Sunday, March 27, 2011

Slower, Yet Interesting

Still a ton of birds up in the trees. Species counts were interesting and there were probably more American Goldfinches in the area than in years past. They are loving the Willow trees right now. We did find scat from possible bears and Bobcats along the trail.

Good early surprise was our first Ovenbird of the season as the first bird of the morning.


Soon afterwards, we caught a recaptured Carolina Wren.

Carolina Wren

Loads of caterpillars were witnessed today. On leaves, on tables, on chairs, floating down from threads. One of the early shots was one of the Tussock Moth caterpillars clinging nearby.

Tussock Moth

Over at the Mulberry trees we noticed a number of Eastern Tent Caterpillars spinning webs among the leaves. We wonder if they will eat the leaves of our new plants but they do not seem to be eating any of them.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Hopefully they are just setting up house and will leave our plants alone. We will keep monitoring.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

The most exciting part of the morning was capturing a pair of Downy Woodpeckers at the same time. First shot is of the noisier of the two, the female.

Downy Woodpecker

The male was about two feet next to her in Net 9. Males are told from females by that bright red patch on the back of the head.

Downy Woodpecker

These birds were very digital-aware, meaning that they, like a number of warblers, seem to hear the digital signals of the cameras and tend to begin flapping when the shutter is depressed before firing off a picture. A lot of the shots end up like this.

Downy Woodpecker

Abe and Andrew had to constrain the bird's wings to get a side-by-side shot before release.

Downy Woodpecker

Way cool. What could be cooler? On the way out of the banding site we came upon a very interesting and unexpected view. A Red-eared Slider laying eggs way up on the side of the river bank. For reference, the river at this point is about 20-plus feet up a high bank from the river.

Red-slider Turtle

We will continue to monitor this spot also.

Rains are on the way. Big fronts are projected to be here all next week. How will the weather change things by next week? Stay tuned!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 3rd.

All nets will be opened by 6:45 A.M.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mixed Bag as Spring Arrives

Happy Equinox! We had a fairly busy day but the vast majority of birds are still up in the treetops. Early on a new predator was spotted. A Coyote bounded across the river just after dawn! As the morning progressed the wind picked up and the nets were soon full of leaves, fuzz, and seeds.

First birds of the morning were a Tufted Titmouse...

Tufted Titmouse

...and a Gray Catbird.

Gray Catbird

The Titmouse was bagged first and Christine headed down to get the Catbird. Once she did, one of the Barred Owls landed on top of the net pole to check out the wriggling bag. Charles grabbed a shot on his cell phone.

Barred Owl

He also grabbed a quick video of a second owl flying in to investigate. Click on the image below to see the movie in a new window.

Barred Owl

We watched a Brown Thrasher go into and escape that same net where the action happened. A bit later we had TWO trapped this time. Both were younger birds told by their eye color. The older they get the brighter the yellow becomes.

Brown Thrasher

Just a short while later in the very next net (13) was a very yellow Orange-crowned Warbler! Only our second one caught here.

Orange-crowned Warbler

"How can you be sure?", I hear you ask. Just look!

Orange-crowned Warbler

Just behind the banding table we got a House Wren.

House Wren

Richard headed out to check nest boxes. Still no birds. However, the ever-present Flying Squirrels were huddled down for the day.

Flying Squirrels

Another box was over run with caterpillars! Weird.


Trapped in Net 1 was a Green Darner Dragonfly. It rested in the bushes after a successful extraction.


Maggie found this Green Treefrog just hanging out.

Green Treefrog

Finally, we captured some Carolina Wrens to round out the day.

Carolina Wren

Whew! Busy morning!!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 27th

All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Noise, noise, noise, noise!

Interesting day. Radar and previous days of scouting suggested that maybe we would might not catch many birds today. On Saturday there were only 2 warblers seen around the area by Andrew. By 5 AM, the radar suggested that most migrating birds had passed by us before the morning. We still had some birds to watch.

Last week most of our birds were recaptures. Today we got some of those but some nice new birds. Included in the new batch were a few Gray Catbirds.

Gray Catbird

We are still gathering up new Northern Cardinals like this female and another male. Where are they coming from? We were sure we had banded them all. Especially the adults. See that spot on Andrew's finger? That is from the last female Cardinal a couple weeks ago. They bite. HARD!

Northern Cardinal

One nice surprise was a male Black and White Warbler in the center of the net lanes.

Black and White Warbler

Christine arrived after dawn and we set our newest net, Number 19, near the river where we plan to plant Blackberries to do the next experiment. Andrew is seen attaching string to the stakes in hopes of catching something for the morning.

Drew sets up the new net.

An hour later, we recaptured our White-throated Sparrow that we have had around for a number of months now. Interesting point of this shot is that it shows that the bird has already regrown its tail feathers which were shed during the last recapture. The band proves that it is the same bird.

White-throated Sparrow

Down near the pier, Abe and Maggie managed to talk a Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler into a net for banding. We are hoping that we increase the captures of this species once the Wax Myrtles grow toward maturity.

Myrtle Warbler

This just in: Milton Heiberg was at the Orlando Wetlands Festival a couple weeks ago and sent in some shots by request. The biggest thrill of that morning was the captured juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that morning.


There was a huge crowd gathered at just the right time to see and hear info from Andrew as we banded this excellent bird during the morning.


Lake Lotus was the loudest we have ever heard during our time there. Birds were ever-present and ever-calling all morning. However, they were mostly up in the treetops. It still made for a magical morning of bird watching, if not better bird catching.

Things should get interesting for the next few weeks.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 20th

All nets will be opened by 7:00 A.M.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Most Things Overhead

Despite the abundant amount of birds overhead, we caught only four birds today. Food is everywhere up in the treetops and Myrtle Warblers lead the charge in huge flocks all morning. Robins are thinning out but Parulas are singing all over the place. The Barred Owls made a long appearance down by the peir and were being watched to make sure they didn't get into any trouble.

One of our first birds of the day was a new Northern Cardinal. Thought we had caught all of them already. Abe gets the pleasure of banding our new member of the local birds.

Northern Cardinal

A beautiful adult male always brightens the mornings.

Northern Cardinal

We also recaptured one of our Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Wren

Bird-of-the-Day was our Northern Parula. A great adult male. Typically they stay across the river or high up in the trees and this is only one of a few we have ever banded at Lake Lotus.

Northern Parula

A sure sign of spring, Northern Parula are really making a showing this season.

Northern Parula

Another good sign of Spring are the increasing amount of Spider Wort blooming in the area.

Spider Wort

As we were packing up we spotted the skink from last week still hanging out at the table. Better yet, we discovered that there were two. We wanted better views to verify the species and spent a while trying to catch one. Andrew finally grabbed one and we got some photos as it bit him.

Definitely now ID'd as a Five-lined Skink.

Five-lined Skink

Time to start seeing more migrants. Yellow-throated Vireos are singing and other birds are moving through. Next week could be fun.

Remember it is Daylight Saving Time and clocks Spring forward on Sunday!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 13th

All nets will be opened by 7:10 A.M.