Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Silver Lining and a New Bird

The rain has spared us for most of the week but the temperatures have begun to rise after our excellent cool Sunday last week. We may have gotten a bit more sweaty but it was well worth the time as we had a couple of very special surprises in store for us as we headed out into this new day.

The winds had shifted and were now coming in from the East. A quick recon nearby at Mead Botanical Garden Saturday revealed that bird numbers were down compared to last week. However, we are not out of the peak of migration yet so we were prepared for any promising captures throughout the morning. But, an interesting fact that still holds true: If you have a ton of volunteers and visitors present you probably won't get large numbers of birds in the nets. Just seems to be that way. Today we had 14 people on hand.

Banding Table

Still, we had a nice array of species to keep things interesting. It is time for more Indigo Buntings to arrive but we only captured one female today.

Indigo Bunting

If you have been following along the past couple of weeks, the water has been very high for weeks. We had not been able to get out to several nets for two weeks and still could not reach Net 21 last week. We have been fearing that this spot was a complete loss since it was still 2 feet under water last week.

A quick flashback from a year ago. The river was slowly eroding part of the already narrow bank next to the net. Andrew had tried to fill in a zone where you see the pink tape but it would have taken too much effort so we left it. When we returned to the site for this year's banding the bank was even more compromised. If the flooding ate away at that spot much more then we would have no where to even stand out here.

Net 21

Just after sunrise, Andrew and Christine headed toward the site. The river was now down about 3-4 feet since last week. More trees were falling to the river, their roots now exposed as they tilted into the water. As for Net 21?

Nature decided to fill in the gap envisioned a year ago and even left us with a new beach, clearing out the ground cover! We would have never expected such a silver lining after all the rain and floods. Net 21 is open for business again.

Net 21

This spot is one of our most productive sites through the year as evidenced by a quick capture of a Gray Catbird and two Eastern Phoebes not long after we got the net open. One of the Phoebes was a recapture from almost two years ago.

Eastern Phoebe

Heading to Net 21 was still a bit treacherous due to muck so Andrew began to gather clippings to line the path. On the way back out he saw what appeared to be a Catbird in the shadows surrounding Net 18. Lynn approached and caught the moment that the bird was being finally extracted.

Belted Kingfisher

Not a Catbird. A female Belted Kingfisher! This bird has been on our 'wish list' ever since we set nets here 6 years ago. Every Fall through Spring they cruise the river at full speed, rattling all the way. We had one in a net next to the banding table a few years ago but it escaped before we could reach it in time.

Belted Kingfisher

The entire entourage was asked back to the table for the unveiling and everyone was awestruck to get to see this species up close. If you have ever tried to get close to Kingfishers in the wild you know how difficult it is to get in any pleasing distance. They are very skittish.

We quickly banded the bird and attempted to get a nice pose but she was ready to go. With a little help restraining her wings for a moment we got our shots and she was released back by the river.

Belted Kingfisher

The next trip to cover the muck delivered us a new female Painted Bunting where we caught a juvenile a couple weeks ago.

Painted Bunting

We were catching House Wrens most of the morning and this one was the last of the day as we closed up the nets. Photographed in mid-blink.

House Wren

Angela will be moving away soon but she had an opportunity to band the House Wren and a Common Yellowthroat to wind up a very interesting day.


We didn't even mention our first captures of the day. A Leopard Frog and a Sphinx Moth before any birds. Can't band them, though. Here's hoping next week is just as interesting and that the Indigo Buntings get here in larger numbers.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 19th.
All nets will be opened by 6:55 A.M.

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