Sunday, February 23, 2014

Foggy Yet Productive

What do you think happened Saturday? If you follow this blog you can guess that it rained. Again. As the front pushed through overnight it left us with more fog in the morning but was promised to clear fairly early. Not really. Our first bird was a recaptured Gray Catbird. This was our white-throated bird be first banded a few months ago.

Gray Catbird

Next up was a recaptured Carolina Wren actually banded across the river during a recent Earth Day event. Usually, the wrens stick to one side of the river or other so it was a nice data point to pick this one up on 'our' side.

Carolina Wren

We then captured a new female Northern Cardinal. Still can't believe we are still getting new Cardinals. Must be moving in to breed as she had a developing brood patch. She was also a younger bird. And very 'bitey', thus the twig.

Northern Cardinal

Before the Sun rose too high we got one of two Eastern Phoebes for the day.

Eastern Phoebe

The fog continued to linger way beyond the expected time frame.


Yellow-rumped Warblers began to feed and hit the nets as the morning wore on.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Richard began to check nest boxes but only found a Flying Squirrel in one of the sites.

Flying Squirrel

Spider Wort are beginning to bloom. We did not even notice the grasshopper hiding in there when the photo was taken.

Spider Wort

Nearby, Innocense is poking up through the leaf litter.


Tent Caterpillars are setting up homes along the lanes and as the morning warmed up they were emerging to feed along the branches.

Tent Caterpillars

The Wild Radish plants are spreading all over among the Earth Smoke and are the most healthy we have ever had here.

Wild Radish

The yellow blooms are a nice contrast against the greens even in the fog.

Wild Radish

We took a soggy trek out to the lake and the fog was still holding tight but was appearing to begin breaking up.

Window by the Lake

Christine noticed one of the Barred Owls hunkered down in the oak not far from the nest tree but we had to work a bit to get a clear shot through the branches.

Barred Owl

Then the sunlight finally broke through the fog and presented us with more banding opportunities. While we were processing a couple of recaptured birds Christine began calling for help just down from the table. We quickly added 7 more birds to our day as the weather improved.


The bird Andrew is holding above is a recaptured Hermit Thrush trapped just beyond the banding table. Susan checks the data on the previous banding date.

Hermit Thrush

We got a White-eyed Vireo which was yet another recapture for the day.

White-eyed Vireo

What Christine was calling about was a few birds in Net 11. Very vocal Red-bellied Woodpeckers were in the net. A female was there and easily extracted.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The male was a bit harder to get out of the net as it had its tongue snagged in the mesh. After a few tries it was safely brought back to the table, too.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Many novice birders call these birds Red-headed Woodpeckers since their heads are covered in red feathers but they are named for their red feathers on their stomachs which is seldomed seen in the wild.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Brought in by the distress calls from the woodpeckers, a recaptured House Wren hit the net below the male Red-bellied Woodpecker.

House Wren

Our other netted Yellow-rumped Warbler to round up the day was an interesting bird. It had a much more 'buttery' coloring than most suggesting it has a possibility of hybrid of Myrtle and Audubon sub-species. We captured three of these colored birds last year. More research in underway.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

We will be doing a banding demonstration at Magnolia Park for the 2nd Annual Birdapalooza event at Lake Apopka this Saturday. If we are not too wiped out after that we will also band at Lake Lotus on Sunday, March 2nd.

NOTE: No banding on March 2nd. Got out of the Birdapalooza day too late. We will head back to Lotus on the 9th.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Saturday, March 1st at Magnolia Park for Birdapalooza at Lake Apopka.
All nets will be opened by 7:30 A.M.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

2014 Orlando Wetlands Festival

Oh, Fickle February. We never know what you will bring.

Since the Orlando Wetlands Festival was moved to February several years ago the weather has been unpredictable every year. One year it was freezing with frost coating everything until mid-morning. Another year it rained so hard they had to cancel the event. Yet another was quite pleasant and we captured dozens of birds. This year we would have gusty winds all day long. At least we could enjoy the Moon setting as we set poles and nets.


As dawn broke so did the silence. Sandhill Cranes began flying in from across the road and headed to the main wetlands ponds.

Sandhill Crane

We were pleased that we actually caught 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers as we were setting up nets. Maybe it would be a productive day after all.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Danny brought Brandy for the experience and some bird watching and she got to release one of our 'early birds'.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Across from the banding table a Northern Cardinal asks a good question. "Where is all the bird seed?" Usually full, the feeders were empty. A shame. We always count on watching Goldfinches there every year.

Northern Cardinal

It was suppose to be windy but sunny all day. So where did this storm come from? Part of a trailing cold front threw a batch of, thankfully, light rain and we had to close the nets for a hour or so. Gave some of us a chance to head to the main part of the event and get our yearly T-shirts.


The rain was letting up so we re-opened the nets. Soon, we captured a female Northern Cardinal. We actually banded her at last year's event. Glad to see her still doing fine.

Northern Cardinal

One of the event guests was allowed to release the Northern Cardinal. Pretty brave. Cardinals can often give a nasty bite.

Northern Cardinal

Some of ponds nearby were full of birds and many of us took shifts to have a look. Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal were some of the most abundant species close to the shore as the storm tried to blow through.

Green-winged Teal

Out by some of the Sandhill Cranes a White-faced Ibis stood around while a Glossy Ibis continued to feed in the shallows.

White-faced Ibis

The tranquil scene was suddenly a raucous frenzy as American Coots began to squawk and rush about sending of a ripple through the flocks. What could cause such a panic attack? A Bald Eagle quickly arrived overhead looking for breakfast. Yep. That will do it.

Bald Eagle

Back at the nets, Becki, Lynn, and Stacie extract a Gray Catbird for banding.

Gray Catbird

A very intent boy was here doing bird watching and was very excited about the banding station. The wind was keeping birds out of the nets more often than not so when we brought the Catbird to the table he noticed and rushed over with his Dad in tow. We let him release the now banded bird.

Gray Catbird

Think it left an impression?

Gray Catbird

Up on the roadside, Richard dispensed knowledge on migrating birds, native plants, and sold some nest boxes along the way.


Did we mention wind? The gusts were literally throwing birds out of the nets as we watched helplessly. Fortunately, a House Wren kept a tight grip on the net as Andrew got to it. One of the Nature hikes walked by at the same time. The visitors got to the see the extraction and a close-up of the wren before we banded it.

Note the wind blowing the nets in both directions at once! It was a brutal day, wind-wise.


Lynn's turn for a walk and she quickly found a Palm Warbler feeding along the shore of the ponds.

Palm Warbler

Black Skimmers were coming in to rest on a shore not far from the berm roads. Other birds normally seen miles away on the Atlantic beaches like Royal and Foster's Tern joined the Skimmers while Dowitchers fed around them.

Black Skimmers

A Long-tailed Skipper sits on a leaf as the sunlight finally comes out for good.

Long-tailed Skipper

White Pelicans drift by in the ponds. Later in the day, a huge flock of them wheeled overhead.

White Pelican

Purple Gallinule breed here but it is still a thrill to see one out in the open.

Purple Gallinule

More Yellow-rumped Warblers were slowly being captured during the day. A guest who wants to go into Nature Studies gets to release this warbler. Andrew is not attempting to give Becki rabbit ears but is, instead, demonstrating how to begin to hold the bird.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Crowds drift by at times and hopefully we have a bird in hand when they do.


Look who is back to see bird banding in action.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Another youngster gets to release this Yellow-rumped Warbler. One of our recaptured Yellow-rumps was actually banded three years ago at this event. Given the poor conditions, this was an excellent piece of data for the day.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

This Eastern Phoebe was taunting us for the 2nd half of the day. It had no problem getting around the nets and was seen flying directly to them to grab insects before quickly retreating to the bushes.

Eastern Phoebe

The wind gusts were getting strong as the day wore on. Almost time to close up. A group of hikers alerted us to our final warbler of the day.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Jason, a guest of Becki's, got the opportunity to hold the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Off it goes back to the vegetation. Time for us to head out a little early. Little chance of catching more birds in this windy mess.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Despite the high winds we had a pretty good day educating guests and taking in the sites. All we ask for next year is a calm day.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 23th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.