We had no Earth Day celebration at Lake Lotus last year but it was brought back by the city of Altamonte Springs this year. We arrived at 6:30 A.M. and began setting nets. Before we were done with all 7 nets we had a female Cardinal in the very first one near the banding table. The weather was forecast for rain and wind most of the day. We got lucky on the rain side but it was gusting pretty strong from start to finish.
The event began later this year. 10 A.M. is getting close to the time we go home on our usual banding days and we caught most of our birds before the general public was let in. Besides a group on a reserved morning hike, few others got to see the sunrise out on the pier.
There was not a lot of bird action the previous day as Andrew hauled gear across the river so it was nice to see that Phyllis had a migrant Ovenbird out next to the river.
Back out on the pier, one of the resident Limpkin flew up to the railing to survey the humans that got early today.
Down in the lake a Great Blue Heron strode through the shallow water.
The wind grew stronger as the hours continued on. This Vicroy spent several minutes struggling against it until it finally was able to find purchase and rest out of the gusts for a while.
At the mouth of the river, a Tricolored Heron was busy finding breakfast up against the shoreline.
Meanwhile, another Limpkin pried a shelled snack from the sand.
We caught a number of dragonflies today including this interesting one we identified as a Blackwater Clubtail.
Susan discovered a Caterpillar on the edge of the boardwalk. Unfortunately, it was an ex-caterpillar now that the eggs of a parasitic wasp that were laid upon it have apparently hatched.
Becky brought in a feisty male Northern Cardinal. Probably the mate of the female we captured earlier.
Avery was busy finding insects near the banding table and beyond. One of the dragonflies around today was this Great Blue Skimmer.
He then found a small skipper.
Later, Andrew also found what appears to be the same species but located in another part of the property. We decided that they were Ocola Skippers.
Along the banks of the river we found some Twin Flower trying to hide beneath some other foliage. The ant had no trouble finding it.
Out along the boardwalk near the Window on the Lake the Buttonbush plants are in full bloom and attracting a large variety of insects like this green fly.
Higher up, a Monarch probes across every bit of surface methodically.
Deeper in the woods a Common Yellowthroat worked his way toward the lake.
The Poison Ivy is looking mighty healthy right now and the berries, once ripe, will be a treat for the birds in the area.
In a very shady part of the boardwalk we had been hearing Carolina Wrens all morning. We finally had a chance to watch a couple of them as they foraged and photos confirmed that these are some of the birds we have banded in the past, perhaps during a previous Earth Day demonstration.
A woman came by to ask if Richard and Christine had any bat houses among their nest boxes but they did not. There was a bat house near one of our nets and somehow no one seemed to have discovered that a skeletonize bat was clinging to the structure. Odd.
We had a pair of American Alligator sightings today. Adrian was close by but we didn't have our cameras with us at the time. Later, Pat was found basking farther up the Little Wekiva below where the banding table is on the opposite side.
Near the pathway where we had the majority of our nets set we noticed some Blue-eyed Grass in bloom. Pretty little flower.
Soon, we noticed a couple of other blooms nearby. They had the structure of Blue-eyed Grass but some were white...
...while others were yellow. Yellow Blue-eyed Grass?
Next to the banding table, a Red-bellied Woodpecker would sneak through the woods and peer out every now and then before leaping for a ripe blackberry growing along the edge of the grassy expanse next to the roadside.
Lynn found a lovely white caterpillar munching away on a leaf.
The only bird we captured during the actual Earth Day schedule was brought to the table. Fortunately there were a lot of folks around to witness our prize.
It was a Northern Parula. It already had a band on it.
Turns out we banded this bird nearly two years ago on the opposite side of the river. It was captured in Net 10 which is basically directly across from where we netted it today.
We always try to allow someone from the crowd to release our banded birds. It is a thrill for people of every age. Most birds take off quickly once it has a chance. This Northern Parula was no exception. Now you see it in the hand...
...and in a split second it is a blur and back into the trees.
While we didn't get as many birds as we had hoped it was Earth Day we were observing so at least we found enough Nature in other areas to make it a fun day. The rain hit as we were taking down the last net so the timing was perfect. Here's hoping for a day of nicer weather next year.
Thanks go to everyone who showed up and helped today. Not yet mentioned, Alease, Augustine, and Ike. Can't do these things without the volunteers!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 3rd.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.