Settle back for a long post.
A long day but a very rewarding day. A lot of birds and a lot of educated visitors. Overall the best OWP festival we have ever participated in. Having a new spot (actually just a few yards from our initial spot years ago) and the addition of the new Education Center helped to focus more visitors toward us and they got to witness many birds being banded and got to learn a lot about banding and results gathered from it.
Andrew arrived just at dawn to survey the area and to record the setting moon to the West. Nets would be set up along the berms just ahead.
Without our knowledge, signs were posted at several locations signaling that we would be doing the banding over at the wetlands so that visitors over at the main event at Ft. Christmas would know we were going to be there.
As we set net poles, we noticed a Gopher Tortoise burrow nearby. Later in the morning it would try to find a way out among the crowds.
During the initial setup, Red-winged Blackbirds and Grackles visited the bird feeders already present at the Education Center. We were hoping to catch some but the foot traffic made it unlikely. Still the Red-winged Blackbirds stuck around for awhile calling all the while.
Here, Richard sets up information across from the banding table.
We started the morning by catching some Gray Catbirds and a couple of Myrtle Warblers. Not long afterwards we caught a Northern Cardinal. Surprisingly, this Cardinal already had a band. A recapture from our banding demo in 2007! Great Data. Then came the onslaught of Myrtles which made up a huge percentage of the species captured during the day. Before midday, Abe and Maggie arrived to help band some "Yellow-rumps" as most most folks know Myrtles as.
Maria made a welcome return to the fold along with Jasmine and handed out a lot of information to visitors before heading over toward the Ft. Christmas venue. Along the way they discovered interesting sights like alligators...
...and Boa Constrictors!
Once Maria headed back to the table she discovered a Common Ground Dove lurking in the trees.
Back at the table we are still catching Myrtle Warblers. Surprisingly, even more than in the morning. For this capture, Abe checks for fat on one of our migrants.
We were fortunate enough to have birds in hand at almost every time a group of visitors stopped by. Even better, we caught the Bird-of-the-Day right when the biggest group debarked from the tour bus. It was a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! Andrew prepares to band our new bird in front of 40 visitors.
A very unexpected bird for the day. The crowd was thrilled.
Jasmine got to release the young bird back toward the marsh once all of the data was recorded.
The rest of the day was filled with Myrtle Warblers, one after another. Good enough to show each wave of visitors how we band our tiny wanderers.
Data is recorded, information is given out and everyone has a great time.
Once the birds are processed they are set for release. Here, Richard helps a visitor release a warbler back into the marsh.
When the next bird is brought in, Andrew shows the kids how we weigh them in the bag (and then just the bag) to get an accurate weight of the birds. Most Myrtles are around 12 grams.
Another visitor gets to release one of our newly banded warblers.
One last interesting find of the day before we folded up the day (we ended up with 36 birds) the gang found this insect. A Sculpted Pine Borer beetle. Very cool. We know it is a Chalcophora species but if anyone has a more specific genera, feel free to pass it along.
A great day. News seems to be that all who attended had a wonderful time, visitors and volunteers alike. With a few tweaks we will make next year even better!
Back to Lake Lotus next Sunday. Birds are still massing for a trip back home.
Next Banding Day: Sunday, February 27th
All nets will be opened by 6:23 A.M.