Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Few Chilly Migrants

Spring migration is underway and with bird reports from the day before we were hoping to get busy. There were a lot of birds around but mostly in the treetops. Our fist bird of the day was an adult Carolina Wren with a brood patch. Should be seeing baby Wrens soon.

Carolina Wren

A male Northern Cardinal, first banded last August, made up for one that escaped earlier in the morning.

Northern Cardinal

Flowers are popping up all over the banding site.

Flower

Trumpet Vine blooms are making a showy display closer to the lake.

Trumpet Vine

Meet Aidrian, our latest named American Alligator to hang out in the river. This is only a 4-5 footer. Later in the morning Pat was seen heading to the usual resting spot near the banding table.

American Alligator

Limpkin have been calling like crazy lately. Should be seeing baby Limpkin, too.

Limpkin

Maples are putting on a good show even without blossoms.

Maple

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are harder to find and they are busy feeding instead of calling in advance of their return back North.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Bob came up the trail to let us know an Ovenbird was down in Net 17. Another migrant species that will be gone from our area soon.

Ovenbird

The Swallow-tailed Kites were actually up and flying before dawn and soared over head all morning.

Swallow-tailed Kite

We don't see many gulls here so this pair passing over made us stop for a few seconds.

Gulls

Susan swears she heard the raspy call of a baby Barred Owl first thing but we only saw one of the adults in its roost spot.

Barred Owl

The Limpkin that was out at the lake decided to head up river in search of shelled snacks. It was finding them easily in the soft sand.

Limpkin

Our Bird-of-the-Day was a male Red-winged Blackbird that has its territory over Net 21. After flying past the net for hours it finally took a turn into it. We have not caught one of these guys in a couple years even through they chase one another all Spring.

Red-winged Blackbird

Should start getting a little busier anytime. A nice tune-up before Earth Day next month.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 5th.
All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

More Weird Than Productive

Andrew, here, going into host narrative today because it was kind of weird. First off, I knew we would have to reset a bunch of poles after the rangers took some out so that a tree service could rumble down the net lanes to pull a large tree out of the river (more on that later) but when I got on site I discovered that they had removed more poles than was really necessary. In fact, I could only set half the nets before sunrise. Also, as I was arriving at the site it dawned on me that I had forgotten our data book. First time ever. Had to run back home before we could continue.

On the way back to Lotus a car was heading on the Eastbound ramp off of I-4 as I headed to the Westbound lane. I saw a Crow heading to the right. The bird hit the front of the car and was bounced 100 feet in the air and landed in the median between the off-ramps. Been a long time since I have seen a bird hit by a car. Two other crows immediately flew down to examine their fellow flock mate, now dead, on its back on the road. See? Weird.

I got back to the table and heard the banging of hammers meaning the crew had taken it upon themselves to start reseting poles. For some reason I decided to check Net 2 and found a Northern Cardinal in the net. I processed the bird alone and checked and found it was first banded here 3 years ago.

Northern Cardinal

I released the bird and paused for a sip of water and looked ahead of me. There, in the one shaft of morning sunlight, a Swallow-tailed Kite was preening on a snag directly across from me. A nice change of pace from the early oddness of the day. Later, we would find a pair of Kites on another snag and then saw several flying around last year's nest. Hope they choose it again.

Swallow-tailed Kite

We reset Net 20 but did not put it up all the way again since the Barred Owls are perched a few feet away. Will we see new fledges soon?

Barred Owl

Becki was ahead of the rest of the volunteers and took the Gray Catbird I got out of Net 4 and the Cardinal she found at Net 21 back for recording.

Gray Catbird

Next to the table we found an Eastern Tent Caterpillar and they were all over the place today.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

We have been wondering why nothing is eating the berries from the Yaupon Holly trees. No Cedar Waxwings around much this season may be a reason. The trees don't seem to care as they are still full of berries and now are blooming like crazy.

Yaupon Holly

Avery and his Dad were back with us (Thanks, again for the help, Augustine!) and Avery and I explored the field of Spider Worts by Net 19. A large number of Honey Bees were busy working the blooms.

Honey Be

We spotted a tiny damselfly among the bees and got some photos. Later, we determined that it was a Citrine Forktail, (Ischnura hastata), the smallest of damselflies in North America.

Citrine Forktail

Back to the tree. Apparently they broke down on entry last week but made it through this past Wednesday. Seems the public works folk though the tree was blocking the flow of the river. It was not but... So, they pulled the trunk back to our side. OK.

River Tree

Growing on the edge of the trunk is a spot of Slime mold. Can't miss that bright yellow as you walk past it.

Slime mold

Just across the way, I couldn't help but marvel at the large Cypress that sits among others along the river.

Cypress

I am still trying to get a definitive shot of the Little Wekiva but I do like this one as I see it every week.

Little Wekiva

There is a lot of new growth in the area and by Net 21 the minty flowers are spreading all around. If you walk through them you can almost immediately smell scents of mint. Thanks to our friend Mary Keim, we know that it is called Browne's Savory (Micromeria Brownei, aka Clinopodium Brownei) [klin-oh-POH-dee-um brown-ee-eye].

Minty

A new collection of Swamp Dock is springing up along the river. First they were just shooting up leaves but now they are blooming all over.

Swamp Dock

The last sighting of the morning was a collection of larva feeding on some plants. Probably Ladybugs.

Larva

We are a couple of weeks from Spring Migration so we are hoping for increasing numbers. We will also be working at the Earth Day event in late April. Bring on the returning birds and keep the weirdness away for a while, please.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 29th.
All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Few Birds to Band but the Company Was Nice

We were expecting guests from a banding site in France hoping to see some of our local birds on their visit so we were up and ready for anything that might find the nets even though this is the transition period for Wintering birds getting ready for the spring migration. We had to remove some net poles in case the tree removal happened so Andrew headed out Saturday to re-install them prior to Sunday's usual banding. Unfortunately, the truck that was to remove the tree broke down. Right as it was getting ready to enter the banding site.

Still, we had to prepare for Sunday. As Andrew was removing the tarp at the table, a Carolina Wren bolted from below and sat on a nearby perch and began to call. Maybe he is setting up house where they did last year. In a watering pot below the table.

Carolina Wren

Heading toward the lake, a Bald Eagle circled overhead.

Bald Eagle

While trying to check the lake further, Andrew happened on a couple of Cuban Anoles facing of for a territorial showdown. The younger lizard was to the left..

Cuban Anole

Meanwhile, the older Cuban Anole claimed the branch to the right. They often have a more pronounced crest.

Cuban Anole

One the way out of the property, an American Alligator climbed out to sun on the opposite side of Net 13. Probably Pat.

American Alligator

The next morning we began our net checks and a familiar Spring sound was heard. A male Common Yellowthroat was chipping after being snared in Net 13. We had almost forgotten that now is the time to start seeing migrating Yellowthroats.

Common Yellowthroat

Fortunately, our guests were arriving and they got to see the bird being banded. Gill and Fran├žois were allowed to release the bird.

Guests

As this bird was being banded, Bill, who had heard about us through our day at Birdapalooza, arrived. This was also a Life Bird for him and we all toured the site throughout the morning.

Guests

Soon, we captured a House Wren. This was definitely the same bird we captured last week and released at the net as it was very tangled and we did not band it them to ensure its safety. Seems that this is its Winter home for now and can now show off a new piece of jewelry.

House Wren

Our final catch of the day was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. As mentioned before, we cannot legally band Ruby-throated Hummingbirds so we got a shot and released it back into the same are. They hang around the blooming trees here from time to time and it is a joy to hold one for a brief moment.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Spring migration is about to gear up and we are looking forward to getting more finds along the way. The other notable bird of the day was a Louisiana Waterthrush that was prowling the river most of the morning as we all got great looks at it but were unable to coax it into a net or get a photo. Perhaps next Sunday.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 22nd.
All nets will be opened by 7:00 A.M.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Clear Skies and Fewer Birds

The Moon was just past full but could not light the way completely as nets were set this morning. It was still beautiful to view 15 minutes before official sunrise.

TK

While the dawn chorus was quite active, it took us awhile to catch our first bird, a Gray Catbird, around 8 AM. This was a new bird for the season.

Gray Catbird

A recaptured Hermit Thrush came in form the end of the net lanes soon afterwards. We first banded this bird last November.

Hermit Thrush

Once the Sun was up a bit in the sky the winds increased steadily form the direction of the lake and birds in the area were mainly feeding high in the trees. Wild Radish are blooming in their typical spots along the paths.

Wild Radish

Fresh stalks of Cattails are reaching form the marshy ground at the mouth of the river.

Cattail

Lake Lotus was soon rippled by the winds that made their way up river and billowed the nets more and more as the morning wore on. At least most of the leaves have fallen so we weren't picking them out of nets constantly.

Lake Lotus

Willow have past and left only fluff and seed to spread through the air with the breeze.

Willow

Barred Owls were calling well before dawn today and right by the nest tree. Once the male found his resting spot he ignored us completely.

Barred Owl

Richard and Christine checked the nest boxes and found, naturally, a Flying Squirrel family in one.

Flying Squirrel

Ranger Frank came over and urgently wanted to talk to us about something. Seems Public Works doesn't like a tree that fell quite some time ago as they fear it is blocking the flow of the river. Actually, it is just making a bridge across the river as the water here is over 10 feet deep in this spot. Still they plan to right the stump next week so Frank warned us so we could move some poles aside just in case they are not too careful while they bring in trucks. We will have the 'after' picture next week.

Tree

We later recaptured a Gray Catbird banded last Fall and a House Wren but our day was over thanks to the wind and the time it would take for us to remove poles.

Gray Catbird

Birds are making a turn back North now. If the weather is right we should start catching returning migrants.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 15th.
All nets will be opened by 7:05 A.M.