The strongest cold front of the season cleared Florida overnight and allowed birds to get down our way. Finally! Temps were around 60 degrees and the air was dry. You would think it was Winter by the way most of the volunteers were bundled up. No sweat for once and the mosquitoes were almost non-existant. Perfect day.
Just at sunrise, Andrew headed to the the end of the lanes and saw a bird in Net 9. In the dim light at a distance it appeared to be a Brown Thrasher. Once he got a close look, however, it turned out to be the Bird-of-the-Day. Our first-ever Wood Thrush captured at Lake Lotus!
We used to catch a couple of these at Wekiwa Springs back in the day but never at Lake Lotus. Lynn's photo with a colored background really shows off how beautiful these birds are.
When walking back to the table, Christine claimed she had the BOTD herself. We rarely have a close contest. Her bird would win second place, though. Our second Yellow-bellied Flycatcher banded here.
We got a few more Gray Catbirds during the morning and a couple of Common Yellowthroats.
A lot of Balsam Apple (Momordica charantia) vines are growing by Net 14. Never knew the Northern Cardinals ate the seeds.
Various fungi have been springing up after all of the rain. Most are brown but there are also different colors scattered around the woods.
Lynn also spotted one of our American Alligators lurking up river near the banding table.
Also near the banding table, in Net 2, we captured our first Swainson's Thrush of the season. We expect them this time of year and Hermit Thrushes should soon follow.
We recaptured a couple of resident Carolina Wrens through the morning.
Although we see them all the time, they are still a beautiful bird to behold.
Three White-eyed Vireos were caught, including one we banded in September. Still hanging around and has shed some fat.
Last week we had two Brown Thrashers escape as we approached them in the nets. Today we managed to get one before it could elude us. Thrashers are larger and more able to wriggle free from the fine mesh.
Our captured Northern Cardinals included one new bird and one recapture.
The new bird was molting into its more adult feathers.
Lynn found a very interesting moth on the vegetation half-way through the morning. Turns out to be a Red-Waisted Florella Moth Syngamia florella, also called an Orange Spotted Flower Moth.
Our second House Wren of the season was brought in by Charles. Both have been juveniles.
The first Black-throated Blue Warbler of the season was a female brought in from just above the banding table.
We have been very curious to check out the status of Net 21. Since the river breached the end on the trail heading to the lake, we have been unable to get out that far and this net spot has been out of commission for 3 weeks. This is one of our most productive nets and it would be a shame if we can no longer set up there. The highest portion of the trail eroded away. We placed a palette across the one spot that used to flood. It now sits a foot under water.
Now that the water has dropped a bit, we could jump the first breach and got to the second small bridge we made. It is also a foot under water and the river is now flowing up the path we used to use to get to the net poles. Through binoculars, we can spot the poles and they are still there but also partially under water. We will have to wait for further drying to see if we have any ground to use in the future.
We ended the day and caught a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher as we were folding the nets for the day. They are all over right now but difficult to catch. They either stay high in the trees but can also see the nets easier. We have often witnessed them fly full-speed toward a net, stop, and hover in front and then go over!
If the weather stays nice and the radar shows good bird movement we may band both days next week. However, things can change at anytime so we are just planning Sunday for now.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, October 12th.
All nets will be opened by 6:55 A.M.