Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Migrants Arriving

We spotted a lot more migrants around the net lanes today. Unfortunately, they were just stopping long enough to grab a quick bite before heading directly to the South and not coming down into the nets. Oh, well. It was a pretty good day to bird watch.

Our one migrant of the morning was our 3rd Northern Waterthrush of this Session. Bill had photo duties today and did a great job getting some shots of our birds.

Northern Waterthrush

Our other birds today were a couple of Blue Jays. The first was a younger bird captured near the pier. The first hint of it being a young bird was noticed as soon as we got it out of the bag. Notice the grey wash on the top of the head.

Blue Jay

Other clues to determine young Jays are that the juveniles have a lighter lining on the roof of their mouth as shown here. As the birds mature, the upper lining turns black.

Blue Jay

Lastly, we also noticed that this bird was still acquiring new upper wing coverts.

Blue Jay

Our other Blue Jay was an adult we first banded 2 years ago. Blue Jays are common here but we have only captured a half-dozen in the past 4 years. This adult seemed to have either some mite infestation or was heavily molting its head feathers.

Blue Jay

Here is a close-up of the feathers coming back in on the top of its crown.

Blue Jay

As previously mentioned, we spied a lot of migrants during the morning. Bill and Andrew enjoyed really nice views of a male Northern Parula feeding oh-so-close to Net 5 for a while. Another feeding flock moved in soon in which we found our first Ovenbird of the season and a number of Red-Eyed Vireos, one of which landed close overhead.

Red-Eyed Vireo

Other migrants seen today were Prairie Warbler, American Redstart, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Warbler, and a remaining Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Looking forward to the migrant count to keep growing and hope to actually band some of them. One month from big numbers.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 4th.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One is the Lonliest...

Shhh. Quiet. We don't want to wake the birdies. Or maybe they just aren't here! Very low activity today left us with only 1 bird captured during our visit today.

Around 9 AM we caught our sole bird: a female American Redstart.

American Redstart

At least we managed a migrant. There are bird calls in the woods and there are some warblers high up in the trees but not much at ground level.

American Redstart

The Scarlet Morning Glory is blooming nicely right now. Up in the trees above this area we watched as about a dozen Northern Parula and a striking male Prairie Warbler gleened insects from the branches.

Scarlet Morning Glory

A wide variety of grasses are producing seeds right now. Just in time for the new visitors. We need to start getting IDs on all of these species!


Looking like a burst of fireworks, the Sensitive Briar plants are spreading throughout the area and exploding with bright pink flowers.

Sensitive Briar

Oh, well. One is better than zero. We know the migrants are on the way. Perhap the departure of Hurricane Irene will usher in a better haul next week.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 28st.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quiet, Yet Exciting

Had a couple of surprises today. The first was the fact that the weather was fairly tolerable today as opposed to last week's sauna we slogged through. The other was a bird we captured, only one of two(!), but we will save that one until the end.

Right around dawn, a Northern Waterthrush flew into Net 10. This one was much more whitish than last week's yellow version we usually see in this area.

Northern Waterthrush

While Maria was on net patrol she heard some splashing at the river bend. She feared it was a gator but the suspect popped up for a couple of seconds revealing it to be one of our playful otters.


Heading back up the trail she spotted a male Pileated Woodpecker working through the dead tree snags.

Pileated Woodpecker

Far below the woodpeckers, plants like the Golden Oxeye easily grab one's attention. They bloom year-round.

Golden Oxeye

Meanwhile, Susan found other things to take photos of near the flowers. Skippers of many varieties visit throughout the year.


Oh, yes. I almost forgot. We caught another bird, didn't we? Maria came back toward the table with a bird she described as a cute little yellow thing with a yellow mouth. Hmmm... Warbler? Nope. A flycatcher!

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

We have captured Wood Pewees and the occasional Acadian Flycatcher but this bird seemed different. Definitely the flycatcher bill and the olive back like most Empids.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

There is that yellow mouth that Maria was noticing. Flycatchers have slightly different colorations on and in their bills.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Flycatcher IDs are tough in the field and even in the hand. The easiest way to ID them is by their different vocal calls. However, most don't call often once they arrive in Florida. If they do, we are not used to the sound so it is of little use. Instead we have to take measurements or the tail and winds and consult our birding guides.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

One descriptive ID note kept being found in different books. "No other flycatcher has a yellow throat". However, we know that some juvenile Acadians DO have a yellowish wash for a while. We will also send out the photos to Bruce Anderson who is much more skilled with flycatchers so we can get a more official call on this bird.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

So, for now, we are sticking by our ID of a...Yellow-bellied Flycatcher! It would be a first for most of us. I hope we are correct.

Update: Call is official.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Many warbler reports are pouring in from around the state so fingers are crossed that we can manage to capture a few next time.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 21st.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Session 4 Begins!

You never know how a day is going to go but none of us expected to be soaking wet from sweat before 6 AM. It rained fairly hard the night before and the morning heat made everything nice and humid. Before long we were all dripping. Much like the Tangerines...


Tree removal folks swung through last week and it appears they did little damage. They did run over one of the Cord Grass plantings and squashed the fruiting Wax Myrtle but it could have been worse. Weirdest part was finding a stump that used to be on the other side of the river blocking our access to Net 18.


We cut a new access point and waited for the birds to show up in the damp conditions. The bat we caught at dawn didn't count. Soon afterwards, we did get two babies. A Carolina Wren and this female Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

All of the water is making everything spring back to life up and down the river. The Summer flowers are in bloom, including the spreading Passion vines. They used to be only near the front gate but are now popping up in several spots along the net lanes.

Passion Flower

Not much seemed to want to fly about today. Can't really say we blame them. However, just as we were about to call it quits, we did get our first migrant of this new session. A Northern Waterthrush was captured in Net 18. Waterthrushes are why Net 18 is there in the first place as it sits next to a swampy area that floods during the rainy season. A favorite spot for this species.

Northern Waterthrush

We are also hoping for Louisiana Waterthrushes. The Northern variety are usually more yellow and have specs all the way up the chin as shown here.

Northern Waterthrush

We had had enough. The day was called a little early in fear that someone might drop from the oppressive conditions. Even the bees were looking for some shade.

Bumble Bee

Hoping for a bit more comfortable environment next Sunday. Not really counting on it...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 14th.

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