Sunday, February 28, 2016

Spring is Closer Than You Think

Spring is definitely in the air. Local birds are moving about and claiming territory and some migrants are beginning to move. But our first bird of the day was a female Northern Cardinal. "Are all of the first shots of the day going to be blurry?" Maybe. Hopefully not for long.

Northern Cardinal

Gray Catbirds are really getting active and they ruled the day. Mostly the Catbirds were recaptures that we banded earlier in the season.

Gray Catbird

Adding to the Northern Cardinal list was a recaptured male.

Northern Cardinal

Another recaptured Gray Catbird where you can see the rufus undertail coverts.

Gray Catbird

Net 21 is being attacked by rainy conditions and we are going to reposition it so that volunteers won't risk falling into the river while extracting birds. The next big rain could erode this bank again as it has altered it in the past.

Net 21

Limpkins are chasing each other all over the area as the next round of breeding is heating up.

Lipmpkin

Their calls were heard from before dawn and all through the morning.

Lipmpkin

Becky's Dad, Richard, and Charles helped out today, checking nets throughout the morning.

Gentlemen

We finally caught our first Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped Warbler) this year. Two years ago they were abundant but this year they are far more scarce.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

Then we caught a second. A male that is starting to transition into breeding plumage.

Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

A nice surprise was a Western Palm Warbler. We are hoping that the repositioned Net 21 will net us more Palms next week.

Western Palm Warbler

Near the lake, a male Red-winged Blackbird was calling for over an hour.

Red-winged Blackbird

Tired of the chase, a female Lipmpkin worked her way up the river to try and find some food in the quiet in the river.

Lipmpkin

Becki and Killian went out to the marsh to observe for birds and found a couple of Marsh Wrens darting through the reeds and Cattails.

Marsh Wren

Still, the Gray Catbirds were being brought in. They may be the most recovered birds for the next couple of weeks.

Gray Catbird

With the river levels dropping, turtles are finding spots to sun. We should start to see the alligators retuning to these spots as the weather warms.

Turtle

The Barred Owls are getting ready to nest and are calling early and we were graced with a bird perched along the net lanes as we began to wind down for the day.

Barred Owl

Northern Parula began arriving a few days ago and are now singing most of the morning. They are feeding super-quick and are hard to photograph. With all of the local trees beginning to bloom we hope to catch a few in the following weeks. They breed here in good numbers.

Northern Parula

The weather should be perfect next week. Spring is here by our accounts. Let the nets be full of interesting birds!

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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, March 6th.
All nets will be opened by 6:25 A.M.

Monday, February 22, 2016

2016 Orlando Wetlands Festival, Pt. 2

We continue our hike where we left off in Part 1. At this part of the walk we had a lot of LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) fluttering past near the shore. They would disappear into the grasses. Every now and then one would hop out into the open like this lovely Savannah Sparrow.

Savannah Sparrow

Ankle deep in the water were a few Glossy Ibis.

Glossy Ibis

A few yards away, a Great Egret prepares to snag a snack.

Great Egret

The Snowy Egrets were using the vegetation to skip across the water in search of a quick meal.

Snowy Egret

There was a nice surprise near our destination (searching for a Flycatcher) at the far side of the park. Shifting near the opposite shore was a nice, pink Roseate Spoonbill.

Roseate Spoonbill

We could not find the flycatcher but there was a perfectly posed Wood Stork up in a Pine Tree.

Wood Stork

Did we mention that Purple Gallinules were all over the place today?

Purple Gallinule

This American Alligator was practically asking for its picture to be taken. OK.

American Alligator

Another nice surprise today were many American White Pelicans on the property. One flock of juveniles was right along the berm scooping out fish left and right.

White Pelican

They would often form a line and herd the fish toward the shallower waters.

White Pelican

Spring must be closer than it seems. This Palm Warbler was molting into breeding plumage already.

Palm Warbler

This is a blurry photo but an ID shot was in order since we don't see too many Caspian Terns this far inland. It was flying almost as the Tree Swallows!

TK

Back in the reeds, a tiny bird was flitting about just out of sight. Eventually we got some good views of a male Common Yellowthroat.

TK

As we got closer to the banding table Maria spotted something moving near the reeds. Turns out it was an American Bittern! Usually, these birds stay hidden in the reeds and can often be mistaken for them. Oddly, this bird was in the open and moving towards us...

American Bittern

We took 60 photos of this beautiful American Bittern and helped a birding hike group spot it as they passed by. Might never get this opportunity again.

American Bittern

By the time we got back to the banding table we could tell the day was shifting. The wind had picked up so our chances of getting many more birds had now dropped.

Wind

The hiking group we helped spot the Bittern paid us back by alerting us to a bird in the nets. An Ovenbird. A common bird during migration but not out here at this time of year.

Ovenbird

A very elated visitor got to release the Ovenbird.

Ovenbird

Even if the catch rates were down we had birds at the right time most of the time when groups stopped by.

Table

Another visitor gets to release a Gray Catbird.

Gray Catbird

Our nets this years stretched just around the corner but is was a good thing we checked all the way around. At the very end of the net we had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Probably the same one that had been flying back and forth around the banding table all morning. Andrew was asked to go onto a passing tour bus to explain banding and to let visitors get some photos.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Another Myrtle Warbler is added to the day's tally.

Myrtle Warbler

Our final capture of the day was a Palm Warbler. The earlier photo out on the berms was a Western Palm but this was an Eastern, or Yellow Palm, also molting into its Spring plumage.

Palm Warbler

One more happy child gets to release our Palm Warbler.

Palm Warbler

Lynn captured a perfectly posed Gray Catbird that avoided our nets but it is a good representative photo since we heard so many today.

Gray Catbird

Overall, all reports were very positive about the day and the overall event. This was our 3rd best catch rate at the Orlando Wetlands Festival and we all had a great time. Back to home next Sunday. Might be a little chilly, but not too bad.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 28th.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2016 Orlando Wetlands Festival, Pt 1

With the computer back in operation we realized that we have a ton of photos. Going to have to make a couple of posts to cover everything. It was a birding festival, of course, so there were a bunch of species to discover.

We had an early surprise. The park made some signs to direct people toward us.

Sign

We never know what kind of day we are going to have. Especially after last year's record shattering capture rate. We were once again gathering birds not long after we opened the nets and the bags began to be added to the branches before banding actually commenced

bags

Gray Catbirds were plentiful today. Some years we will only catch a couple but they were all over the property this year.

Gray Catbird

Our second bird surprised us. The first of two Orange-crowned Warblers we got. Think this is the first time we have gotten them out here.

Orange-crowned Warbler

One flock no one was happy to see was a flock of Paragliders frightening birds all around the marshes.

Paraglider

A Limpkin flew in to feed behind the net. It found many shelled snack over the hours it searched and the shore was littered with the discarded bits.

Limpkin

The most common bird we catch at the Wetlands is the Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler. They led the totals today as they usually do.

Myrtle Warbler

Flying in from across the road was a White-eyed Vireo. Lynn got a photo of Andrew taking a photo.

White-eyed Vireo

Here is Andrew's view.

White-eyed Vireo

"What did you guys put on me?"

White-eyed Vireo

The next Myrtle Warbler, a male beginning to molt into Spring plumage.

Myrtle Warbler

One of Andrew's co-workers in the the "real world" arrived in time to release the next Myrtle Warbler.

Myrtle Warbler

The group of visitors consisted of a bunch of very happy kids.

Myrtle Warbler

Becki and Killian prepare the table for the rest of the day.

Table

Time for a hike! At the end of the net line a Turkey Vulture takes wing over the grassy marsh.

Turkey Vulture

A distant Hammock around the corner is one of our favorite vistas.

Hammock

A White Ibis watched us walk by as it rested on a moss covered tree.

White Ibis

A friend mentioned 19 Black-crowned Night Herons resting around the corner. Most of them were hard to see as they perched deep in the branches.

Black-crowned Night Heron

In drier years this spot is usually being used by large American Alligators sunning on the mud. With the high water only a few young gators float through the water.

American Alligator

Trying to stay hidden, a Black-bellied Whistling Duck sleeps on the far bank.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

The Orlando Wetlands are a great place to find Purple Gallinules. Today they were especially visible, walking this way...

Purple Gallinule

...and that.

Purple Gallinule

A small note alerted us to look to the right. A Marsh Wren was perched on top of the grass before disappearing again.

Marsh Wren

Tree Swallows were all over the place out on the impoundments. At times they would fly a foot away from you on their way from one insect to the next. They are notoriously hard to photograph as they zip past.

Tree Swallow

Ospreys began to hunt as the day warmed up.

Osprey

In the next impoundment a Great Egret frames a splash of yellow.

Great Egret

We will leave Part 1 with a female Anhinga resting on a snag out in the water.

Anhinga

Stay tuned for Part 2. A lot more birds to follow.
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Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, February 28th.
All nets will be opened by 6:20 A.M.