Another week and another special bird captured at the banding site. We will get to that before we leave you, but first, we actually started the morning with a surprise as Charles rejoined us and soon had an Indigo Bunting in his grasp.
Several Northern Cardinals were captured today, including a new male and a few recaptures.
Down in the growth near Net 4, Christine discovered a spider. Though the photos were not that great, we could determine that it was a Silver-backed Argiope (AR-GEE-OH-PEE). Typically we find larger Black and Yellow Argiopes along the lanes.
The water has risen after last week's rains making the marsh wetter than before but several attempts to get out near the lake were made during the morning. The ever-present Limpkins made an appearance as the sunlight broke through the clouds.
Our male Swallow-tailed Kite suddenly soared in from behind the trees and we watched as it circled and dipped. The thought was that it was feeding on air-bourne prey along the edge of the lake.
That may have been the case but this shot also shows another clue. The trailing blur behind this bird is moss being gathered, most likely for the nest behind the banding table.
We almost missed someone hiding in the cattails. A Green Treefrog was huddled up tight by the mouth of the river.
Then a call came in. The next Bird-of-the-Year was being kept at the table for banding. Last week we had our first-ever Hooded Warbler. Today, it was our first-ever Worm-eating Warbler! Two new species in one Spring.
In its usual spot, one of the Barred Owls rested across from Net 20.
Richard got to process one of our Gray Catbirds for the day .
Soon, the male Swallow-tailed Kite flew in from its gathering and headed past us. We made sure to follow its flight and saw it land on the spot where we suspected the nest to be. We did finally manage to pick it out through the swaying pines and could see it placing the moss in the nest. Andrew plotted a course and tried to find the nest tree, a difficult task as the way through the woods is tangled in briar and grape vines.
Back at the table, the gang kept a watch on the nest as much as they could.
Three attempts later, success! The tree was found!! High above was the Swallow-tailed Kite nest made mostly of Spanish Moss.
It was hard to get any good angles on the nest from the woods. Leaves are now filling in the canopy and it made no difference which direction you move that can provide any good views of the spot. Not from the entry lane or from our parking area. It is placed directly in a non-photogenic place. Good for them.
However, you can see the female on the nest if you look carefully enough.
Here is an outline of the tail and wing feathers just to point it out. Richard found out some info on nesting for the Swallow-tailed Kite. "Mating occurs from March to May, with the female laying 2 to 4 eggs. Incubation lasts 28 days, and 36 to 42 days to fledge." Which means it may be until the first week of June before we can see any young. Just when we are closing down for the hot months.
Winds were on the rise and birds were quiet so we headed home. Along the way, as we gathered nets, Andrew and Becki discovered one of the Red-shouldered Hawks scanning the marsh edge near Net 18. Their chicks are hatched and should be fledged soon.
As we neared the gate on the way out, Becki spotted a caterpillar racing across the path. We are still trying to nail down the species but one thing is sure. It can really move!
Next week is Earth Day and now that Ranger Cindy has left we will not have an event in the park this year. We will carry on at our usual spot and hope to get some interesting migrants as they continue to move through.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 20th.
All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.