Andrew here. I headed to the banding site to get a fell as to how much clean-up we might be doing next month especially after we had a couple of big storms roll through that could have felled some of the dead snags. Surprisingly, there was not a lot of damage and the water level was lower than I had expected. Some tree parts have fallen near Net 3 but it looks like the rangers may have moved them out of the main path.
I was also went to see if we had any beneficial beetles emerging but all of the Air Potato leaves near the banding table appear to be untouched. Just below the table in the river I spotted a few very large Armoured Catfish apparently digging out a burrow in preparations for starting a new family. Not good. These non-natives can be very destructive.
By the time I got to Net 6 I did start to see some encouraging signs. The Air Potato leaves higher up are showing some wear and tear.
A bit farther down the lane at Net 12 I noticed a lot of damaged leaves and a bright red beetle floated past me as I walked deeper into the ground cover. Under another leaf I found a pair mating. Bring on the larvae!
Behind Net 22 I found several Silver Argiopes (AR-GEE-OH_PEE) on their squiggly webs in the shade.
There was not a lot of bird activity out here today. I did spot a couple of our banded Northern Cardinals along the way and Titmice and Carolina Wrens were calling back in the woods but not much else. As I neared Net 21, a female Downy Woodpecker flew by at shoulder level, lit upon a tree trunk, and quickly faded back into the shadows. Just then, a Great-crested Flycatcher flew in across the river.
It silently followed me as I headed to the end of the net lanes but soon vanished in the direction of the woodpecker.
Most turtles dive back into the water when approached but this Red-bellied Cooter was pretty defiant as I walked the Net 21 bank. It never flinched.
The only other thing stirring in the breeze were scores of Dragonflies.
I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Swallow-tailed Kites but the only bird riding the thermals was a very distant Black Vulture.
On the way out I did some more exploring around Net 12 and found more and more Air Potato Beetles.
The adults was flying back and forth and nibbling on tender shoots of the Air Potatoes. I expect to find a lot of skeletonized leaves which will mean we can skip pulling vines, at least.
Get to work, beetles! I will come back to check on your progress soon.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 2nd.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.