Sit back. Long post. Not that that is a bad thing.
Limpkins were calling just before dawn but not much else seemed to be active until just before the usual Dawn Chorus. As we headed back to the table to get ready for the first lane runs, the loudest calls were from Brown Thrashers. Carolina Wrens chimed in and Cardinals swept back in forth in the gloom. Andrew checked Net 2 on a hunch and found a recaptured Ovenbird. As he was extracting that bird Richard called out that more birds were being brought to the table.
Christine was returning with the formally heard Brown Thrasher and another member of the flock. She dropped them off and headed back out down the lanes. The Thrashers consisted of a new bird and one recapture.
As we prepared to band the new birds, Christine shouted, "Owl!" just down the way. We looked for our gloves (and couldn't find them!) and headed down near the river. We met up with Christine to find a Barred Owl in Net 11.
Without protection, we had to size up the options for getting this strong predator safely out of the net. Owls have extremely strong talons and sharp claws that are capable of major damage to tender flesh. Andrew had Christine recline the owl backward and tested reflexes by dropping an empty bag onto the bird's feet. No sign of movement. The owl seemed completely relaxed.
Deep breath...grab those legs...then find a way to get behind the head while the birds claps its beak, looking for something to either grab or to scare us.
Extraction complete! Andrew looks a bit serious but that was more due to the fact that we were trying to get all the quick shots we could before release. Plus, owls are extremely strong.
We love our local pair of Barred Owls. So beautiful and so potentialyl deadly to prey. Just after this shot we released our bird and it was quickly met by its mate in the tree across the river. A nice catch and release. We could have banded this bird but we know it lives here and banding it wouldn't serve much purpose. It only roams about in a one mile zone year after year so...
Such an interesting start to the day. However, things soon grew quiet after we recaptured a House Wren and Carolina Wren. Time for some looking around while we wait. As the Sun rises, a Day Flower opens to greet the morning.
The willows are nearing full bloom, attracting insects and birds after the insects.
The Redwinged Blackbirds are getting more active out in the Cattails and the males are singing loudly since last week. More secretive are the females which stay lower in the reeds.
Not many Warblers were seen today. They are mainly staying in the branches and on the marshy water edges, like this Myrtle (yellow-rump) Warbler, picking off insects.
Out at the lake, the Common Gallinule pair finds a place in the sunlight.
Farther out, one of the Limpkins feeds along the shoreline.
Blue Jays were on patrol this morning as the raptors woke and we managed to capture a new member of the flock.
This younger bird was very busy today. We actually recaptured it at the end of the day in a different net.
Back to watching Nature and Maria found a lot to photograph.
Tent Caterpillars are forming their colonial nests all along the river.
Other winged creatures were out today starting with a Gulf Fritillary.
Not often seen around the lanes, a Pearl Crescent butterfly warms itself along the way.
We are still looking for a positive iD on this pretty moth. It was hard enough to find in the first place!
Our final bird of the day was an Orange-crowned Warbler that we first banded in the same net location a few weeks ago and it was photographed in that area last week. Must like it here.
These tiny warblers get their name from the orange feathers that are not often seen when they are feeding in the trees.
As we headed out to close the nets for the day we nearly tripped over one the of more deadly snakes out there. A 4-foot Coral Snake was hanging around some fallen logs. It was seen here a couple months ago but we couldn't get a good shot of it. Remember, 'red next to yellow can kill a fellow' and keep your distance! In fact, it is a good idea to avoid snakes in general.
Temperatures may lower closer to normal next week and more adventures await!
UPDATE: We will not band on the 12th. Temperatures are predicted to be near freezing and the wind chill to be below. We will get to the Wetlands Festival on the 18th and hope to be back out at Lotus on the 19th.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 19th.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.