Sunday, September 27, 2015

Steady Mix

Dry shoes in the morning? Not yet. It did rain a bit but the river was lower and we can see the river bed again after a couple of months. Vegetation is still exploding but a pink sunrise was a nice start to the morning as we waited to see what migrants would be flying through.


There was a creature in Net 18 as we headed to set Net 21. An early bird? No, a bat. We seem to get a couple of bats this time if year and it is almost always in Net 18 on the edge of a swampy region before the lake.


Susan headed back to the table to get gloves but Andrew dared to use a bird bag to hold the bat as Lynn snipped a couple of net threads to fully release the bat. Most of the time we just open the net and the bat can easily fly free. We released it toward the opposite side of the river and moved along.


Our first bird captured was a Common Yellowthroat, our most numerous species of the day. They are traveling along the river and popping out from the grasses flying back and forth and hitting the nets.

Common Yellowthroat

Next up was an Ovenbird, our second most numerous species today.


We also captured two White-eyed Vireos this morning as they increase their migration through the property.

White-eyed Vireo

A juvenile Carolina Wren managed to get itself all kind of tangled in Net 6 but we eventually removed and banded it.

Carolina Wren

Lynn's Nature Time! Lynn began photographing things before the sunlight even hit the lanes and found some interesting finds. She got a great shot of a Wheel bug (Arilus cristatus), also called an Assassin Bug. They use their long snout to impale other insects.


Among the blades of grass, where the pollen is plentiful, a Honey Bee climbed up for some gathering.

Honey Bee

We were hearing Brown Thrashers all morning so it was only a matter of time until we caught this beautiful adult.

Brown Thrasher

Back at the table, a sweaty and seed-covered Andrew weighs the next bird.

Common Yellowthroat

Yet another Common Yellowthroat and they seem to be returning closer to the table after many years of only being captured closer to the lake.

Common Yellowthroat

Our final bird of the morning was a new Northern Cardinal out at Net 17. They were staying in the woods for quite a while but seem to be on the move again now that the youngsters are fledged and more on their own.

Northern Cardinal

We are planning to band all weekend next week as we do every year. The first week of October is historically the peak of migration and we try to get in an extra day when we can. Last year we never had a real peak and it will be up to the weather, as always, but we hope to have a good day. Gray Catbirds should be back and often we start seeing some Buntings arriving early. We shall see!
Next (planned) Banding Days: Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd and 4th.
All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

More Migrants Filtering Through

While the rain wasn't falling as much in the surrounding areas, it seems that it did rain close enough to the banding site to raise the river level. Again. The net lanes looked inviting enough as we got closer to the lake...

Net Lanes

...but just before Net 21 things were mired in muck and more water. The trip to the net was daunting but eventually worth it as we will reveal at the end of the post. Wet feet were in order early on once more.

Net Lanes

Kieran had the banding duties today on his final visit of his trip and we had a few Common Yellowthroats early on. All were female.

Common Yellowthroat

We also had a recaptured Carolina Wren that we banded in August. The young bird seems to be living right next to Net 2 and we catch it nearly every week now. Ovenbirds were due and, sure enough, they began hitting the nets.


Andrew got a surprise photo of Kieran as he examined our first Ovenbird. He calls them his favorite of the North American passerines. Glad we could get a couple for him to see and hold.


He even got to band our second one a little later. Ovenbirds are stout, cute little birds with an orange stripe across the top of their heads.


Spiny Orb Weavers are not unusual to see during the day. What was unusual about this one was how fast it built this intricate web which was anchored to a tree on the right and to Net 6 on the left. It might have gone unnoticed if not for a shaft of sunlight creating a web bow.

Web Bow

What time is it? Lynn's Nature Corner, of course! First up was a fly perched on the bloom of a Spanish Needle.


A gorgeous wasp was found clinging to a blade of grass. Don't recognize the species.


A Leafhopper joined us with wet feet of its own.


As did a tiny weevil.


Things were growing quite later in the morning and it seemed like we were not going to catch much else today. Then Andrew watched as a Red-Eyed Vireo flew directly into Net 9. They typically stay high in the treetops so it is a pleasant surprise whenever we get one to band.

Red-Eyed Vireo

Susan spotted something writhing on the ground as we headed back to the table with our last bird. Seems like someone tread upon a Glass Lizard. There are four species of glass lizards found in Florida, all belonging to the scientific genus Ophisaurus. We released it back into the woods hoping it would recover.

Glass Lizard

Our last bird was captured at Net 21 that we mentioned was worth muddy feet. Last year at this time we captured our first ever Worm-eating Warbler. This makes our third.

Worm-eating Warbler

Fronts are going to be fluctuating all over the place next week. Wish any luck we can have some dry air usher in clearer conditions and more migrants. Should be time for Catbirds.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 27th.
All nets will be opened by 6:45 A.M.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

A cold front was threatening yet another Sunday but we braved the morning knowing that rains would be on the way before midday. Plus, we had visitors on the way and if we can get in a few hours then the better not to disappoint folks that have traveled from across the pond to join us. Still, it was another sauna morning with early sweat while setting nets and preparing for the day.

We managed to set nets and beat back the vegetation to get ready and caught a Common Yellowthroat early on. Once the information was processed, the bird was handed to visitor Kieran for a closer look before release.

Common Yellowthroat, Kieran

Kieran is getting in some experience for banding (ringing in the UK) and we were more than welcome to help him get some time in banding birds here in Florida.

Before we made the next net checks we were talking about how a lot of Waterthrushes had already moved through the area. Then we caught two out at Net 21 (soggy, but now reachable) and another was seen there moments later. Kieran got the banding duties for the remainder of the morning. His Dad, Derek, was on hand as well.


We got a close up of one of the Northern Waterthrushes before release.

Northern Waterthrush

Clouds continued to roll through and birding was fairly quiet. We did record Red-eyed Vireos, Yellow-throated Warbler, and other local birds but nothing too unusual. Which brings us to what we now have to relabel "Lynn's Nature Corner". It was just bugs before but Lynn captured some great Nature shots today as we surveyed the property. Several shots show just how wet the morning was, Like the water clinging to our Anoles in the vegetation.


Not sure if this Anole isn't simply playing a droplet balancing game...


Ms. Argiope was in mid-breakfast and didn't mind the moisture much.


Nearby, a small Tree frog explored the area but couldn't escape Lynn's camera.

Tree frog

She also found a Katydid showing signs of erythrism, a "congenital condition of abnormal redness in an animal's fur, plumage, or skin". We have seem others like it along the net lanes in the past.


Spiny Orb Weavers are very common, especially this time of year.

Spiny Orb Weaver

Moths spring into the air as we walk along the paths and through the Guinea Grass.


Another spider species was found today. Can you spot it? That is a tiny Crab Spider lurking under the bloom of a Spanish Needle.

Crab Spider

A small Weevil searches for a launching pad.


While Andrew was returning to the table, he felt something climbing up the back of his neck. A quick swat and it was discovered to be a good-sized Praying Mantis. He placed it on a holly shrub where the mantis cleaned it fore claws and and recovered form the stunning it had just received.

Praying Mantis

A bit later Lynn came along for a closer look.

Praying Mantis

Kieran got to process our final bird of the morning. A Carolina Wren. Becky brought Killim along for a morning in the fresh air.


Our records show that Veerys should be arriving about now. Right on time, Andrew found one above Net 1. It was calling as it flew from branch to branch.


Looking at the dark plumage and spotless throat it seems to be a Western sub-species that we do not see here often. It would not hit the nets today. Instead it flew into the woods behind Net 12, still calling as it went.


Thunder (and this magical thing called a Weather App?) told us that rain was quickly advancing upon us. We folded up nets and made it to our vehicles just as the leading edge reached Lake Lotus. Birds should be able to flow through the state once this front clears us in a few days. Next week could be a lot better as we head towards October.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 20th.
All nets will be opened by 6:45 A.M.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Scheduled Migrants Return

More rain in the previous week kept the river levels high and this photo from Lynn sums up the morning. Wet. Again. We didn't have rain but it was still overcast most of the morning and our shoes and socks were soaked once more.

Spanish Needles

Fortunately, migrants don't take much of the weather in account when it comes time to move. The first bird we captured was a species we expected at this time in the season. Our first migrant Common Yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat

Behind the table at Net 2 we found a pair of Carolina Wrens.

Carolina Wren

This was probably a mating pair as we first caught them last year close to one another then.

Carolina Wren

Augustine and Avery have been coming out for quite awhile now. Today they brought Avery's brother, Andy, and he got to release a few of our birds.

Carolina Wren

Soon afterwards, another male Common Yellowthroat was captured in Net 9.

Common Yellowthroat

We hit a bit of a lull in the bird activity so we began to explore the area for a while. Hopefully, we can have some dry weather before next week but it will take some time for the water to drop in this area.


We have lost another palette bridge heading to Net 21 as the last storms breached the banks in several areas.


Now we come to what we should really call "Lynn's Bug Corner". Her new macro lens is capturing amazing shots along the net lanes. First up, a close-up of a moth in the hand.


Next, a large caterpillar creeping along a branch.


Time for a real close-up!


An interesting wasp was found stepping over water droplets.


Spider time. So if you are adverse to those kinds of images just quickly scroll down. This time of year the spiders come out in droves and everyone appreciates that Andrew walks the lanes first to clear most of the webs before they walk into them. Orchard Spiders (Leucauge venusta)are very common in Central Florida but we really don't see a lot of them at Lake Lotus.

Orchard Spider

Andrew was scouting the area yesterday and found a small yellow spider between Nets 16 and 17. We looked earlier for it but it took a while to return. Lynn got the shot of this interesting spider that we are still trying to positively ID.

Yellow Spider

Argiope (AR-GEE_OH-PEE) spiders are emerging all over the place this week and Lynn was more than happy to get detailed shots.


Damselflies are increasing their numbers as Summer plods on and were flying all along the trails throughout the morning.


Ants were busy early in the day, too. With all the rainfall we are seeing many large mounds popping up all along the paths.


Many variety of fungus are still showing up with all of the moisture. Most of them are consuming fallen logs but more are springing out of tree trunks.


The other species we were expecting this week arrived on time. Phyllis got our first Ovenbird of the season at Net 5.


Typically, male Common Yellowthroats arrive first in migration but there was a female found yesterday and one captured this morning.

Common Yellowthroat

We had our adult males early in the day but we did get a juvenile male Common Yellowthroat by the end of the day.

Common Yellowthroat

Our parting shot is of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A pair were chasing bugs and each other near Net 21 as the Cicadas began their loud whine signaling the end of our morning.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Time for more migrants next week. Time will tell what will arrive but can we dry it up just a bit?
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, September 13th.
All nets will be opened by 6:30 A.M.