We can't imagine the sight of the highest water level a few days ago. According to the rangers, Lake Lotus had 7 1/2 inches of rain in less than 30 hours from Tuesday and into Wednesday. Add to that all of the water that comes down stream from south Orlando and you get a huge amount of water into the Little Wekvia River before it heads North to Wekiwa Springs and beyond. We were told that the water got as high as the river trail just across from the banding area and there was extensive flooding around the park. Water has not dropped too much yet even on this Sunday after the rain event.
More on the flooding in a moment but we did start catching birds just before dawn. First up was an adult female Northern Cardinal recapture.
Close by, another recap was brought in. Turned out to be an adult Carolina Wren. We also had a Gray Catbird and another Northern Cardinal (this time a male) before we turned our attention toward the swollen river and how much damage was done to the net lanes closer to the lake.
Along the way we noticed that the holly trees are being adorned with red berries. Maybe we can entice a few Cedar Waxwings down this year.
While setting nets before dawn we got a little idea what to expect on parts of the property. Now that the light was stronger we could see the dock used by school kids when they visit was wrenched from its normal spot. Either a large limb hit it or just the shear force of water knocked it sideways.
On a side note, who says Florida doesn't have Fall color? When the Cypress trees drop all of their needles it can actually be kind of pretty.
The water has come down quite a bit but we could see the evidence of how high it was. Muck covered the grass between Net 13 and down to Net 10. The vegetation was still pointed in the direction of the flow showing it was probably a couple feet deep even on this higher side of the river. The neighbor's pond across the property line was still flooded and backed up onto Lake Lotus property.
Two weeks ago we placed new palettes as bridges across a few low spots. The river easily breached the banks there again and were still flowing hard.
And our bridges? 30 yards out in the marsh.
The next pass to Net 21 was flowing freely again just like in September.
All we could do was take a look across the water and see the poles for Net 21 soaking in the river. The last flood left us with a new beach over there. Did that increase or get washed away? Time will tell.
Heading back up the lanes we noticed our random native Coffee plant had set some fruit. Birds love this stuff.
High above our heads, a Black and White Warbler was quickly foraging for bugs in the maples.
A smaller shape was spotted a little higher. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We usually start catching them by now but they have stayed in the tree tops this season.
The rangers have another dock farther up the river which is on higher ground. It survived this round of flooding. In a couple areas some trees have fallen from the eroding banks and are busy collecting trash among their branches.
We wrapped up the morning and had a Hermit Thrush waiting for us in Net 2 by the banding table. Thrushes have been very scarce this year even at other banding spots in the state.
On the way home, Andrew stopped to look for Hooded Mergansers in Maitland Center. There were a few mingling with the Mallards but mostly stayed in the shadows. Every now and then one or two would drift out into the sunshine.
Male Hooded Mergansers are the showy ones but the females are still attractive. In the light you can make out all of the subtle color changes they wear.
Maybe the rain will hold off for us and we can get back out to the end of the lanes next week and assess the new river channel formed by the new sediment.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 7th.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.