Sunday, August 26, 2012

Storm Watch

Tropical Storm Isaac was closing in on the edge of southern Florida but the radar indicated that we could probably get our day of banding in before the rain arrived. All we needed was a few hours on this Sunday morning. A large batch of storms were being pushed toward Central Florida ahead of the tropical weather so we headed out, fingers crossed.

We were secretly hoping for some sort of fall-out ahead of the weather but it was not to be. We began the day with a couple of Carolina Wrens and then things grew quiet. As we were setting nets in the dark we could see the reflections of barricades across the river. Odd. Just after daylight, Rangers Frank and Gary stopped by to ask if we had seen the dock. Nope. But on clearer inspection...


The dock is part of the new school programs being developed for the park by the rangers and children will get a chance to sample the waters, its flow rates, and other data during their field trips visits. Looks promising. Might provide some good views of gators from time to time, also.

Another item not noticed in the dark was a very large fungi along the net lanes.


Just how large? Here is a shot with Andrew's simple cell phone laid upon it. The phone is 4 1/4 inches so this fungi is about 8 inches across!


Out near the pier, a Viceroy Butterfly flitted along the blades of the Guinea Grass.


The rest of our day was pretty uneventful and we were wondering if we could even make our last year's date of 3 birds. Fortunately, some Downy Woodpeckers were foraging along the mouth of the river and helped us beat our record of 2011 of this week. Susan was busy with a couple of clingy birds before we headed back to the table.

Downy Woodpecker

The interesting thing was that we caught two females but the male was basically oblivious to their calls and continued to feed through the willows.

Downy Woodpecker

At least he provided some good photo ops as we got the females into bags.

Downy Woodpecker

Back at the table, we banded the woodpeckers and took the youngest back to where Dad was for release.

Downy Woodpecker

As we ended our day, we discovered some fun insects like this Webworm Moth on some branches.

Webword Moth

Bob made a find right near the table that made us all pause. It was a small Stink Bug with a nearly smiling face on its back. Still trying to decide on the exact species.

Stink Bug

While Andrew got the photos of the Stink Bug, he noticed a grasshopper hiding nearby. The antennae were three times as large as the critter itself.


Nets were gathered and the rain hit just as we got to our cars. Great timing. We should have a better weather next week and the counts should improve during our next attempts. Gearing up for a couple weeks from now when a larger amount of migrants flow through.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 2nd.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Migrants Return

A good mix of birds were seen today and we finally had the return of some expected migrants. Of course, we have our locals to round up and we caught a couple of new Carolina Wrens, both molting.

Carolina Wren

We also recaptured a male Northern Cardinal and got a new adult female.

Carolina Wren

A couple of weeks late, but we were happy to capture some Northern Waterthrushes out near the lake.

Northern Waterthrush

We almost walked right past another warbler as we gathered some Waterthrushes. Up at the top of the net was a male Northern Parula. So tiny and beautiful.

Northern Parula

Another pleasant surprise was our first Ovenbird of the season. Right on time.


Out in the swampy area next to Net 18 Andrew spied a first time sighting hiding behind the branches. A Prothonotary Warbler was feeding by the water but would not pose for a good photo. Can you find it?

Prothonotary Warbler

We hoped the bird would fly into the nets but it was not to be. Nor did the other warblers nearby, like this Prairie Warbler.

Prairie Warbler

Our day ended with one more Northern Parula.

Northern Parula

Watching the Tropics. We should be able to get through next Sunday but we could have a hurricane on our hands soon afterwards.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 26th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 2 A Little Quiet

We had a much quieter day today but the weather was nice. Hot, but nice. Still no Waterthrushes and we only captured local birds today. Carolina Wrens and Cardinals. Our first capture was a male Northern Cardinal we first banded a year and half ago and was going through some head molt.

Northern Cardinal

That Cardinal was captured in our latest net installation. Net 22. It is situated between #16 and #10 and fills a gap we had and should be a good spot for buntings in a month or so.

Net 22

One of our Carolina Wren captures was one of the babies we banded last week. Guess it hasn't figured out how to avoid the nets. Yet.

Carolina Wren

Of course, when things get a bit slow we take time to explore the flora and fauna. The Guinea Grass (Panicum maximum) is exploding all along the net lanes and is in full bloom. Should be an abundant supply of seed by the time the migration hits soon.

Guinea Grass

Despite the heavy grass growth, the Scarlet Morning Glory (Ipomoea hederifolia) continues to find some open spaces to sprinkle the green with bursts of red.

Scarlet Morning Glory

Among the other vegetation, one of the Leaf-legged bug species (Acanthocephala femorata) huddle on the branches of some small oaks and other plants.

American Redstart

Not a lot of activity down by the lake, either. Mainly Queen butterflies and smaller things like this Powdered Dancer damselfly (Argia moesta). This is the first time we have noticed them.

Powdered Dancer

Overhead, a dragonfly rests on the tip of a branch. We will tentatively ID it as a Black Saddledbags (Tramea lacerata).

Powdered Dancer

Hopefully the fronts will shift a bit so we can begin getting the migrants next week.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 19th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Session 5 Begins

We ventured out into the humid first Sunday in August to begin Session 5 at Lake Lotus. We still have some vegetation to deal with as the recent rains have really set of a growth spurt all along the river. Even the rangers say they are having a hard time keeping up on their side.

As the season progresses, bet we see a nice Fall, bird-wise.

As for today, most of our bird captures were locals. Totally expected. Almost every bird we captured was in heavy molt. Our most numerous bird species captured were the Carolina Wrens. Babies are all over the place and males are still singing. We captured a few babies and a proud parent.

Carolina Wren

Cardinals are fewer in evidence but we did get a female near the lake.

Northern Cardinal

At the same time, we captured one of the huge numbers of Northern Parula that had a very good breeding season this year.

Northern Parula

Another excellent bird near the lake found the nets. A Great-crested Flycatcher. It snapped away as we prepared it for release. Always a fun bird to view up close.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Besides wing molting, this birds is molting out tail feathers, as well.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Just as we thought we might not get a migrant for the day, we caught a good one. A female American Redstart! A Black and White Warbler was also observed across the river. Migration is under way.

American Redstart

No Waterthrushes yet. In the past, we have banded them around the 7-8th. Next week should find them back in the park. Can't wait!

Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 12th.
All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Session 4 Annual Report

Just in time to begin Session 5, we present the Annual Report for Session 4. The report contains information about our banding site, a chart of captured and banded birds, photos and stories of our banding events, and links to local birding organizations.

Session 4 Cover

This report is a PDF files (6.3 MB) and can be read online by clicking here. If you wish to read it later, just right-click that link and save to your computer.

We are compiling other data to compare and should have those reports available in the future.

Session 5 begins next Sunday!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 5th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.