The Orlando area has had a couple of heavy rain events the past couple of days and the banding site was still dripping with moisture before dawn as we arrived to set nets. In the darkness we could tell the river level was up a bit but had no idea how high the water had risen until later in the morning. Much higher than we expected. At least we had a bright ray of yellow to attach to the day with a new species captured here. More on that bird later.
Just a quick recap from last week. Our visitor from the last two weeks, Carol, sent along photos she took last week. At one point of net checks she and Andrew spent some time in close quarters with a Limpkin that was perched above the river. They typically are feeding in shallow water and you don't get shots of those amazing feet.
Andrew was explaining their diet when they discovered an empty mussel shell along the bank. They dig in the soft mud for them and love Apple Snails, too.
A female Northern Cardinal was heard waking early as Andrew set nets at numbers 9 and 13. He could also begin to hear the rush of water behind him. How far had the river gotten? Not long after dawn the female Cardinal was recaptured. We first banded her three weeks ago and continue to catch her early in the day in the same spot every week.
Our shoes were already soaked by 7 AM and after Andrew placed a new palette to cross some flooding Christine captured a pair of Carolina Wrens in Net 5. The first was a recaptured female.
With her was a juvenile, most likely one of her new brood.
Hearing warbler chips in the woods reminded Andrew that he had to get his binoculars. Once he returned he was watching the skies and glanced over to Net 15. Was that a leaf? Nope. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was in the net. She stayed in our care fora while. Hummingbirds tend to sit for awhile after being retrieved to recoup but this gal sat longer than usual. We worried over her and she was very responsive, blinking and raising her head but would not fly off.
Eventually, Andrew head back to the car again and brought back some Gatorade (we had no actual sugar water mixture). Adrianna dipped her bill into the fluid and after a short time she flew off into the woods.
We were tending to the hummingbird when Christine brought in the Bird-of-the-Day but let's take a tour of the river first, saving the best for last.
Once the light was up and we could assess the water situation (we already knew Net 21 was out of the line-up for the day) we got some shots of the area. If you are new to the blog, we band along the Little Wekiva River that runs into Lake Lotus before heading off to the main Wekiva. When it rains, all of the water in the area from the South from the Orlando region flow into the Little Wekiva. We din't think that there was that much rain but the river is up 4-5 feet now.
If you look back in the archives (click on American Alligator in the right-hand sidebar) you will see that we often see Alligators sunning in this spot below the banding table. No chance for that now.
Still trying to convey the amount of water flowing through right now. Picture this scene on a 'normal' day. The bottom of that dock in 6 feet above the river bed then.
Earlier, Christine noticed that one of Richard's nest boxes was knocked over. Since we were busy with birds it just seemed like something that had happened for some reason. Just not the reasons we speculated.
Later we noticed that the nearby bat box was also stressed by some fallen limbs.
It turns out that a large oak from the opposite side of the river had fallen over since last week and smashed into out Net 19 area. This was always a tree we spotted swarms of warblers feeding in. Now the entire top of that tree is resting next to our net lane.
Behind Net 14, the 'restored' observation area that was crushed in the last flood is back under water again.
The water behind Net 18 had dropped greatly over the past few weeks but is now bloated along the Cypress line. We spotted a Prothonatary Warbler out here later in the morning.
Looking back along the river, the boardwalk is to the right. In a dry Winter season we can hop across the bank here. Again, it is now 4-5 feet higher.
We heard a noisy 'waterfall' sound while setting nets in the dark and figured Net 21 was out of reach. The first sign after dawn was a small breach before the turn in the path leading to the marsh.
The waterfall sound was actually coming from a spot that breached during the last flood. We lined the area with fallen limbs to try to staunch the water flow and now the water is cascading over the top of those branches.
The palette placed here is still hanging tough in the flow. Perhaps one of the vines we usually clear is clinging to it. Thankful for any help. We have lost several palettes in this area over the years.
Any thoughts of checking Net 21 are summed up here. That is the path leading to the site. Will we have a new beach or a total washout? Time will tell. We hoped to get that net back open since we saw Yellow Warblers there last week. Oh, well.
Noticed along the river was this interesting Caterpillar. We are checking on the ID.
The Beautyberry plants are coming into ripe fruit. Can't wait for the migrants to find them soon.
OK, back to birds. Christine and Susan returned with a few bags and Becki got the banding duties. First up was another Northern Cardinal.
All hands were on deck to get reading of the new birds. In case you are interested, Octavia, our Golden Silk Spider, weathered the storms and is getting larger just beyond Becki here.
The other two birds were Black-and-White Warblers. An adult and juvenile female.
Still wondering about the Bird-of-the-Day? Our first-ever Kentucky Warbler. Net 2 was initially set where it is in the hopes that we would catch them and Hooded Warblers in a proper habitat but we had caught both of these species now down around the middle of the net lanes.
Fine by us that we catch them at all. This Kentucky Warbler seems to be a bit early for predicted migration and has added yet another species of warbler to our ranks.
Despite a lot of moisture we are having a good start to the banding season. Now we move into seeing Ovenbirds, Common Yellowthroats, and soon afterwards some Thrushes. Can't wait. To get these wet shoes off...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 23rd.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.