We were pleased to be asked back to give bird banding demonstrations at the 2nd Annual Lake Apopka Wildlife and Birdapalooza Festival. We had a great time last year and hoped to deliver more information to visitors again and looked forward to get more birds banded in the local area just outside of our usual Lake Lotus duties.
We had to do a bit more clearing of vegetation during the net setup than last year but we were up and running by 8:30 AM. Things were pretty quiet but Andrew heard and managed to pish in a Carolina Wren to make it our first bird of the day.
Rising breezes gave us concerns. When the first group of hikers stopped by we had no birds to show them but they were all over the treetops. It seemed like every Yellow-rumped Warbler in the state were overhead but not flying low. However, once the first group headed out the feeding flock moved down the net lane and quickly gave us 7 warblers to band.
Without our regular lines to hang bags on, Susan stood by to hand them off to Andrew, one by one, to be processed.
Fortunately, this happened as the next group, the children's hike, stopped by so we got to dispense a lot of good information.
We always try to have one of the visiting kids release one of the birds and this girl was thrilled to hold and release a bird back into the wild.
The winds quickly increased after the fog burned off and kept the warblers high above us. It was amazing how many birds were feeding overhead all day long. A lot of the lower concentrations of lower birds were flying into the heavily blooming Cherry Laurels nearby.
We tried to get shots of birds in the trees but they were darting in and out very quickly. If you stood long enough you might get a glimpse, however briefly.
The remainder of our midday was spent watching nets blowing in the wind. We did have a fellow bander from Massachusetts stop for a nice chat. As we showed them the net lane we had a male Northern Cardinal fly right over a net. His partner flew lower and we got to capture, band and release her soon afterwards.
Things remained quiet for a while. Andrew wandered out through the brush to take a look out on Lake Apopka. Nothing there except a small American Alligator enjoying the view and warming in the morning light.
We can still give folks information even when we have no birds in hand and after hearing about banding we also have information about nest boxes that Richard builds.
In fact, we soon discovered a nest box mounted on a tree in the area that Richard and Christine helped local students make and distribute in the local area. Christine and Tanka pose below the box near the lake.
As the day headed to a close we contemplated closing a bit early. The birds decided we were not done yet. Suddenly, we began catching birds in bigger numbers. Luckily, other visitors began to stop by and see the banding process. Another young man got to release one of our new warblers after banding.
His Dad was next as we had many Yellow-rumped Warblers on hand.
We caught another new female Northern Cardinal in that stretch.
A little extra yellow was added to the day as we captured an adult male Common Yellowthroat.
A House Wren was brought in next.
Another new species was added to the mix as we netted an Eastern Phoebe which we were not even hearing around today.
Wrapping up the day, we had another family stop by as we banded our 14th Yellow-rumped Warbler of the day. We nearly doubled last year's captures here and if not for the winds we would have had many more for our totals. The smile on a child's face makes up for any disappointments we might have had about the weather.
The birds kept us there until the end, thankfully. We gathered gear and headed out to regroup for the next banding day back 'home' at Lake Lotus. Andrew stopped by Lust Road a couple miles away but could only find a single Western Kingbird and a few Palm Warblers to round out the day.
Will will skip tomorrow at Lotus and get things reset for the following Sunday and can't wait for the 3rd Annual event next March.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 9th.
All nets will be opened by 7:15 A.M.