Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Tide Subsides

Looks like we have crested the peak of Fall migration as a a cold front pushed through the area yesterday and opened the door for any bird that felt like it to move South at a rapid pace. Buntings, which have been all over the place for the past few weeks, were noticeably absent. We only could verify two individuals, one of which was a female with one of our bands on it. The mosquitos, however, were out in force after all of our recent rains.

Still, it is always fun to be out and get the week's data. Slower mornings always go quicker when we have visitors. Today we had several ladies out to watch the banding procedures and everyone seemed to have a great time.


This week, instead of a bunch of Buntings, we had a raft of Wrens. House Wrens, that is.

House Wren

Catbird numbers are on the rise and we captured one more local Northern Cardinal. The males seem to glow even in the early morning dark.

Northern Cardinal

While the front carried out most of the October migrants, we did have an increase in Ruby-crowned Kinglet sightings and it also brought in a species we should have been catching by now. We are finally capturing Swainson's Thrushes!

Swainson's Thrush

All willing visitors got to release a bird this morning. Julie got the pleasure of releasing one of the thrushes.

Swainson's Thrush

One more look at one of the many Wrens.

House Wren

We should be seeing Hermit Thrushes soon and hope to begin banding the Kinglets.

Next Sunday is the end of Daylight Savings Time so remember to 'Fall back'!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, November 6th.

All nets will be opened by 6:10 A.M.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Lot More Indigo Buntings

The morning began with a flurry and half of the birds processed today were Indigo Buntings. They were calling from one end of the net lanes to the other. Oddly, we captured zero local birds today. All of them were migrants. The one we regret not containing was a Belted Kingfisher that flew into Net 3 but escaped as we approached it. Next time...

The first run was very nice as we collected many birds right at sunrise. Love to see that many bags right off the bat.


So, we settled in for a lot of birds for the morning. We finally began getting more Catbirds which have been scarce this season.

Gray Catbird

Also on the increase are the House Wrens. They are also singing from time to time.

House Wren

All ages of Common Yellowthroat were captured. Here, an adult male joined us near the Elderberry bushes.

Common Yellowthroat

We did get a few females and even a juvenile male. Notice the black feathers coming in around the chin.

Common Yellowthroat

However, as mentioned at the start, Indigos ruled the day again. Always love to see those Fall males showing of their remaining blues.

Indigo Bunting

The females were very snippy today but were in larger flocks higher up in the trees.

Indigo Bunting

Another male shows off his patches of blue.

Indigo Bunting

Finally, we also captured our first Painted Bunting of the season. We have been seeing them around but they were too busy eating to fly around the lanes. Even the females are gorgeous.

Painted Bunting

Birds are still on the move. Probably more waterfowl than land birds but the Kinglets are around and we should start capturing them anytime now.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 30th.

All nets will be opened by 7:05 A.M.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Indigo Buntings Rule the Day

So, we head out in hopes of Buntings and we were not totally disappointed. Indigo Buntings made up the highest number of birds today but we didn't see or catch any Painted Buntings. The Indigos were in all ranges, like this female.

Indigo Bunting

Only one adult male was caught and he sported a punk haircut.

Indigo Bunting

Several HY individuals rounded out the range.

Indigo Bunting

The second-highest total was of House Wrens. Some we even caught twice on the same day! They are moving in all over right now.

House Wren

One of our recaptures was one of our local Northern Cardinals.

Northern Cardinal

One of our other migrants showed up where we expected. Net 18. Made for catching Northern Waterthrush!

Northern Waterthrush

Another recap, a Carolina Wren. We caught several local recaps and one twice.

Carolina Wren

Still not seeing any male American Redstarts out here but we have a lot of females.

American Redstart

Conversely, it seems we catch male Black-throated Blue Warblers and not females. Other sightings nearby are exactly the opposite.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Charles spotted a Downy Woodpecker near Net 5 but it flew on past. Image our surprise when we did catch it a bit later. A lovely female.

Downy Woodpecker

Always present, but rarely caught, another member of the Tufted Titmouse family was added to the daily count.

Tufted Titmouse

A very pleasant surprise was in Net 3 just below the banding table. Our first of the season Eastern Phoebe. It was nice to hear their calls along the river today.

Eastern Phoebe

Even better, our first ever capture of a Magnolia Warbler. This female was hanging out near the Holly and Fennel in Net 15.

Magnolia Warbler

Such a lovely little warbler.

Magnolia Warbler

As we began closing up for the morning, Andrew recognized a shape out of the corner of his eye. Down in the river, at the mouth of the stream leading from Bosse Lake, an alligator was sunning in the water. It later continued up stream. This was the closest to the table that we have seen one. No wading for us!


Finally, since they did dominate the day, another view of one of our Indigo Buntings.

Indigo Bunting

Another big patch of rain is due this week and a new front should start our days heading into the 50s in the morning. Fall is really here. Can't wait for next week!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 23rd.

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

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bald Eagle Banded at ARC

We got a request to band a Bald Eagle at the Avian Reconditioning Center as they were planning on releasing it back into the wild. Richard and Christine headed out today and went about the process.

Bald Eagle

The Eagle was an injured individual and thought to be a migrant from the Mt. Dora area just to the North. It is thought that the bird was injured in a tussle with another eagle as its talons were all scraped up.

Bald Eagle

Now that the injuries seem to be healed, the bird was banded and was planned to be released back in the Mt. Dora area very soon.

UPDATE: The Bald Eagle was released successfully!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A View of the Flood

Andrew here. I went out today to see how much the river had risen after our 3-day rain event. Orlando recorded about 7 inches of rain in that time. A large amount of the water run-off goes into the Little Wekiva river and through Lake Lotus. My quick estimate is that the river is up about 4-5 feet since we were last out.

Bosse Lake is just across the highway from the Lotus area and when it overflows it sends water into the Little Wekiva at this point. Normally, this stream is often just a tiny trickle. Today it is full.

Flow from Bosse Lake

At the base of the Barred Owl nest tree, the river is nearly flowing onto the mulch path that runs along the river within the park.

Bench across the River

I headed down the lane and was greeted by the sight of where the river had breached the bank and right up to Net 13. Historically, this is where the river always spills over and then runs toward the back side of the lake.

Net 13

Beyond there, I could not reach Net 10 or 18. Net 10's poles are about a foot deep under water.

Net 10

I could make my way through the vegetation to reach Nets 16-17. They were still high and dry but just barely. When the lake gets full it backs up into a swampy area where we get most of our Waterthrushes. This shot is from the end of Net 17. I have never seen the 'swamp' this far up.

Net 17

A tight shot down across from Net 18 shows that the water is nearly to the base of the pier entrance. Usually, the water is several feet below the bank at this point.


Wished we could have been banding today. There are a lot of birds all along the river today including House Wrens and Common Yellowthroats. Here, a male Common Yellowthroat popped up near the banks.

Common Yellowthroat

This is the peak season for Buntings and I saw several flocks of Indigo Buntings and a couple of male Painted Buntings. They were all feeding on the Guinea Grass seeds so I couldn't get a clear shot but they are there.

Painted Bunting

Loads of other birds are there, too, and hopefully they will stick around and have more join them by Sunday. Weather is forecast to be excellent.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 16th.

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Wave of Migrants Already Gone

Bummer. We were hoping to continue our streak of large captures but this morning turned out to be quiet. Seems most birds have moved on from the first wave and are currently hugging the east coast of Florida and streaming down to the Keys and off to the South. The calls of the Yellowthroats have subsided but we did still manage to net a couple.

Common Yellowthroat

For the past 2 weeks we have watched as a Brown Thrasher was sitting in Net 13 in the same spot. Each time it escaped before we could grab it. Today, we got it! In fact, we captured two different juveniles throughout the morning.

Brown Thrasher

Adding a little more color today was another female American Redstart.

American Redstart

She was very bright and a nice capture for the morning.

American Redstart

Overall, very slow. However, Indigo Buntings are being heard closer to the nets and we hope to start our wave of them next week. That is if the rains don't wash us out. Check back by late Saturday to see if we can still band next Sunday. Could be a front washing over us and the winds may be high enough to force us to sleep in.

UPDATE: It is official. We are sleeping in. Heavy rains and high winds are forecast through Monday. Hate to miss one of the peak weeks, but...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 16th.

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

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Push is On!

The first cold front of the season was bearing down on us so we decided to add Saturday to our banding schedule this week. Good call! The weather was a bit more crisp and it was a joy to not sweat all day long. This could have been the first big push we were waiting for and our very first haul was growing every minute. Here is the first row of bags and more were streaming in not far behind.


One of the first birds we captured was a new Ovenbird. It was just after dawn so the photo isn't that great but good enough.


Common Yellowthroats were calling from one end of the river all the way down to the lake. They made up our largest count for any species but we did end up with 12 species which is nice to see.

Common Yellowthroat

We caught some Gray Catbirds which have arrived right on schedule but did not take photos. There will be plenty of them all the way through April. Also on schedule were the House Wrens.

House Wren

Among the local birds we caught were a couple of Blue Jays. Andrew was wearing his Jay Watch shirt on this unscheduled day instead of the standard uniform of choice.

Blue Jay

This one insisted on this pose for a while before being released.

Blue Jay

Somewhere along the way we discovered a snake hanging out by the table. O.K., it was just a rubber version brought by Richard and Christine. No actual snakes were seen today.


Though not often captured here, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers often swarm the trees so it is nice to capture one along the way.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

In the net right next to the Gnatcatcher was an American Redstart. Only seeing females right now.

American Redstart

Susan found this caterpillar along the net lanes. any clues? We are still searching for an ID. Pretty, though.


Adding to the species list, we caught a White-eyed Vireo. We have a local group that never seems to get the true white eye, even as adults, so we have to take a bit more care on aging them by examining their mouth lining which changes as they age.

White-eyed Vireo

Always a favorite, Black-throated Blue Warblers are among the most beautiful migrants we get to band.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Throw in some recaptures and a few more local birds and we had a pretty good day. Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks were seen near the lake and we hope to catch them soon. We shall see tomorrow if this was the big wave or if more are on the way.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 2nd.

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