Sunday, August 25, 2013

More Wet...But Migrants!

Yet another soggy morning as the rain continued to fall on Saturday nights and there is no time to dry anything out by dawn. At least we finally started netting migrants today. The worse part of the morning was trying to get photos through lenses that kept fogging up. Otherwise, it was a pretty magical morning. Expect a longer than usual post...

We captured our usual selection of Carolina Wrens during the morning. Adults and young are calling all over the net lanes.

Carolina Wren

The first bird that really woke us up was our first Ovenbird of the season. We were expecting one last week as that is their usual arrival time. We can forgive a little tardiness. This time.


Butterflies were abundant today. White Peacocks always make a nice contrast against the lush green.

White Peacock

The Argiope spiders seem to have been washed away in yesterday's rain while other spiders filled in the gaps. The largest was this Golden-silk Spider that had spun a web several feet wide over the palmettos. Note the golden strand to the right which gives this orb weaver its name.

Golden-silk Spider

Loud chip notes were beginning to be heard down the lanes which had to be the other late migrant we were awaiting. Lynn happened upon our first Northern Waterthrush of the season. These are typically one of our early arrivers near the beginning of August but the fronts sealed up the Florida border early on.

Northern Waterthrush

At the same time Lynn was extracting the Northern Waterthrush, Andrew was busy with another species in an adjacent net. A Louisiana Waterthrush! This species is seen less often in the area.

Louisiana Waterthrush

More rare is the fact that we caught both species at the same time. We usually don't even catch them on the same day. This let us get some good comparison shots back at the table. Here, the Northern Waterthrush is on the left, Louisiana Waterthrush on the right. Note how the Northern is typically more yellow-ish.

Northern and Louisiana Waterthrush

Another way to separate them is but the throat patterns. Northerns (r) have spotting all the way to the bill and Louisianas (l) have no spots. You can really see it in the singular photo of the Louisiana two photos above.

Northern and Louisiana Waterthrush

There were two other birds captured at the same time as the Waterthrushes but farther down at Net 21. A pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds! A male and female.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

We seem to catch at least one Ruby-throated Hummingbird each Session (as you can see by the image on the left side banner) but here were two. We are not licensed to band hummingbirds so we can only document and release them. The female was handed off to Lynn's daughter and niece.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Just before that, we got a shot of the tail feathers. Andrew contacted a fellow bander from South Carolina, Bill Hilton, to ask for some more details about our birds. Bill runs the Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History (click for his website) and operates Operation RubyThroat. He knows his Hummingbirds!

A few shots were sent to get some more detailed information. About the photo below, Bill says:
"Well-formed, rounded tail feathers with white tips and the lack of significant brown edging on the back feathers suggest this is an adult female Ruby-throated Hummingbird."
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Andrew set to extracting the male.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The female rested for a bit. Hummingbirds need a kind of reboot after being captured but are fine. This photo prompted Bill to add:
"Note the relatively long bill--this structure is longer in females. Again, based on a lack of buffy edging on back feathers, this appears to be an adult female."
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

She was so relaxed by now that she even preened for a while.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Next up, the male. We tried to get some good shots of the Ruby-throat but it was not easy. Still, it was enough for some more educating details. Bill, again:
"Hatch-year male Ruby-throated hummingbird with heavy dark throat streaking and several red gorget feathers that appear black without direct sunlight. Note the white tail tips that are characteristic of female ruby-throats AND immature males."
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Lynn finally managed to get one feather to glow.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

A couple minutes later, both birds took off at the same time and vanished into the stand of Willows. A super-special morning, for sure.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Later, a young female Northern Cardinal was captured and banded. Seems we are on our 3rd brood here and in several other spots around the area. Cardinals are born with black bills that gradually turn orange as they age. The twig is for the bander's well-being.

Northern Cardinal

Hiding in a leaf, a tiny Cuban Treefrog pretends to be invisible. Many would have us up and kill them since they are invasive but we were feeling gracious today.

Cuban Treefrog

An as yet unknown species of caterpillar was also found this morning.


An adult male Northern Cardinal was captured at Net 21 (our last bird of the day was a recaptured juvenile female in the same net). There has been an adult male living down in the area for years but this was a new bird. He is also going through some major molting.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Waterthrushes were around all morning but several of them preferred the swampy area behind Net 18. This spot for that net was chosen specifically for Waterthrush captures. They love this part of the lanes when wet.

Northern Waterthrush

One particular bird remained in one stretch of shore flipping leaves in search of food. It would fly off if we walked by but would quickly return.

Northern Waterthrush

Unfortunately, it would never fly into the net. Oh, well, there is always next week.

Northern Waterthrush

Thanks, again, to Bill Hilton for the extra hummingbird information. Be sure to head over to his site at Hilton Pond for all sorts of interesting information about Nature and their banding results. You can even sign up for an email newsletter to keep up to date with their findings. Operation RubyThroat is also full of information. Maybe one day we can attend one of their trips to Central America to trap some of those birds.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 1st.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Still Too Wet and Quiet

Another late night soaking. Another early morning sloshing. Another slow birding day. At least there were a few bright spots in the day. Like when Christine walked through the sun rays along the lanes.


A close look at a Painted Leaf plant gives away the amount of moisture still in the area. Takes a a while for bugs and birds to start moving in all the wet. We did manage to catch a few Carolina Wrens today. No expected Ovenbirds.

Painted Leaf

Christine brought a surprise balloon to celebrate the fact that Andrew finally received his Masters permit this week.


Beauty Berry fruit is ripening. Many birds eat this native fruit on their travels through the area.

Beauty Berry

A Limpkin graced us with a visit during the morning. It spent much of its time right along the banks and barely paid us any attention.


One snack down and time to plung back under water to look for more.


The Limpkin was expert in locating and cracking snails and other shelled delights from the soft sands.


A lone Robber Fly waits for prey as things warm up.

Robber Fly

Many Argiope (Ar-Gee-Oh-Pee) spiders were seen today along the river banks.


So, no netted migrants. We did see a few, including Yellow-throated Warbler, Black and White Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireos. No sign of the earlier reported Cerulean Warbler but we will keep looking next week. Things can only get better.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 25th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Few Birds. More Bugs and Plants.

We spent another typical early August sweating and exploring the area and capturing a few locals like Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Wren

Linda, a friend of the 'family', joined us today and was allowed to release the Wren after it was banded.

Carolina Wren

An Arrowhead Spider set up house next to the banding tables since we were away and we did our best to avoid disturbing its web for as long as possible as it gathered damselflies and other bugs for snacks.

Arrowhead Spider

Lynn found an interesting bug later in the morning. The closest ID we can come close to is a Milkweed Assassin Bug. No photo matches exactly but it is close. Any thoughts?


It has been mentioned before that we have set up native plants near most of the nets. One of the experiments was native Coffee around Net 12. Unfortunately, they declined quickly. However, one returned a couple weeks ago and is now blooming. We will leave it with the Viburnum which replaced the other plants.


One of the biggest winged creatures caught today was a Royal River Cruiser. Beautiful!

Royal River Cruiser

Under the banding table, we found a bug lurking. Turns out to be a Long-horned Beetle which wanted to hang around. We actually had to send it on its way since it did not want to leave.

Long-horned Beetle

While exploring options for Net 21 improvements, a recently fledged Northern Cardinal flew past us and into the net.

Northern Cardinal

Zebra Longwings are in good numbers this year.

Zebra Longwing

Sensitive Briar is in full bloom up and down the trails. Late Summer fireworks.

Sensitive Briar

Lynn found a Bagworm Moth near the table. These can be found all over the area most of the year and it is amazing to see their log cabin-like constructions.

Bagworm Moth

Less seen is what Lynn captured a bit later. The Bagworm Moth (only the females form these structures, BTW) emerged to feed as she was watching and taking close-up photos.

Bagworm Moth

One of the more interesting finds today was this shoe. This area was used as a dumping ground over the decades and we find all kinds of interesting trash from time to time. Never saw a tree growing through a shoe before!


Fronts are sliding across the country and in the Gulf. Will it bring us some migrants or keep them at bay? Sunday will tell. Mid-August is when we usually start seeing and catching Ovenbirds.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 18th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Swallow-tailed Kites at ARC

Three posts in one week?! Busy, busy...

While Andrew was working on Net 21, Richard and Christine were called over to the Avian Reconditioning Center (ARC) to band a couple of Swallow-tailed Kites. The juvenile Kites had fallen out of their nest and were brought in for rehab. Now it is time to release them so the folks at ARC asked Richard to come out and band them for future reference.

Swallow-tailed Kites

Richard banded the first Kite. The band is safely secure.

Swallow-tailed Kites

Allison Miller who volunteers at ARC got to band the second Kite.

Swallow-tailed Kites

Mark Holms, another ARC volunteer, and the woman from the Center for Birds of Prey, where the birds were brought to, prepare to release the young raptors.

Swallow-tailed Kites

One bird makes it to the rooftop to decide on the next move. That dragonfly had better be careful!

Swallow-tailed Kites

Also at the ARC facility was a juvenile Black Vulture in for some rehabing of its own. Isn't it cute?

Black Vulture

Another successful band and release. Swallow-tailed Kites begin preparations for their long journey to South America during August and most are gone by September. Good luck, kids! Er...Kites...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 11th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.