Word of the day quickly became: Wind. Gusting winds increased all day making it a little more difficult to capture birds but we soldiered on. We have gathered a ton of photos to cover the entire day so sit back and enjoy.
One of the best discoveries of the morning was seting up the poles at dawn and then beginning to hear American Goldfinches which began to come down to the feeders next to the education center.
Earlier years have revealed Goldfinch flyovers but we have never had a full day of their cheery calls and whistles. Unfortunately, none of the Goldfinches landed in the nets to become our first-ever banded ones.
The crew got everything set-up before the crowds began to arrive.
A couple of Common Ground Doves flew into and out of the nets but we soon had a Northern Cardinal in hand.
She was a beautiful bird and it appears she is getting ready for breeding as her brood patch is easy to see.
Maria took a brief walk around the close ponds and made some nice discoveries like this Purple Gallinule.
Always lurking nearby are many very large American Alligators that call the wetlands home.
We were lucky enough to catch other birds when visitors were around. Not too long after getting the Cardinal, we captured a couple of Myrtle Warblers, commonly called Yelow-rumped Warblers.
The crowd watches as the next bird gets weighed before receiving a band.
An added interruption to our day was the hay rides which rolled through every 15 minutes
Down near our nets, a group of visitors gathers to listen to the rangers as they scoop out critters from the waters.
At the other end of the nets, a Pearl Crescent flutters around in its typical spot.
Down near the fresh water we find a lot of blooming Bay Lobeilia.
Richard spent a lot of time talking to interested visitors about banding, native plants, and the evils of St. Augustine lawns.
The wind got very strong and we were considering closing for the day when a Gray Catbird flew into the nets. One more species added. Maria found a dragonfly down in one net.
We called it a day and decided to get in some bird watching before the end of the day. Right around the corner, Blue-winged Teal were resting in the vegetation.
A Glossy Ibis almost posed for a nice photos but jumped up to fly away at the last second.
Another American Alligator glides through the water along the berm road bearing a toothy grin before submerging beneath the waves.
American Coots gathered and fed in large rafts in several locations throughout the wetlands.
Out in the open, the wind was really howling. It was still pretty though. Tree Swallows skimmed the water but were still too fast for any good shots.
Out of seemingly nowhere, a Savannah Sparrow emerged from the reeds and posed for a moment before racing back into hidding.
A couple of American Coot split off from the bigger flocks and chomped on the vegetation floating on the surface of the water.
The main target of this bird walk, however, was the Vermillion Flycatcher that has returned again this year. There are thoughts that there actually might be 3 out here this year. Problem is, most of the time they stay way out in the cypress trees far from shore. You still can't miss that bright spot of red sitting on the branches..
Once our attention was torn from the flycatcher, on the path back was a bunch of blue flowers. Gorgeous.
A little research led to the discovery of their name. Narrowleaf Blue-eyed Grass. Other Blue-eyed Grass is smaller and paler but this blue is amazing.
Time to head back. Bracing against the wind made it difficult to be too quick on the draw as an Osprey flies by with a snack.
The gator that smiled at us earlier made its way to the other side of the road and settled in for a rest.
We were missing our pool full of baby alligator that we had next to the banding area last. On the way back to the parking lot we found one in another section of the marsh. A good way to end just like we did last year.
The following morning was too cold and windy to band so we slept in for once. Weather willing, we will be back out next Sunday.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 24th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.