It was good to be back out to begin the year after the holidays and a very cold week following them. Warm blankets were mush better than spending a morning at freezing plus 12 MPH winds making it well below freezing. If there were any birds around, I am sure we would not have caught too many of them. Now we are back to start the New Year and we began with a lot of recaptures including Gray Catbirds.
A couple of Hermit Thrushes were also caught on the first run, both recaptures also.
The most surprising start to the morning was a pair of Ruby-crowned Kinglets before dawn. These tiny birds usually wait until the day is bright and insects are moving more freely. However, both were in the tandem of nets 9 and 13 right before 7:15 AM. Here is the male, showing streaks of ruby in the head feathers.
Just after 8, things grew completely quiet. A trip out to the lake did not even reveal too many sightings save for a Great Blue Heron hunting on the edge of the vegetation in the water. Little Green and Little Blues were out there later, too. A Common Gallinule called between the Limpkin squawks but nothing else was evident unless you had binoculars to spy a distant Forster's Tern on the very far side of the lake.
Kate found a cocoon next to Net 10. We find them from time to time and are pretty sure that they are the cocoons of Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus). They are very large and found in the area and are a type of silk moth. If you see one hanging out on a wall they are spectacular.
We had a couple from Minnesota visit us today. They get to band up North and wanted to stop by while they were here on their trip to Central Florida. We got out to Net 21 later in the morning and Susan was extracting a House Wren (as scores of warblers flew over the net). Andrew was disappointed it was only a wren with all the other birds flying through but our visitors were more than happy with a close-up view of a fairly common bird to us in the Winter.
Chris got to release the House Wren after the bird was banded and the data recorded.
We were all hoping that the Titmice we were hearing would be coming closer to the table as they usually do as Chris and his wife, Laurie don't get them up North. Here they are regulars at feeders and we have banded many of them. They stayed over in the park today, though. There was another surprise waiting below. Christine walked to the river side below the table and noticed something in the water. One of our American Alligators had moved upstream. The first time in quite a while.
Just before we left for the day the American Alligator came up onto the sandy bank to catch more sunlight. Last year was so wet this spot was not often exposed. After some observation, it appears that this gator was smaller than the one in the past that used to claim this spot, dubbed Pat. It was definitely much smaller than Leslie that lurked near the lake. We present to you Adrian. Andrew is crazy. He names the gators...
As we rolled up the nets, there was one more Ruby-crowned Kinglet waiting in Net 9. Another new male.
Laurie got the release our last banded bird of the day. It seemed slow but records show it was a typical January day here in Florida. We hope you had fun and glad to have had you out!
Time for Birdapalooza. See the note below. If we are not too tired, we will still head out to banding Sunday.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival and Birdapalooza, January 21, 2017
On Saturday January 21, 2017 join Orange County and partners at the 5th annual FREE family-oriented Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival and Birdapalooza at Orange County’s Magnolia Park, 2929 S Binion Rd, Apopka, FL 32703. Enjoy guided bus tours (limited first-come seating), and guided walking and biking nature tours for children and adults on the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. For the entire family there are live animal demonstrations, bird banding, tree giveaways, music, airboat rides (for a fee), owl pellet dissections, entertainment by IBEX Puppetry, bounce houses, face painting, exhibitors, nature-oriented merchandise vendors and food trucks. Schedule is at http://www.birdapalooza.com and updates are on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/Birdapalooza/. In addition to this free festival, Orange Audubon Society offers birding and photo trips and keynote speakers on Friday and Sunday. See www.orangeaudubonfl.org/birdapalooza for details. If any questions, call 407-637-2525.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Saturday, January 21st at Birdapalooza and Sunday, January 22nd back at Lake Lotus.
All nets will be opened by 6:50 A.M.