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.

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