The approaching front seemed to slow a bit overnight and we headed toward the banding site encountering light sprinkles. There were not suppose to be any precipitation! We decided to give it a go, anyway, and hope the mists would clear soon. What we did expect were heavy winds that did arrive as the morning moved along.
Even though we have still had some rain of late, the Little Wekiva River continues to get lower as it does every Winter. One of our tasks is to try and remove trash stuck behind some obstacles since the heavy rains earlier in the year and the dropping levels are allowing us to get to some of that mess.
Our first bird of the morning was a Brown Thrasher, a fan favorite.
The most captured species today were Carolina Wrens. All recaptured several that were banded over the years. At least they are now moving about more.
Last week we mentioned that the city was in the area and spraying poison all over the place to counter some invasive plants. Their efforts were rather effective and it seems that citrus is also on their hit list. This Tangerine tree and another provided occasional breakfasts for us and the local Black Bears but it appears that bounty is over. The Florida State Flower is the Orange Blossom. Go figure.
A nice surprise of the day was a female Downy Woodpecker. These birds have been feeding all around Net 21 for the past few weeks and we have caught more in this area this year than anywhere else.
As the seasons change we get a more mixed variety of fungus appearing along the lanes. Next to Net 4 we found this attractive growth of white mushrooms.
Every morning we hear those Gray Catbird calls from the underbrush. Now and then the ghosts of the woods appear to watch us as we checked the nets.
Still, it took us until near the end of our day to capture one. A feisty juvenile.
By 9:30 the winds did begin to howl and opened the nets easily into sails. We watched several birds hit nets and escape since they could not land in a pocket, as usual. We watched one particular bird most of the morning do this. An Eastern Phoebe. It was feeding all around two of our nets, would hit them and then escape to perch nearby or even atop the net poles. It would only be a matter of time, we thought. Indeed, during a lull in the gusts it hit Net 11 and was brought in for banding.
We determined that this was a juvenile Eastern Phoebe first by the remaining gape at the base of the bill. Once they age, this hardens into a solid bill.
Blue Jays were being heard all morning or seen feeding in the trees overhead. We catch a few over the course of our sessions but not too many. At the end of the morning we got one finally flying low.
This Blue Jay was a large adult male. That is an interesting bent tail, fella! Those blues are always more amazing up close.
Did we say one Blue Jay? In fact, we caught two at the same time! We concluded that they were a pair so we got a shot of them together.
Not a bad mix for a blustery morning. Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers are increasing and hearing the American Robins fly over is a treat. Now to capture some of them. Big changes in weather are due by Thanksgiving and we will see what next Sunday brings.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 1st.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.