Andrew here. Going to break character for a bit to say a few things.
If I never say it enough, I am extremely grateful to every volunteer that comes our way. Past and present. I put out the word that we would gather at 6:15 AM to prepare for Earth Day and I was pleasantly surprised to find five folks waiting in the rain for me. We had to stand out there for a bit before we could enter the park and everyone gave their all. The rain ended and we set nets quickly as a group. As the day progressed, we cared for the nets and birds and provided great info to the public. As rains returned later, we disassembled everything quickly and efficiently, easily protecting the birds and our gear.
Thanks, gang! Job very well done. Special thanks to Richard for remembering to get us in a group shot. We always forget.
The Banding Crew From left to right: Phyllis, Becki, Andrew, Richard, Christine, Bob, Susan, Lynn. Not pictured is Charles who had to leave early.
Now, the full story...
We arrived in the rain and waited for Frank to let us in to load out gear. We got everything under cover and decided to distribute poles. The rain stopped so we set the rebar, poles, and nets. We actually were able to stay open until almost 2 PM before the rain returned. We quickly captured a banded Gray Catbird. Interesting part is that we first banded that bird 2 years ago after catching it in the same net site and...on Earth Day. The photo below is of another Catbird caught later.
Next up was a Carolina Wren. This was also a recapture that we banded a couple months ago across the river. The rest of the Wren family was feeding all over but never made it into a net.
Warblers were calling n the trees, including several Black-throated Blue Warblers.
It seemed to take forever but we finally caught one.
Two minutes later we caught a second. Such a beautiful bird.
We thought we had one of the other Carolina Wrens at one point but when it was approached it was clear we had something even more fun. A female Indigo Bunting!
There were several calling from both sides of the river but it is fairly late to be hearing this many.
Things grew a bit quiet so there was a little time to do a little looking around the lake. Lynn found a female Northern Cardinal that appeared to be gathering nesting materials. Better still, she has a band!
Out around the fishing pier a couple young American Alligators were hanging out in the shade. One was deeper in the vegetation.
The other was posed up in a nice position.
It seemed strange that there were no Red-Eyed Vireos around today. Just after that thought, one began singing over the boardwalk. The power of suggestion.
Over at the butterfly garden, Lynn discovered a pair of Monarchs on the ground.
One of the other vendors was a butterfly expert and she confirmed they were simply mating. Maybe not simply...
Ranger Cindy helped to find a soon to emerge Monarch.
Nearby in the Coral Honeysuckle was a cool Katydid almost perfectly blended against the leaves.
Lynn also found a fierce looking insect.
The final species of the day was a female Downy Woodpecker.
With every bird brought to the table a crowd quickly gathered to hear about the birds, how and why we band, and to get close-up photos.
Each time, a visitor is chosen to release the bird which instantly creates huge smiles and awe and, hopefully, another mind sparked to consider the fragile existence of birds and nature and to possibly lead some to a lifetime enjoyment of birds.
The rain returned and we headed out. A nice variety but the crowds were lower this year, perhaps due to the changing weather conditions. Everyone we interacted with seemed to have a great time and we look forward to next Earth Day and we return to 'our' side of the river next week.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 28th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.