Sunday, May 27, 2012

Session 4 Ends

Well, that wraps up our latest session, the 4th consecutive at Lake Lotus. Now we take a two month break to escape the heat and let the new broods have free reign over their new home and prepare for Session 5 beginning in August. Session 4 marked some surprises and some good data, all of which will be assembled in our Annual Report which will be made accessible through this site as soon as we compile all the information. A post will be made here once that is available.

First, lets delve into our final day at the nets. We had our share of Northern Cardinals, of course, including several juveniles (new and recaptures) and another adult male and female. The female is shown here.

Northern Cardinal

This time of year always allows us to find some interesting insects as we move about the morning. Our first discovery was made by Susan. It is a Curve-toothed Geometer Moth. Very pretty thing.

Geometer Moth

Red-eyed Vireos are not uncommon in the area but we don't catch a whole lot of them. Always nice to see that bright red eye and those greens and yellows.

Red-eyed Vireo

Out near the lake we find more fauna to admire. Green Anoles are being displaced by Cuban Anoles so it is nice to find them in good numbers at the park.

Green Anole

Next to the Anole, an Eastern Pondhawk rests on some grasses.

Eastern Pondhawk

Then another large dragonfly began zooming up and down the river. Taking photos of dragonflies in flight is always a challenge. Andrew managed one fairly clear shot. Still, the trickier part is getting a good ID when you don't really study them. Luckily, we have friends like Randy and Mary who help confirm or outright find the IDs for us. They tell us that this is a Prince Baskettail.

Prince Baskettail

Dragonflies often get caught in our nets which are sometimes a puzzle to extract but it allows us some close looks at them as we do. This very large dragonfly, a Georgia Rivercruiser, was retrieved from Net 10 and brought back to the table for a photo before release.

Prince Baskettail

It was back at the table when the sunshine drew our attention to a flash of color between the trees. The web of a Spiny Orb Weaver made web-bows in the breeze.

Spiny Orb Weaver

A closer inspection shows the smiley-face pattern on their backs. These are very common in Florida.

Spiny Orb Weaver

Back out near the lake we found this plant flowering. Still trying to get an ID on it. New to us.

Unknown Flower

Andrew's sons joined him today and the youngest noticed some butterflies he admired. On the walk back to the table we were able to get a shot of one of the many White Peacock Butterflies flying around the riverside.

White Peacock Butterfly

Nearby, a female Fiery Skipper rests among the Richardia.

Fiery Skipper

Oh, yeah. Birds! Our Bird-of-the-Day was brought back by Christine yelling, "Camera!" as she approached. We cannot band hummingbirds (that requires a special permit) but we do occasionally capture them, get some photos, and then release them.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

As is often the case, hummingbirds will rest in your hand for a bit before launching back into the air. This female stayed for about 10 seconds.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

So, Session 4 is in the books. We even managed to reach a total of 301 captured birds over our stretch of Sunday's and special demonstrations. We will check the totals for the past Sessions and compare this year to previous ones and post that in the report, as well.

You can also check back in the next few weeks. We are hoping to make some other changes to the blog to include more information that will make it easier for visitors to locate us and more detailed contact info. There are some other demonstration opportunities in the wings next Fall which we will detail later.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 5th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Better Than Expected

Getting into the hotter portion of the year and we had two weeks remaining. What might today bring? Mostly, Cardinals. They made up the bulk of our birds. One of the feistiest was this adult female who had to be given something to bite besides our fingers.

Northern Cardinal

We also netted a few of our other locals, including some Carolina Wrens. No babies yet but nesting adults.

Carolina Wren

There was a sad discovery along the way. The tree where we found Downy Woodpeckers last week had been broken off during a strong storm that swept through during the week. We found the broken branch where the nest was but no sign of any young birds. Hope they made it out in time.

Downy Woodpecker

The adult female was still nearby and seemed to be excavating a new hole or two.

Downy Woodpecker

Overhead, in the other direction, a Northern Parula finds a new meal.

Northern Parula

A couple of trees down, a fledgling Red-shouldered Hawk calls out for more food.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Richard brought back a couple of Red-winged Blackbirds for us. A male and female. The female was an adult.

Red-winged Blackbird

We quickly noticed an unusual thing about our new lady. She had only one talon. All of the others were missing. No clue how or when. It was an otherwise completely healthy bird.

Red-winged Blackbird

Our male was a first Spring bird. Almost in full adult plumage, it still has markings of a younger Red-winged Blackbird.

Red-winged Blackbird

We end our day with one of our newly fledged Northern Cardinals.

Northern Cardinal

Here is hoping that the weather holds for our final day of Session 4. If it is as good as today then it will be a great way to end before the real heat sets in and we will prepare for Session 5.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 27th.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Little Better

The predicted rain did not materialize much over the past week but we did catch a few more birds. Only two weeks remain in our 2011-2012 Session. Then we pack up for the months of June and July. By then the humidity should return and we will all be happy sleep in.

Still, work to do today so we got things in gear with the help of a visitor, Lauren, and listened to the dawn chorus at sunrise. The Barred Owls were not heard this morning but Richard and Christine did see one fly across the road as they approached the parking area. No Towhee calls, either, but we did finally get a Chuck-wills-widow to give us a few calls before the morning began.

Our first catch of the day was an infrequent animal. A Little Brown Bat. We do get one or two every session but we usually don't get a good photo. Andrew used a holding bag to secure the bat while Christine managed to free its legs and wings. We then walked it back to the table for a photo and then released it safely into the morning air.

Little Brown Bat

A few minutes later, Charles announced that was something in Net 3. The bat had just flown in that direction so we feared the worse. Fortunately, it was our first bird of the day. A Common Yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat

Shortly thereafter, Richard returned from his round and delivered a Red-winged Blackbird which Lauren got to band. Add another adult female to this species list.

Red-winged Blackbird

Things soon grew quiet and we did our rounds and kept an eye out for anything special. Nope. The bull gator did finally glide across the lake but there was not much activity anywhere for a stretch. We did notice that the Button Bushes are moving into full bloom. Such an intricate and fascinating flower.

Button Bush

During one run we noticed some little noises that seemed to be coming from an overhead branch in one of the dead trees near the end of the net lanes. Closer inspection revealed a pair of Downy Woodpeckers coming and going to a small hole where the chicks were calling for food. Here, the male makes a quick leap from home to find more insects.

Downy Woodpecker

He didn't usually have to go too far. We followed the sounds of some baby Cardinals into the shade and the woodpecker zoomed in. He inspected each branch and crevice before making a catch and returning to the tree.

Downy Woodpecker

When things get too quiet, Andrew hops the river. Some smaller gators were seen and Purple Gallinules waded through the vegetation on the far side of the lake. Closer to the pier, a Common Gallinule poses in all its silky glory. Love those feet!

Common Gallinule

Along the boardwalk next to the river a Red-shouldered Hawk flew off but led to the discovery of another that has recently left the nest.

Red-shouldered Hawk

With things being quiet we decided to call it a morning. Just as we were closing the nets we made 3 more captures. Out near the lake we got our second Common Yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat

Over at Net 9, Charles got two juvenile Northern Cardinals. Both females. You can easily tell the younger birds by their black bills and yellow gape still present. Cardinal bills turn their familiar orange as they reach adulthood.

Northern Cardinal

That wraps our morning! Forecast is again calling for a better chance of rain for the next week. We shall see...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 20th.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

More Noisy Than Busy

What would today bring? Lingering migrants? Newly fledged young? Not in the nets. We captured a whopping one bird today. A Carolina Wren that we actually caught last week, too.

Carolina Wren

There was a nice surprise just after the nets were set by sunrise. A call that seemed familiar yet strange. It took a few minutes but it was solved as the recollections of our former banding site rushed back and it was happily recognized as calling Eastern Towhees. Andrew crossed the river to try for a view of the birds but they were hidden deep in the willows between the boardwalk and the lake. Instead, another stranger was emerging from the woods...


Maria, in turn, took her view of Andrew crossing the shallow river back to the banding side. How they got photos of each other with arms akimbo we may never know.


Of course, we know what to do when the birds aren't cooperating. Nature watching! You find all sorts of things of interest like this Lubber Grasshopper. They emerge as black with red lines and then transform into black and yellow. The most interesting part is that you can see the beginning of the final phase underway. The black exoskeleton is starting to peel, exposing the orange adult form lurking underneath.


A little beetle rests on a a leaf. We were kindly informed that it is a Groundselbush Beetle, Trirhabda bacharidis. (Thanks, Mary!)


Not much was happening out on the lake, either. Only Common Gallinules and some blooming Water Cowbane (or Common Water Dropwort), (Oxypolis filiformis).


On the edge of the woods the Blackberries are finally baring fruit.


We are also still finding Common Checkered Skippers. Once you find one you seem to see them everywhere!

Common Checkered Skipper

Ah, birds at last! Well, the flock of Cedar Waxwings are still cleaning the cherry tree of berries.

Cedar Waxwing

Along the net lanes we found several green and black flies hovering in the air at eye level.


A Ladybug ended up in a net and was placed back onto a leaf. Definitely needed a picture.


The morning wore on and dragonflies began to take wing along the river. Here, an Eastern Pondhawk, (Erythemis simplicicollis) lands on a grass stalk. (Thanks, again, Mary!!)

Eastern Pondhawk

Beginning to head toward full flower are the stands of Elderberry. The Red-bellied Woodpeckers love the non-toxic, black fruit. Maybe we should made jam this year...

Southern Elderberry

One reason the end of the net lanes are free of smaller birds is that they are not wanting to be near the patrolling hawks. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks pretty much have this area covered.

Red-shouldered Hawk

You never know what you will find. Andrew was looking for something completely different when he looked into the river and found this.

American Alligator

Not the first time we have seen this gator this far up the river but still unexpected. Notice the way it is floating with its back legs resting on the river bed.

American Alligator

Perhaps it is looking for an easier meal like these nesting Sunfish.


See, we can still fill a long post despite the lack of birds! Another event that happened was that Richard and Maria went out to Lawton Elementary School in Oviedo to provide information about bird banding for the kids throughout the day.


Somehow, Maria still managed to find a snake even in the concrete jungle.


Forecast is calling for a better chance of rain for the next week. It might make the river rise too much for crossing. That will be fine as long as we catch more birds.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 13th.
All nets will be opened by 6:10 A.M.