We were hoping for sounds of Chuck-will's-Widows but all we had were Barred Owls before dawn. The owls were a major feature throughout the morning as they are very active right now. No signs of chicks in or around the nest but they sure seem like there should be. First birds of the day were Gray Catbirds, Cardinals, and a recaptured Hermit Thrush but the owls made for better photo ops.
Once the Sun rose the pair flew into one of the oaks. They were jumping from spot to spot so getting shots was a bit more tricky.
The male showed up shortly, looking all wet. Perhaps he was down by the lake taking a dip. The female was very attentive.
It even looked like they were sharing a kiss from time to time as she helped him preen.
Vegetation is in full bloom all over the area in this super-warm year. Spring is a couple days away but plants have been sporting flowers for weeks. Right now, all of the Blackberries are springing open white blossoms.
Even the Spiderwort is erupting in large numbers all over the landscape. Purple is the most common color for this plant but they are also found in pink and white in more rare occasions.
No matter which way you turn this time of year, Bowl and Doily Spider webs are found. If you did not read about them in earlier posts, the spider weaves a large bowl midway up a plant and then weaves a smaller one below to wait for something to hit the first one. They are very beautiful, especially in the morning light and often reflect rainbow shimmers as we pass by.
Then, our Bird-of-the Day. We set a new net near the lake at the end of last year hoping to snag more warblers and secretly hoping to get some other lakeside birds. Today was the day. We captured our first Red-winged Blackbird!
A lot of head scratching went into this bird. It had all the signs of an adult bird but we had never seen a female with red wing coverts before around here, and the books were not conclusive. Later, Andrew found an older book at home that shows this coloration on females in some areas. So, our first is an adult female.
Checking Net 21, where the Blackbird was captured, provided other discoveries. One interesting sight was a caterpillar hiding in plain sight on a Maple leaf.
One wonders how long this insect can survive with so many birds picking through the nearby branches, devouring everything in reach. Swamp Sparrows, Marsh Wrens, and this Common Yellowthroat were very busy scooping up all they could find.
Birds aren't the only threat near the lake. Anoles are in full territorial and mating mode. These tiny dinosaurs rule the low branches and grasses right now.
An interesting day but we had hoped it would be a bit more active. On the way home, Andrew found one of the last remaining Hooded Mergansers in a pond near I-4. They will all be gone by next week or so and return near the end of Fall.
We are off next week since a few of us can finally enjoy a Spring Break for the first time in years. April Fools starts the rest of our season and migration should be in full effect.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 1st.
All nets will be opened by 6:45 A.M.