Andrew took a walk through the net lanes on Saturday and was greeted by numerous Indigo Buntings along the river. Indications were that we would have a pretty good bunting catch today. The call was out for all who could attend to be there to enjoy the bounty.
Arriving before dawn, Greg, our newest volunteer, assisted setting nets in the dark. The first birds heard, even in the pre-dawn darkness, were Indigo Buntings calling. If you want a crash course on banding at Lake Lotus, arrive early during peak migration weeks in October.
As you can see, our first run was excellent with a lot of species waking up as the Sun rose. A lot of buntings right off the bat. Our two female Painted Bunting were part of this run but the photos didn't work out that well. We caught varying ages of Indigos but we focused on the blue today.
A nice surprise was an early morning Eastern Phoebe. Usually, they start flying later in the morning once the light is better and insects are on the move.
We only captured a couple of Gray Catbirds but one was special. You can't really see it in this shot, but this bird had a very visible gape telling us that this bird was fledged not too long ago and has made it down on its first migration. Confirmed southern records only have Catbirds breeding as far south as Georgia so maybe it was not too far from home.
The early tally was heavily in favor of buntings and we only caught one Common Yellowthroat in the early going. That would change as the morning wore on.
Carolina Wrens were represented, as usual, with some recaptures of our residents.
Charles had just passed Net 2 before Andrew checked it again. There, Andrew found a nice, feisty, White-eyed Vireo waiting in the net.
Common Yellowthroats barely edged our bunting captures by the end of the day. After getting mostly adult birds we managed to get an immature male.
The recaptured male Northern Cardinal avoided the nets for most of the day. We heard him all morning and he actually flew into the net as we began to take them down.
We ended our day with a few more Indigo Buntings and we probably could have sat around and gathered more all day long. However, our hours are limited so we enjoy each bird we can get in our window each Sunday. We took the opportunity of the brighter sunlight to capture the brilliance of the blues visible on even the Winter plumaged males.
We should have at least one more good weekend of buntings next Sunday. Fronts are forecast to push through again and give us drier, cooler temperatures and the possibility of our first Wintering Sparrows. Can't wait!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 21st.
All nets will be opened by 6:55 A.M.