Sunday, August 29, 2010

Variety is the Spice...

A little less humidity. Just a smidge less. Still a lot of sweat. Who could really tell with the return of a breath of fresh air in the form of Maggie and Abe, returning from too much fun out West. We also had a pretty good selection of birds in the trees and in the nets to keep us busy all morning.

We were watching a lot of good birds flying by or feeding in the treetops before we began catching birds. One of the first was another young Carolina Wren. Adult feathers are on the way.

Carolina Wren

Soon, we had a striking example of an adult Red-eyed Vireo.

Red-eyed Vireo

Just before that we had the Bird-of-the-Day earlier than expected. Our first Acadian Flycatcher to band at Lake Lotus!

Acadian Flycatcher

It took us a bit to make sure what we were staring at. Flycatchers are hard. Plus, the Eastern Wood Pewee was seen right near the spot where this bird was captured so we had to work to shake that ID out of our minds.

Acadian Flycatcher

After measuring wings and tail feathers and bill size it became clear this was an Acadian. A great catch for us all.

Acadian Flycatcher

Later, the crew processes another new capture.


Over the river, Maria noticed one of the many Ruby-throated Hummingbirds feeding around the Virginia Creepers.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

We always have our share of laughter out at the site but this was a special moment. We captured a Mourning Dove, our 4th at this location, and banded her as is normal. She was then handed off to Maggie for release. Instead of flying off she just sat in Maggie's hand.

Andrew joked that maybe she should place the bird on her shoulder or head. Maggie complied. So did the dove! It soon flew off back up the net lanes.

Mourning Dove

It wasn't too long before we got another great bird. A male American Redstart.

American Redstart

This gorgeous bird was as bright a spot in the day as its plumage. It was also carrying a ton of fat. Migrants are increasing daily.

American Redstart

Closing out the birds for the day was another excellent catch. A male Black-throated Blue Warbler. Always a joy.

Black-throated Blue

Other images of the day included this fresh looking Clouded Skipper hanging out on the grasses...


...a nice cropping of fungi (loads of fungi are sprouting up thanks to all of the rains of late)...


...and as we were closing up nets to head home we found this orange katydid. Of the genus Amblycorypha, this species is usually green but in rare cases is a more pink-orange in coloration.


A nice end to an interesting day. Hurricane Earl should pass us by this week and change up the winds for next week. Should be about time for our first Veery of the season soon. Can't wait.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, September 5th.

All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Things are Stirring

Yes. Sauna again. I tried to keep it from happening but, alas...

Nothing left to do but to get to it. Ovenbrids were heard calling all over the place today but they really weren't moving around much. We had to watch other birds fly by or over the area. Could have used a capture of an Ovenbird as the past couple of years but we could not do it.

Still catching the other locals, though. Like more young Cardinals. This female is showing a lot of new feathers coming in all around her body and still shows dark spots on the her bill as typical of young birds.

Northern Cardinal

This slightly older male also shows new feathers coming in but the bill is more uniform in color.

Northern Cardinal

We had a couple of guests today. Alice and Kris had a great time hanging out with us and we enjoyed them being there. Guests are always welcome at the site and they can always head over to the park proper afterward.

Northern Cardinal

The day was not chock full of captured birds but we did have enough to keep everyone involved. This shot from Alice shows Andrew hauling back two birds back to the banding table midway through the morning.


In one of those bags was another Cardinal. A pretty girl.

Northern Cardinal

The other bag contained out first migrant of the day. A Northern Waterthrush. Two weeks in a row.

Northern Waterthrush

As we walked the lane in search for captured birds, Richard was being all sexy and tending to our new plantings. New plants are looking good, too!


In between the new mulberries, a plant was noticed growing near the lanes. Turns out to be a Partridge Berry. Supposed to be a favorite of some birds and hopefully it will fill in the barren spots around our new trees.

Partridge Berry

Soon afterward, we captured a Carolina Wren. Most everything we are catching are young birds. Alice got a shot of this bird being banded by Andrew.

Carolina Wren

Showing the molting process on these young birds is nicely illustrated by this shot of the secondary feathers pushing through the shafts.

Carolina Wren

One bird we had hoped to catch (and maybe we have) was a one of the pair of Brown Thrashers flying right over the nets near the pier. Next time...

Brown Thrasher

Andrew had to stop by the site the previous Friday and found a Carolina Chickadee. First ever sighted by us here. Today, we had several near 10 AM. They were hanging out with the Titmice (as is typical) and we managed to capture one of the birds today.

Carolina Chickadee

Soon after releasing the Chickadee, Andrew went toward Net 2 to see what all the birds were fussing about. He soon found the Eastern Wood Pewee he found last Friday and the Yellow-throated Vireo our visitors found last week. Same spot for both birds at around the same time!

Yellow-throated Vireo

Right near the Vireo, a Downy Woodpecker dropped into the picture. Still wish there would have been more light for both birds.

Downy Woodpecker

Rounding out the day, Susan and Maria were transfixed by movement across the river from the banding table. They discovered a blooming Button Bush which was being visited by our first sighting of a Silver Spotted Skipper. Nice!

Silver Spotted Skipper

Overall, a fun day shared with new friends and some great birds viewed and banded.

Someone send us a Cerulean Warbler, would ya?
Next Banding Day: Sunday, August 29th.

All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More Visitors Than Birds

We are ready for Fall. This blanketing humidity is ridiculous! Even the birds were staying in the shade. Only 3 birds today which was less than the number of visitors we had. That is OK. Company makes the day go by faster.

After we set nets we headed back to the banding table to get ready for the day. Who needs coffee when you discover a scorpion relaxing in one of the folding chairs? Luckily, Maria had her headlamp on as she opened chairs and noticed our first visitor of the day.


Andrew donned the work gloves and gently took the scorpion over to a rotting log. The scorpion quickly crawled under a piece of bark and settled in. Whew. We are awake now!


Our first bird of the day was a young male Cardinal. It was initially thought that it was completely missing its left eye. Closer inspection revealed that it was still there but the lid was closed over. Perhaps a virus or collision with a thorn. We don't know.

Northern Cardinal

The right eye was fine and the bird seemed otherwise healthy. Hopefully, we will capture the bird in the future to see if it improves.

Northern Cardinal

As mentioned earlier, we had a lot of new visitors today. Kathlin read about us online and wanted to stop by and see some birds up close and famed East Coast photographer, and long-time acquaintance, Thomas Dunkerton brought out the family for a morning in the sauna.


Our next bird was a young Carolina Wren. Note the yellowish gape at the base of the bill and the missing white wing spots these birds acquire as they age.

Carolina Wren

Andrew blows on the birds body to check for any fat that may be present. Being a young, local bird we assumed we would find none as was the case.

Carolina Wren

Our newly banded bird gets a gentle petting before being released back into the woods.

Carolina Wren

Later, the crew checked nets and found a female Cardinal in Net 16. Christine removes the bird as some of our visitors watch the process.


Other finds of note were the numerous fungus species. At least some living thing is enjoying the extra-moist conditions of late! A lot of these umbrella looking mushrooms were scattered throughout the area.


Every now and again we would find fungi that resemble our nearby Spaceship Earth at EPCOT.


Fungus come in all different colors. We have even found some in blue but these yellow versions stand out nicely along logs on the sides of the net lanes.


We hadn't heard the Barred Owls for the past couple of weeks but one was very accessible today toward the pier. We kept an eye out for it scouting the nets for smaller prey.

Barred Owl

We also planted 3 new trees today. Another Wax Myrtle and two Red Mulberry trees. Can't wait for those to mature and provide food for the birds and bring in more sights for future visitors across the river.

Migrant reports are on the rise. Many Red-eyed Vireos were viewed and a Yellow-throated Vireo was seen near the banding table. We should be capturing more birds as the weeks progress.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, August 22th.

All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Session 3: Day 1

Day 1 of our 2010-2011 Session began with another walk into the sauna. Heavy rains the night before cooled the land a bit but the humidity was still weighing on us and the sweating began promptly at 5:45 AM. Cicadas were buzzing away as the clouds relaxed overnight. Rain was forecast for later in the morning so we crossed our fingers and set nets to see what was new in the area.

Our first bird was new, but local. A young Carolina Wren. Second bird was also a young bird but this time the species was a White-eyed Vireo! They have been few and far between this year and this little bird has molted off its tail.

White-eyed Vireo

Later on we captured yet another Carolina Wren juvenile. You can see the new feathers coming in along the wings.

Carolina Wren

Along the riverside, the Scarlet Mourning Glory patch is expanding and attracting a lot of butterflies.

Scarlet Mourning Glory

Nearby, the tangerine trees are setting fruit. Can't wait for the harvest in the Winter!


Pokeberry bushes are loaded with fruit right now. A good feast for the birds.


Several adult Lubber Grasshoppers were seen along the trails today. A lot of people suggest killing them but we let them be.


A large colony of Ant Lions was discovered today and garnered some attention for a while.

Ant Lions

They primarily exists by catching and eating ant, of course, but Charles and Maria watched as a spider wandered too close and was grabbed. It was pulled under the dirt but managed to escape.

Ant Lions

We had some time to soak in the morning (while we were get soaked with sweat) but how can you complain when you can watch the relaxing river drift by?


We did catch a juvenile Northern Cardinal but the Bird-of-the-Day arrived just in time. Our first migrant: a Northern Waterthrush.

Northern Waterthrush

Beginning of last season we caught a few Louisiana Waterthrushes and hoped for one today. Any migrant is good, though. Northern Waterthrushes are told from the former species easily by looking for the speckles on the throat. Louisianas are unmarked.

Northern Waterthrush

Six birds today (we are counting the Brown Thrasher that escaped) doubles last year's start. Hopefully, this trend continues and we have a bumper crop of birds to band.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, August 15th.

All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.