Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wrapping Up 2015

We finally had a pretty dry morning ahead of us. Then right at dawn we had a couple of birds hit the nets. It looked to be a day of recaptures and our first bird was a Gray Catbird banded not too long ago.

Gray Catbird

The next bird was more interesting. We first banded this Carolina Wren two and a half years ago as a juvenile. It was captured both times in the same the same time of morning. Guess we know its territory.

Carolina Wren

A few more Myrtle Warblers are moving in but they are staying high in the branches. We had some overcast patches of sky which made for some difficult photography.

Myrtle Warbler

At one point in the morning Lynn was focused on a Downy Woodpecker behind Net 21. Andrew joined in and took nearly a hundred shots of this male which was busily drumming on vines and branches.

Downy Woodpecker

It seldom stayed still so it was amazing that any of the shots turned out at all. We could show you 90 photos that are blurry but maybe you might want to put in a special request.

Downy Woodpecker

The bright red feathers on the head indicate that it is a male Downy Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpecker

Lynn also found a Golden-Silk Spider earlier in the day. A much more accommodating subject.

Golden-Silk Spider

Out near the edge of the lake, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers chased one another and snatched up insects in the Primrose Willow stand.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Over on the marsh side a Swamp Sparrow sneaks up behind an Eastern Phoebe.

Swamp Sparrow

Back in the oaks, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes holes in the bark to lure in bugs for a snack.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The River Otters have been leaving tracks around for the past couple of weeks and today Chris got a shot of one stuffing its face with a tasty snail.

River Otter

Who do we have here? A Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Wearing some fairly new jewelry, too! This bird was probably banded this session and is sticking around for the Winter.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Back at the table, Becki processed another recaptured Gray Catbird. For some reason it decided to stay in her hand for a while before heading back into the woods.

Gray Catbird

Our last bird of the morning turned out to be the Bird-of-the-Day. A Blue-headed Vireo. We have been hearing and seeing a few lately but they are not often captured. A great end to the morning.

Blue-headed Vireo

We will not be banding next Sunday since everyone will be scattered about for the Christmas weekend making this our last banding day of 2015. So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! Here is to a wonderful 2016 full of birds and Nature for all! Festivals are not too far away and then the Spring migration. Hope to see some of you soon.

NOTE: We will also not be banding next Sunday, January 3rd, due to a forecast of all-day rain.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, January 10th.
All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Wind, Wet, Wildlife

We arrived dark and early, as usual, and found a bit more moisture still around and wind was in the forecast by 10 AM. Still, we managed a few good finds throughout the morning.

Two Northern Cardinals were captured just before dawn. The first was a recapture that we first banded 3 1/2 years ago on the opposite side of the river on Earth Day. Still going strong.

Northern Cardinal

A couple of new juvenile Gray Catbirds were netted, as well.

Gray Catbird

We now hear more House Wrens than we are catching but we will take what we can get.

House Wren

The extra moisture did one fun thing as the Sun rose higher. It settled in all of the Bowl and Doily Spider web and gave them a nice glow.

Bowl and Doily Spider

Once the light was up a bit more we could tell the wind was not too far behind as large clouds quickly scuttled past.


Dotted Smartweed is popping up in camps as we near the mouth of the river.

Dotted Smartweed

Double-crested Cormorants are seen out on the lake or flying in from time to time but they are seldom seen resting on the sand bar.

Double-crested Cormorant

Leaves were still cloaked in water even as the wind began to pick up.


You could hardly tell the breeze was increasing as we took a look at the Window on the Lake where the water was calm for a little longer.

Window on the Lake

A funny thing happens when you stand very still by the lake. Birds begin to fly in right next to you. This Little Blue Heron landed just a few feet from Andrew.

Little-blue Heron

While he was studying the bird he noticed something in one of the nearby branches. A Ladybug!


A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher also flew in while feeding through the Willow branches. It got so close it could even be photographed in focus before flying off.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Lynn spotted a Limpkin perched in one Willlow over Net 21. The pair were chasing each other all over the priority all morning.


Christine found what we are deciding is a Three-spotted Skipper, also by Net 21. Skippers are increasing in number up and down the river side.

Three-spotted Skipper

An Argiope stayed on patrol in the surrounding vegetation...


...while a Caterpillar searched around a twig.


This bug looks a lot like a Box Elder bug but we have never seen one this bright red. Maybe a related species we have located yet?


Back an the table, we captured a new Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush

Lynn got a better shot of the tan edging on the feather indicating it is a young bird.

Hermit Thrush

We also caught our 2nd Eastern Palm Warbler of the season. Still waiting on the Yellow-rumps.

Eastern Palm Warbler

Finally, a recaptured Carolina Wren was processed and released just before we ended the day.

Carolina Wren

A nice collection of finds all around today. Next week is forecast to be much cooler and a lot of us will be volunteering with various Christmas Bird Counts across the state. Happy birding to all!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 20th.
All nets will be opened by 6:45 A.M.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Two Firsts of the Season

Higher wind than usual today. We figured that we wouldn't catch too many birds but we did have a couple of surprises along the way. We even had two new bird species for the season. More on that later, but our Gray Catbirds were up before dawn with two of them in the brighting morning.

Gray Catbird

Down at Net 14, a Hermit Thrush was comfortably resting in a net panel.

Hermit Thrush

On the next run, Andrew found Richard extracting our first Eastern Phoebe of the season. They have been very vocal and visible and often have been seen perching on the net poles lately so it was nice to actually catch one.

Eastern Phoebe

A Great Egret flew to the sandbar across from the peir out at the lake and it was soon reproached by a Limpkin. Rangers say the Limpkins are preparing to nest nearby so probably a bit if a territory dispute brought them together.

Limpkin and Great Egret

Just across from the sandbar, a small flock of American Goldfinches dropped in to feed in the Primrose Willow.

American Goldfinch

Heading back to the nets away from the lake, a Western Palm Warbler teased us just across the river.

Western Palm Warbler

Becki and Killian brought in the Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the day, also in Net 21 by the lake.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A male Pileated Woodpecker flew to the snag next to the banding table in search of food before flying off again.

Pileated Woodpecker

Most of the birds seen today were flying far overhead. Robins, ducks, and warblers were definitely on the move through the area but most failed to drop lower to Earth. At one point a flock of American Crows paused long enough to call loudly from the treetops near the table.

American Crow

As Andrew cleared a stand of Primrose Willow next to Net 21, a female Painted Bunting was trapped next to the river. This is our first of the season for this species and it has been quiet a while since we have captured one.

Painted Bunting

So, not as disappointing as was anticipated but we would like to see more Yellow-rumps in the area. We did hear a couple of Cedar Waxwings fly past so maybe we can up the totals for next week. Less wind would certainly help us out.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 13th.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Slow But Steady

It was another oddly quiet day today with long periods of no bird or insect sound and pop-up sprinkles from before dawn to mid-morning. They did bring on the occasional rainbow, though.


Just after dawn, Phyllis noticed and photographed a Wood Stork above the river.

Wood Stork

Our first bird captured was a juvenile Gray Catbird. Two others escaped on approach shortly afterward. Grrrr...

Gray Catbird

Two weeks ago, one of the poles at Net 16 was bent over by a mower. We were shorthanded last week so we replaced it today. Good thing, too. Not much later we caught two birds in that spot. As the net was being reset, Phyllis noticed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in a tree next to the net. Twenty minutes later the bird was in the net. Last week we had two males and this was a female.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Just two feet below the Kinglet was an adult Carolina Wren. Thought we had banded all of them in the area but this one was unbanded. At least for a few more minutes.

Carolina Wren

Lynn did her usual critter sleuthing and found an Arrowhead Orb Weaver Verrucosa arenata) in the dark.

Arrowhead Orb Weaver

She also photographed a butterfly, most likely a Barred Yellow Sulphur.


When the birds were feeding Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were easy to spot up and down the river.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

The other common species seen was the Western Palm Warblers. This bird isn't in the best focus but we had no problem seeing it was one we had recently banded.

Western Palm Warbler

On the edge of the lake another bird popped up from the vegetation. Even with the head hidden from view, you can make out the markings of a Northern Parula. They breed here but we don't see many in the Fall/Winter seasons.

Northern Parula

A bit of drama was unfolding back at the table. While getting some trash collected, a Huntsman Spider carrying an egg sack dashed out of a hiding place. Though Christine has major arachnophobia she still managed to get a photo before quickly moving as far away as possible.

Huntsman Spider

Two more birds were netted near the table. Another Western Palm Warbler was added to the tally for the season.

Western Palm Warbler

In the same net was a version of Palm Warbler we don't see that often in this habitat. An Eastern Palm Warbler. They are easy to pick out from the Westerns as they have a load more yellow in their plumage.

Eastern Palm Warbler

Despite the quiet stretches it was not a completely bad day. Heck, any day out in the open air is a good one, yes?
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, December 6th.
All nets will be opened by 6:35 A.M.