Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter? What Winter?

We arrive on the second day of Winter to another pink sunrise and projected high temperature of...87 F (30.5 C) degrees! What Winter? It was feeling like is should be a birdy day but it was not to be.


The morning began promisingly enough with a couple new Hermit Thrushes. First an adult.

Hermit Thrush

Next up was a juvenile Hermit Thrush. By now we usually only recapture birds that have arrived and are staying through the season so it was actually a surprise to get two new birds of this species.

Hermit Thrush

We also recaptured an adult Carolina Wren. Unfortunately, that was the extent of our captures for the rest of the morning.

Carolina Wren

Which leaves time to explore. Christine found a discarded snake skin near Net 22. Probably a Black Racer and about 4 feet long.


Waiting for the warmth of the Sun, a Green Anole rests on some Blackberry leaves.


Primrose Willow are very hardy, attractive plants but they are also very invasive. They are spreading into many areas along the river and near the lake so we are removing some just to keep the lanes clear.

Primrose Willow

Lynn found a nice spider's web being illuminated by the rising Sun. If you can get situated properly you can often get some nice patterns of light on them and, at times, full rainbow patterns.

Spider Web

Lynn also seems to trip over a Marsh Rabbit or two during the day.

Marsh Rabbit

Susan captured a nice display of Lichen. There are numerous species in Central Florida in a wide variety of colors.


There were many warblers down at the mouth of the river leading into Lake Lotus but they never strayed close enough to Net 21 as hoped. However, Lynn managed to find an interesting bird feeding in the willows.

This Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler might be someone we know. Note the band! Probably a bird we have captured in the past returning to its Wintering grounds. We do know that Andrew always bands them on the right leg. If only we could make out that number from here. Perhaps next time.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

So, that is a wrap on the 2013 portion of Session 6. We will take a week off for the holidays and current weather might include rain next weekend, anyway. Now we catch what we can as the run-up to Spring migration nears.

We never know what to expect, weather-wise, for the next couple of months. In Florida our coldest times are actually in late January into February before Spring. Could bring rain, frost, or more heat.

In the meantime, we wish all a very Happy New Year. 2013 was on the slow side and we hope to turn that around next year.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, January 5th.
All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

No Banding December 15th

No banding For us today. Waking to gusty winds was not a good sign.

A cold front arrived at the wrong time and did not clear until mid-morning. We will try for next week!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 22nd.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Warblers Increasing But We Have to Watch Our Step

We had nice weather today but the dew was still all over. Even without rain, Nature tries to create rainbows where ever it can.


The small amount of moisture in the air also helps to make the webs of Bowl and doily spiders (Frontinella communis) stand out easily among the vegetation along the net lanes.

Bowl and doily spider

The dawn chorus gave us the sound of many birds waking up. Some were even moving before daylight as warblers could be heard flying overhead. Our first bird of the morning looked like a leaf in the net at first glance but turned out to be a recaptured Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

Soon, a recaptured House Wren found itself in a net. This bird was just regrowing its tail feathers and they were really short.

House Wren

Taking advantage of the morning dew was a newly emerging Mushroom


Nearby, a Butterfly waits for the Sun to warm its wings.


Not waiting for the sunlight to creep lower, an Anole scales a branch to fuel up quicker.


A little higher in the trees, Red-bellied Woodpeckers begin their early gathering. It is often difficult to see where this bird gets its name but in this shot you can definitely see that red belly.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Warblers were flocking all around the mouth of the river. We were hoping to catch more today but two Palm Warblers is a good start for now. Also with the 'butter butts' was our first Orange-crowned Warbler of the season. We should start catching them soon.

Palm Warbler

A recaptured Carolina Wren joined the list midway through the morning.

Carolina Wren

A Crane Fly made an offer to be banded but we don't have them that small!

Crane Fly

The Blue Jays stayed higher in the trees today. Seems they were busy picking acorns for the Winter.

Blue Jay

Last week we caught two Northern Cardinals in the double net set and today we caught two new birds in the same area. The new male was a skip away from that area in Net 16.

Northern Cardinal

The new female Northern Cardinal was in the exact same spot as our recaptured female from last week.

Northern Cardinal

For the past three weeks we have been hearing the croaking of baby American Alligators. They were just around the bend from the mouth of the river. Today, as we were watching Net 21, Lynn spotted some small movement in the water next to the net. The gators are now in the river itself.

American Alligator

We counted at least 8 American Alligators, most this year's model. We searched hard for Mama but did not see her. Doesn't mean she wasn't hiding under the vegetation along the waterway. We will have to watch our step for sure when we set up in the future. Alligators have been seen as far up the river as by the banding table but by nature they are afraid of humans and would rather leave than confront people.

American Alligator

Our final catch of the day was a recaptured Gray Catbird we first banded a year and one month ago. Our returning recaptures are getting better all the time.

Gray Catbird

On the way home Andrew stopped by a local retention pond to look for Hooded Mergansers. The females were easy to photograph but the males were busy diving for cover.

Hooded Merganser

More cold fronts are scheduled for the week and we hope to get more warblers. American Goldfinches are being heard more frequently and they were even landing and calling from the trees along the river. Maybe this year we can get our firsts in the nets.

NOTE: No banding on the 15th. Looks like rain and wind. ______________________________________
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 22nd.
All nets will be opened by 6:40 A.M.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Better Late Than Never

The day was forecast for some nice weather but it began with dense fog all over and it actually lasted most of the morning. At least it wasn't soaking wet. Even by the late morning the fog was still clinging to the lake.

Lake Fog

The first birds of the morning were coming in well and they were all recaptures, including a House Wren.

House Wren

We then caught two Hermit Thrushes previously banded over the years. We were recently wondering where the thrushes were.

Hermit Thrush

Rounding up the dawn captures was one of our adults Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Wren

Then things got pretty quiet. Really quiet. Time to turn some attention to other sights. One thing we are still upset by is the spraying done recently which killed a couple of our best planted Wax Myrtles despite them being marked well for folks to avoid messing with.

Wax Myrtle

Almost glowing in the understory was a growth of Shelf Fungus. This growth actually appeared a couple of years ago on the same tree and was not here last weekend.

Shelf Fungus

The drier conditions are allowing us to stomp out a path to the lakeside so we took some time to see if anything was out there. Seems some folks look for birds in a different way! Not much happening out there except for the croaking of baby alligators. Our first flock of Cedar Waxwings flew over while we scanned for Momma Gator.


Looking for alligators is a little stressful. Doesn't make it easier when you hear sudden noises from the underbrush. Fortunately, most of those noises are from sparrows and Swamp Rabbits.

Swamp Rabbit

When things get slow, we try to clear out the river from trash that has flowed down after the big rains earlier in the year. One stretch in particular has been 'bottled' up. The Little Wekiva River is partially fed by run-off from Orlando and many interesting things float down through the waterway. We are trying to clear out the bottles, sporting equipment, shoes, and other debris before it reaches the lake but this spot is very deep and we will have to keep trying as the water levels drop during the Winter.


While clearing the trash Lynn noticed activity just down the river. Our family of Raccoons was exploring the exposed mud for treats.


Soon, the family made their way to the shore and then up into a palm tree. Easy does it, little guy!


Once they reached the top of the palm, they began harvesting the berries in reach.


Our little bandits were an amusing distraction but we decided that the day was about done. One more shot before closing up.


As we began to close nets an interesting wave of birds hit the nets. In fact, we caught more birds in the last 20 minutes than we did earlier in the day. Susan got to a White-eyed Vireo in Net 19 first.

White-eyed Vireo

We hung the bagged bird on a tree and went on to Net 20 nearby. Waiting there was a female Black-and-White Warbler.

Black-and-White Warbler

As the Black-and-White Warbler was being extracted, a Palm Warbler flew into the same net just a few feet away. Palm Warblers were seen all morning down in the marsh so it was a surprise to have one bolt in from the woods.

Palm Warbler

A bit further down the lanes at Net 9 there were even more birds in the net. Two of them were Northern Cardinals. This male was first banded a few months ago.

Northern Cardinal

Just a foot away was a female Northern Cardinal we first banded 3 1/2 years ago. Seems she found a pal.

Northern Cardinal

It is hard to always pick the Bird-of-the-Day, especially since we were quickly getting many new species for the morning, but it is always a treat to catch a Blue-headed Vireo in the same net not far from the Cardinals.

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireos are often heard here through the Spring but they typically stay high in the canopy. Maybe the calls from the Cardinals drew it close enough for capture. A truly beautiful bird.

Blue-headed Vireo

So, a slow mid-morning paid off with a lot of interesting birds by the end of the day. The season is rapidly changing and the plants are in flux. Cattails are sloughing off their outer layers and we wait for the remaining Wintering birds to settle down. Maybe we can get a Goldfinch or Waxwing this year.


Should be a clear morning next weekend. Hopefully we won't step on an alligator...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 8th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.