Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Glimpse of Things to Come?

We ended 2011 with a new idea and prepare for a New Year. The thought of trying a new net location was too strong to ignore for Andrew so he set one up near the mouth or the river where it enters Lake Lotus. Took a bit of time to get things set up this morning but we did run the net for a short time. The day, overall, was subdued by strong northerly winds blowing right off the lake toward the banding site. It ended with a bang, though.

We began the day with a recaptured Northern Cardinal and a new Gray Catbird.

Gray Catbird

A bit later we managed to get a Brown Thrasher and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Things got really quiet after that until another male Ruby-crowned Kinglet returned to us. We first banded this guy last year. Still looking good.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

As we waited, we got Net 21 set up in the willows. This area is really teaming with activity in the Winter but we have only been accessing it on foot to bird over the past year. Efforts were increased to extend the trail to make it farther out to the lake this Fall.

Net 21

It was noticed that something had been scratching up the soil near the middle of the net lanes. It was in an odd 'X' shape but we also found a tell-tale print near the river. The otters are having a lot of fun up and down the river.

Otter Print

Nearby, a small group of Sawfly larva still chomp on one of the young pines planted by the Lake Lotus rangers. Seems they enjoy blowing bubbles!

Sawfly Caterpillars

Hiding in the vegetation, a Green Anole rests.

Green Anole

Frank came over to discuss some issues and we showed him the new net set up. He agreed it should be a good spot. Here, Frank, Andrew, and Charles head back up the lanes to wait for the next wave.


Then the fun began! This is Andrew returning from the next trip.

Drew with birds

Heading down to check the new net, Andrew found a Kinglet in Net 9 and two Western Palm Warblers in Net 10. Typically, Palm Warblers have remained well South of the nets. Two other individuals bounced out of the nets as they examined their captured friends.

Western Palm Warbler

One of the most abundant wintering birds in Central Florida (along with Myrtle Warblers), Palm Warblers are hard to miss. They are the only warbler that constantly bobs its tail up and down and that behavior is easily spotted from a distance. Here, we can easily see the difference between an adult and a juvenile with more tan feather edges.

Western Palm Warbler

Adults also have very bright undertail coverts like this bird. Very exciting to finally start catching Palms again. We used to catch them sporadically at Wekiva State Park.

Western Palm Warbler

Meanwhile, Net 21 was already producing captures! Resting in the net was an Eastern Phoebe...

Eastern Phoebe

...and an Orange-crowned Warbler! This warbler was seen feeding in the same area last week with other birds striking the interest in setting the net here.

Orange-crowned Warbler

As those birds were being brought in, Maria had her hands full with a recaptured Brown Thrasher. The thrasher population is doing very well this year.

Brown Thrasher

Finally, there were a couple of thrush species around the banding table today. A Swainson's Thrush hopped around for a while near the table and Maria had excellent views of a Hermit Thrush feeding on Beauty Berries.

Hermit Thrush

Overall, an excellent day. New net set up and showing results already and a nice variety of birds, including a new species to band here. Going to be tough to not be out for the next couple of weeks but the holidays fall on Sunday this year. So, this wraps up 2011 for us. Can't wait for what we will find in 2012!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, January 8th.

All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy to Be B.O.D if You're the Only One!

There was talk of rain but it never materialized. In fact, it turned out to be a lovely morning. Unfortunately, there was very little bird movement in the area today. Not often that a Northern Cardinal gets to be Bird-of-the-Day. But, since he was our only capture he can wear the crown for a little while.

Plus, he was one of our new birds captured two weeks ago.

Northern Cardinal

The majority of all birds seen today were down between the marsh and the lake, fairly far from our last net. If only there were a way to get a net set up in the willows where we have carved out a few trails to the lake. Hmmm...

It is tempting. If only it were set up for the Winter weeks when that area is in most use. Today, the willows hosted Titmice, Palm Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Eastern Phoebes, Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats, and more. Staring at a list like that suggests it would well be worth a try.

Red-winged Blackbirds and Wrens like that area, too.

Only one more week to band in 2011. Christmas and New Years land on Sunday this year so we only have next weekend. Maybe we start the year with a new net position.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 18th.

All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Back to 'Normal'.

Last week was an exciting day with more birds than we usually get in a near-Winter's day. Today we slid back to a more normal day of activity to begin our December. The morning was overcast until around 9 AM and bird movement was limited.

It was a brief dawn-chorus and we still have yet to hear a Whip-poor-will this season. We caught our Whips in November the past couple of years. Instead, our first capture was a Swamp Sparrow up river in Net 20 across from the owl nest tree. This is the farthest up river we have caught a Swamp Sparrow which typically hang out in the marsh area near the lake.

Swamp Sparrow

A bit later we caught two Tufted Titmice. One was a recapture from last week and the other was a new member of the family.

Tufted Titmouse

We have been low on thrushes this year so it is always nice to get one anytime of the year. This Hermit Thrush was a recapture from 2 years ago. Instead of heading straight back into the woods, it landed in a nearby tree and watched us for a while before departing.

Hermit Thrush

Time to explore the area for other wonders as we wait for more birds. Found near the pier was a strange looking bug that Susan found. The weird part was that it was flat on the leaf and then flexed into a folded position for a while before flattening out again. After much consideration, we think that this is an intermediate form of Lady Beetles after the larval stage.

Lady Beetle

On drier ground, Maria found a Dog-faced Butterfly exploring the St, John's Wort and other plants.

Dog-faced Butterfly

Hiding in the greener plants was a large Katydid.


Though quiet all morning, the White-eyed Vireos are still finding there way back into the net lanes. This adult was first banded 3 years ago!

White-eyed Vireo

When we first recaptured this bird 2 years ago we thought it was a juvenile since the eye was mostly darker than typical adults. Noting the first capture date, it showed us it had to be an adult. Later research shows that some of these vireos in the south actually retain the darker iris so we have to go by other aging methods for our Lake Lotus family. Note how the iris on our old friend is rather broken up and darker than a usual White-eyed Vireo.

White-eyed Vireo

Andrew looks over the bird before handing it over for its safe release.

White-eyed Vireo

Maria took the bird to the side of the banding table and opened her hand. The bird refused to fly off. It wasn't stressed or cold. Just sat there for a few minutes before finally taking off.

White-eyed Vireo

The Sun finally emerged from behind the clouds but it was getting near the end of our shift by then. Time to head home. One more bird was captured as the nets were gathered.


Finally, we captured a House Wren, which are usually all over the place this time of year. Only 3 were heard today, including this recapture from a few weeks ago.

House Wren

The House Wren was recorded and released and we packed up. Next to the river, a Great-blue Heron overlooked the area as we headed out.

Great-blue Heron

Goldfinches and Waxwings are moving into the area. We don't have much chance of catching those species but it is fun to hope we will.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 11th.

All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.