We woke to heavy smoke this morning generated by several fires in the area. They were thought to have been sparked by late storms yesterday. Humidity is up, too. Beginning to sweat at 5:30 AM makes us glad we decided to not band June-July. Today is the last banding day of Session 3 and with a clear radar and all this smoke, could it be a fizzle on the way out? Hmmm...
Susan called Andrew while they were setting nets before dawn. First catch of the day. Already?
Not a bird, but a bat! Not exactly sure which species but there it was. We had some thin gloves but it turned out that we just had to get the strand around the wing free and the bat flew off into the gloom. Whew!
Once the Sun began to rise we caught our first bird of the day. One of the first 4 Northern Cardinals we ever captured here back in 2008. Next up was one of our newer members of the property, a young Carolina Wren.
Things grew quiet and we began to wander and do some trimming and watching Nature. As the Sun crept higher, we could easily see the smoke that was filling our noses all morning. Fortunately, the breezes kicked in and cleared most of it out by 8:30. The stumps in the photo are of invasive China Berry and Camphor we felled a while ago.
Insects for the day included some Lubber Grasshoppers and some Leaf-footed Bugs.
A bit later a Buckeye Butterfly was seen along the lanes.
Bill spent some time trying to get some shots of the fish in the river. A small school of rather nice looking Bass were spotted over what we think is a portion of a boat submerged in the riverbed. We will try to raise it in the future as the river level falls.
There have been an increasing amount of Talapia filling the river, also. Some are huge!
One of the biggest surprises of the morning was Bill's encounter with the resident Bobcat. We have found scat in the area for years and there have been rare sightings by others over the years but we finally got a shot. According to Bill, the cat was spooked by the rangers but reemerged from under the boardwalk to clean its fur and just look around as he tried to get some shots before the cat moved back into the park.
Meanwhile, up in the pines, a Pileated Woodpecker swung in for some food options.
All along the lanes, the Beauty Berry plants are blooming nicely.
We repositioned Net 19 in preparation of adding new plants there soon and headed out for one more net check. Christine noticed two birds in Net 14. We ran to them before they could escape and discovered two Red-bellied Woodpeckers! Net 14 is near a known nest tree this year and we wondered if we could capture any of them. Christine removes one as Andrew gets the other.
Seems we got Dad, noted by the bright red feathers extending all the way towards the bird's bill.
Surprising us was that Dad also has a brood patch.
The other bird was one of the newly fledged chicks!
As we headed back to the table we found a couple more birds. Another Red-bellied Woodpecker from another family. This time a Mom.
She was none too happy and showed it by grabbing Andrew before being released.
We have been hearing young Northern Cardinals back in the woods and were wondering if we would catch one. Today was the day! We caught two!! The females are always a bit more dull but still beautiful.
Young males show more red all over, especially around the head. Both birds show their age by the dark bills that will turn bright red-orange as they become adults.
So, that wraps up the Session. Susan captured the exit march as we headed toward our cars. We all say goodbye to the site for banding until August.
Just outside the gates we found a bunch of Leather Flower blooming along the fences.
We will do some ground work a few times during the next couple months, including adding Sand Cord Grass around Net 19 and replacing the wild Coffee around Net 12 with Maple-leaf Viburnum. Black Berries will be added near the Mulberry trees. Should have fruit all over soon.
Session 4 will begin on the first Sunday in August. Weather permitting...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 7th.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.