Sunday, August 17, 2014

Slow With Early Migrants

Our third week of the new Session was again like being back in a sauna before dawn while setting nets. Bugs are buzzing most of the morning but it is always nice to watch the sunrise out in the woods. The Guinea Grass is making a strong comeback (as expected) even after the city knocked it back last year.


The morning dew clung to everything including our shoes.

Morning Dew

The morning began well with a couple of recaptures including a Northern Cardinal and a Carolina Wren. A bit later we captured a new Wren molting into its new adult plumage.

Carolina Wren

Then the quiet. Nice having Lynn and Ike back to capture some wildlife around the area. As others walked the lanes and did a bit of weeding, Lynn found a bunch of interesting finds. This time of year we find a ton of spiders along the lanes and often walk into the webs while getting set up. One of the species that weaves the biggest webs are the Common Orb Spiders (Neoscona crucifera). Love the way it appears that it is making contrails in the dark.

Common Orb Spider

Nearby, an Ichneumon Wasp hunts in the weeds.

Ichneumon Wasp

Another favorite spider, especially after we learned how to pronounce it, is the Black and Yellow Argiope (Ar-Gee-Oh-Pee) wrapping breakfast for the morning.


A much smaller spider was a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia). These spiders can range from yellow to white and are found throughout the Eastern United States.

Goldenrod Crab Spider

This caterpillar was new to us. Turns out to be a moth caterpillar known as an Oblique Heterocampa (Heterocampa obliqua). It feeds on the oaks that are prevalent in our area.

Oblique Heterocampa

Mourning Doves are around in greater numbers lately. Seems they have avoided the hawks for a while. We occasionally capture a dove or two during the seasons but they are harder to stay put in the nets we use for smaller birds.

Mourning Dove

Back near Net 2, Lynn found a patch of Sensitive Briar (Mimosa nuttallii). This native plant tends to be a ground cover and is a member of the Mimosa family.

Sensitive Briar

During our first year at this location we noticed a strange pinwheel near the original banding table. We had to track down the ID and finally discovered that they were the seeds of the Leather Flower (Clematis reticulata). They have very interesting, purple down-hanging flowers that transform into these bizarre seed heads.

Leather Flower

We caught our first migrant about midway through the morning. A Northern Waterthrush. Records show that we usually start capturing them by the end of August so it was nice to have one a week early.

Northern Waterthrush

Larger Dragonflies are all over the riverside, including River Cruisers and Saddlesbags.


If you are in the area and spot a small tangle of twigs hanging from a branch or doorway, it is probably a Bagworm Moth (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis). These interesting caterpillars carry their cocoons along with them until they are ready to mate and emerge as moths later on.

Bagworm Moth

Of course, we were all curious to see how the Air Potato Leaf Beetles were doing in the week since we were gone. Seems they are doing quite well! Air Potato vines that were healthy last week are being consumed at a rapid rate more and more. We find the adults and larva in greater numbers up and down the net lanes.

Air Potato Leaf Beetle

Air Potato Leaf Beetle adults are pairing up and Charles even found newly laid eggs on one leaf. Scanning the opposite side of the river, we also see signs that they are spreading back there, too. Go beetles!.

Air Potato Leaf Beetle

As we were getting nets folded up for the day we caught yet another migrant. An immature male Black and White Warbler.

Black and White Warbler

A nice end to the day and things will just get more intense from here. Just wish we could get rid of this humidity...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 24th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.

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