Well, we showed up. Too bad the birds did not. It was a very quiet banding day for the 10th annual Lake Lotus Earth Day celebration and it was a new set up for us with a total change of guard since our last appearance two years ago. Several of us arrived at 7 AM to get things set up for the day.
Nets were set but nothing was flying about. Our local Barred Owl fledgeling was set up directly across from our 2nd net. We worried that maybe it would be a problem with a raptor so close to our nets but baby sat around hissing all day and never posed a threat to any possible captures through out the day.
In years past, we were surrounded by the calls of begging Northern Parula chicks as we we sat through the day. Today, we only had one over our double net setting in the woods. It was very vocal and was first seem flittering its wings in the branches overhead begging Dad for food.
It seemed like the chick was going to sit in wait but it soon flew from place to place as it followed Dad as he gathered insects.
Sometimes it was chipping, sometimes it fluffed up for a bit.
At one point it found a place in the open and was sitting surrounded by potential food. Just to the right is a spider. Still time to learn picking them off.
Dad was gathering insects frantically and was a bit harder to get in focus. It was surprising that we never got him in the nets as he fed up and down the the lanes often diving mere inches from the them before returning to stuff bugs into the mouth of his baby.
The male Northern Parula spent several minutes scaring small moths out of their hiding places, one by one, and once he had a full bill would deliver them to baby.
Meanwhile, our baby Barred Owl woke up for a little while was was shown off to a few visitors.
It was very quiet all over the property. Eventually, we captured our first bird of the day. It was a Northern Cardinal that was first banded 4 years ago and captured in Net 21 near the lake.
Out at the pier, a few baby American Alligators are hanging out in the shallows.
At the base of the pilings, a small turtle warms up in the morning sunshine.
A Tricolored Heron spent time plucking minnows for breakfast along the reeds.
Another baby American Alligator was nearby waiting for its breakfast.
Out on the sand bar, an Anhinga dries out in the morning breeze.
Just behind it, a Great Blue Heron plucks snacks from the mouth of the river just past our last net on the regular side of banding.
Just after that jaunt to the pier, we captured a Carolina Wren. It was first banded last May.
We drew a crowd to see the bird and one of our visitors got to release the Carolina Wren. It promptly flew away from the crowd...and into the demo net. At least everyone got to see how we catch birds!
Andrew went over to the opposite side of the river to retrieve an SD card (stay tuned for that post!) and returned to be confronted by Momma Barred Owl while trying to get back to the other side of the river. Photo op? Sure.
Once the card was retrieved, he noticed something moving through the leaf litter. It appeared the be a wasp riding a caterpillar at a very rapid pace. Caterpillars can't move that fast. Once he saw the image on screen something else was evident. The wasp was dragging the caterpillar which was apparently stunned by venom and probably now the food source for the wasp's larva.
Back at the table, a crowd had gathered, but for what? A Rough Green Snake was slithering through the grass and Nick was holding it to show to the visitors. It was released and made its way back to safety away from stomping feet.
As time wound down on the day we caught one more Carolina Wren also a recapture banded after hatching on property last Spring.
Another lucky guest got to release the Carolina Wren back into the woods.
This was the slowest Earth Day we have worked over the years. There are just not many birds in the area right now. It seems weather conditions have moved Spring Migration up the center of the country. Radars show most migrating birds are traveling up Mexico and into Texas and farther North. Maybe the birds that travel up the East Coast are just running late? Time will tell.
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, April 30th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.