Sunday, May 17, 2015

Session 7 Ends

It was a fairly quiet end to Session 7 today. We call our full banding time Sessions which begin on the first Sunday in August (when the earliest of migrants return to Central Florida) through May. We then take June and July off to let the local nesting families raise their young while we avoid the worst of the heat. We will post a couple of more times before the start of Session 8 when we stop by to do some maintenance in July.

Not a lot of birds out and about today but we had a few nice encounters. For example, the Barred Owl chicks were heard well before sunrise just across from Net 15, close to the banding table. Usually, they have been in the middle of the net lanes before heading into the forest by dawn.

Just after we got the rest of the nets set Susan reported that the owls were right at the banding table giving their raspy calls. Luckily, the flash was working this morning.

Barred Owl

The young Barred Owls have always been gone from our area before daylight and this marks the first photos we have of this year's brood.

Barred Owl

Mama arrived with a meal shortly and the babies followed her to the opposite side of the river before the first rays of the Sun emerged.

Barred Owl

Our first capture of the day was a Carolina Wren we first banded as a juvenile two years ago. It now has a brood patch telling us it is nesting nearby.

Unfortunately, Andrew's old point and shoot is out of commission so we had to rely on camera phones at the table. Either we are not very skilled with these new gadgets or they are just not up to the task of our photographic needs. Perhaps by next August we will have it all figured out.

Carolina Wren

Next up, Charles brought in a male Red-headed Woodpecker was caught near the table in almost the same spot we caught it at the end of last year's Session. That day we caught and banded the male and female pair at the same time.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

As Andrew headed down to the lake, Becki and Corey were returning with a recaptured Northern Parula.

Northern Parula

Not much bird activity out by the lake. We could hear Limpkins from time to time while the Red-winged Blackbirds defended territory and the resident Tricolored Heron did fly in for a visit.

Tricolored Heron

The only thing really flying about were the various Dragonflies who periodically stop for a rest.


The number of species is really growing week by week.


For most of the morning we had been stepping over a patch of purple flowers down by Net 21. Finally, curiosity got the better of Christine and Ranger Frank identified the plant as Baldwin's Eryngo (Eryngium baldwinii).

Baldwins Eryngo

A lingering 1st Spring male American Redstart was found behind Net 9. One of the last migrants to vacate the scene.

American Redstart

Overhead, three raptors circled high in the morning sky. We could easily tell the largest was a Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle

The other pair were harder for us to make out easily but once on the computer screen we could tell that they were Red-tailed Hawks.

Red-tailed Hawk

At first it seemed they were just hanging out together but soon the hawks would approach the Bald Eagle and there would be a near clash of talons. The eagle soon retreated to the other side of the park.

Bald Eagle

Becki and Corey also got a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird out of the same net we captured a female a couple of weeks ago. Probably a mating pair with a nest quite close by.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Session 7 is now in the books. Time to crunch the numbers and see the totals. It sure seemed like a slower catch rate than the last few years but the figures will have to bare that out. Our numbers would be much lower if not for that 82 total at the Orlando Wetlands Festival.

Until Session 8, take care and thanks for reading!!
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 2nd.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Final Migrant?

Mid-May finds us getting warmer by the day and most Winter migrants gone. The last push back North is happening and it is almost time for us to take our Summer break. As always, we had a few surprises along the way today.

The Barred Owl chicks were again in the middle of the net lanes before dawn but headed back across the way before we could get any good light for photos. One of the adults tried to follow a bit later and got caught in Net 1.

Barred Owl

Richard got a taste of talons during the extraction. Ouch! We don't band our Barred Owls since we know where they are all year.


Lynn was busy with a Carolina Wren as the owl was being brought toward the rest of us. Another adult with a brood patch gathering food for the kids.

Carolina Wren

Just some Pileated Woodpeckers around the snags from time to time today but they are still a pretty sight with the Moon nearly perched on a branch.


A few Northern Cardinals were captured today, all of them feisty.

Northern Cardinal

Time for a check down at the lake. The marsh is mostly crowded with Cattails but there are some other invasives poking through. Hyacinth are trying to stretch their blossoms as the Sun rises in the morning sky.


It takes quite some effort to see out to the water from this side now. Requires some extra watching out for gators and snakes, too!


Just over the vegetation we could watch a Great Blue Heron strut across the pier railing.

Great Blue Heron

Bees and other insects are swarming the Primrose Willow flowers.


The Boat-tailed Grackle from last week came back for a photos. Too bad it blinked!

Boat-tailed Grackle

Overhead a Tricolored Heron and a pair of Wood Stork soared toward the far side of the park.

Wood Stork

We almost missed seeing our Northern Parula in Net 21. It was quiet and still.

Northern Parula

Zack and Becki headed back to the table to help band the Parula.


Another male Northern Cardinal was captured during the same run. It was interesting to observe a predator take note of both the male Cardinals when they were calling while being banded.

Northern Cardinal

It was a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawked. Both occasions saw the hawk fly in fairly close before deciding a meal was not in the offing before flying back across the river to disappear in the woods.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Adriana, our other visitor for the morning braved releasing the Cardinal and became the latest member of the 'bitten by a Cardinal' club.

Northern Cardinal

Lynn made a bunch of fun discoveries in between bird watching. A Giant Leopard Caterpillar was along the lanes. This is the only local critter that eats the invasive Air Potato vines. We see evidence of their chewing throughout the banding site.

Leopard Caterpillar

Hiding under a leaf was a clutch of insect eggs.


What an interesting beetle. Or some other bug...still investigating.


Nearby, a Butterfly was nearly done hardening its wings after emerging from its chrysalis.


A few weeks ago we had a grasshopper and damselfly having a nice chat. This wasp and grasshopper conversation looks a little more...thorny.

Wasp and Grasshopper

A new female Northern Cardinal with a brood patch was caught before we ended up the day.

Northern Cardinal

Our final capture of the day was a pleasant surprise. A female Black-throated Blue Warbler. This will most likely be our final migrant capture of Session 7 which ends at the end of the month.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Or maybe we will get lucky for one more week. Birds go where they wanna.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 17th.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Owls, Dragons, and Locals

Though migrants are still being reported around the state there is very little evidence of them at Lake Lotus. Most everything seen to day were nesting local birds such as a female Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

The one big surprise of the day was a red-morph Eastern Screech Owl captured in Net 18 near the lake. We did not band this bird as we forgot our size 5 bands at home so we took some data and released her. 'Her' based on a brood patch. Only Susan and Andrew were there at the time so we were sorry that some others missed the experience.

Eastern Screech Owl

Next up were a couple of Carolina Wrens out gathering food for the family.

Carolina Wren

Both birds had brood patches so there are nests somewhere close. We should start catching juvenile Carolina Wrens before the season ends at the end of the month.

Carolina Wren

A little later we caught a male Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

Avery was on dragonfly patrol and there were plenty out today. He showed off a rather large specimen captured near the banding table.


There was a pair of Green Herons flying around Net 21 that were netted a couple of times but escaped before we could get a photo. Out on the new sandbar by the pier a Boat-tailed Grackle swooped in to pick at morsels on the sand and to get a drink.

Boat-tailed Grackle

Remember our earlier Eastern Screech Owl? We caught it again. Twice. Seems it was determined to go in one direction back to where we first caught it and kept hitting nets along the way. We decided to just take it all the way back down by hand. Fortunately, Avery was here by now to see it. A Life Bird for him.

Eastern Screech Owl

Once the Eastern Screech Owl was released by Net 18 it flew into a nearby tree and scanned the area for a few minutes before flying off.

Eastern Screech Owl

Two Barred Owl chicks were seen in the early morning but the lighting was so bad that we waited to see if we could relocate them later. They moved back into the forest and we could only find Mom sitting guard next to the net lane.

Barred Owl

Red-winged Blackbirds are being very vocal right now. Even the females are shouting out in the marsh.

Red-winged Blackbird

The Cattails are quickly taking over our improvised path out to the lake. We will have to wait until next session to forge out again. It will be drier and the alligators will not be as active in the Fall.


Other dragonflies were along the river, including Eastern Pondhawks, darners, and damselflies.


Speaking of American Alligators, Pat was up out of the water earlier than usual and this time she was back at the sandy area below the banding table.

American Alligator

Aren't American Alligators so cute?

American Alligator

A male Red-winged Blackbird we banded in March was recaptured today. It is his territory, after all.

Red-winged Blackbird

Farther up river, a Red-eared Slider made use of a stump to do some sunning.

Red-eared Slider

Four more weeks remain in Session 7. The heat is suppose to return next weekend and that should be our last chance of catching any lingering migrants.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 10th.
All nets will be opened by 6:10 A.M.