Sunday, May 14, 2017

Looks Like Migration is Over

Strong winds from the Southeast continue to usher birds through Mexico and up through Texas for Spring migration this year so we are having a difficult time capturing Northward birds. Ever since Hurricane Matthew the entire wind fields seem to have shifted leaving us fairly quiet.

Then, just when you keep hoping for a late migrant in the morning, you end up with a bat in your net instead. We usually get one every Spring and this one was particularly drawn to bitting everything that got near its mouth. With careful, slow movements, Andrew got his fingers around its neck and finally removed it from the net. It then proceeded to fly right back in for a repeat of the previous few minutes before it flew off towards the park.

Bat

Our first bird was a female Northern Cardinal with a brood patch. Local birds are still nesting even while many species are done and busy feeding fledglings.

Northern Cardinal

Our first newly hatched capture of the year was a juvenile Carolina Wren. May is our month to get all of the new babies on the property. Today we only got one but at times we get as many as eight at a time.

Carolina Wren

We have not heard or seen the fledged Barred Owl in the past two weeks, but William found the adults preening one another near the river.

Barred Owl

The next bird was brought in by the group as the light began to stream through the trees.

Carolina Wren

It was a recaptured Carolina Wren first banded years ago and still going strong.

Carolina Wren

One of our new visitors, Sarah, got to release the wriggly Carolina Wren to return to its foraging for the juveniles nearby.

Carolina Wren

Vegetation it growing like crazy out by the lake and spider webs were clinging to all of the taller structures like Cattails.

Spider webs

Primrose willows are even more aggressive and letting webs drape among them as the morning warmed.

Spider webs

An interesting site by the lake was an indentation in the spreading grasses at the mouth of the river leading into the lake. Pretty sure this was formed by a gator catching sunlight at some point. Or could it be a bear? Hmmm...

Grass

Dragonflies are in full display as the weather warms and William managed a great close up.

Dragonfly

Do you know one of the birds that feast on dragonflies? Green Herons. Herons in general, actually. They were busy picking them off for breakfast all morning.

Green Heron

William also found a lurking Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker by Net 21. They are common in the region but hard to find from time to time. They do breed around the region but for some reason we rarely see them close-up.

Yellow-shafted Flicker

Back by the table, Adrian made a rather early appearance. Our medium-sized American Alligator decided to find some heat pretty early in the morning.

American Alligator

Usually, the American Alligator stay in the lake or wait until near noon to bask. Adrian had another agenda.

American Alligator

Great-crested Flycatchers were gathering material and bathing nearby late in the day. Looking rather damp. As the crew watched, one of the Flycatchers dropped to the ground and then flew into the net.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Great-crested Flycatchers breed in Central Florida. We even placed nest boxes for them but they never used them. They are using other cavities around the property and now they are super active. This is the first we have captured in 5 years!

Great-crested Flycatcher

It was nice to have an opportunity to get some nice shots of the bird showing its crest after we banded it.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Nick extracted the bird and insisted on a shot. We don't blame him. It is an excellent bird to hold.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Just a bit later, William got a shot of our newly banded Great-crested Flycatcher returning to its activities down the net lanes.

Great-crested Flycatcher

So, who knows what we can end up with in the next two weeks? Winds are blowing far West, pushing birds away from us, and no rain for a while... However, we will still be around for two more weeks. Perhaps...
______________________________________
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 21st.
All nets will be opened by 6:00 A.M.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lots of Visitors, a Few birds

To start with what could be our last cool morning of the season, new visitors began joining us at dawn and we got our first bird of the day which was a nice surprise. A female Indigo Bunting. We thought we might get our last one of the Spring on Earth Day so it was nice to get one a couple of weeks later.

Indigo Bunting

One of our new volunteers, Nikko, got to release our newly banded Indigo Bunting.

Indigo Bunting

Next up was a female Northern Cardinal. She had a brood patch so the nest cannot be too far away.

Northern Cardinal

Shortly afterward, Susan and Phyllis had a couple of birds in Net 19. Here, they extract a recaptured Carolina Wren.

Carolina Wren

The entire crowd gathered round and Andrew struck back with a photo of his own. Still, the camera could not capture all of them as they flanked both sides of the table. It was great to have Elizabeth, Christine's friend from the UK in light blue, returning for a visit.

Crowd

The adult Carolina Wren did not show a brood patch as they usually breed a bit earlier than other species in the area and their brood is likely already fledged and hiding on the property.

Carolina Wren

Returning visitor Eileen got to release the Wren.

Carolina Wren

The other bird caught at the same time was a female American Redstart.

American Redstart

Christine got to supply the nightmare of the morning. A large spider was on Net 12. Probably a Huntsman's Spider.

Spider

As Andrew jumped the river to sneak away into the woods, as he is prone to do (ask his Mom), Nick got a shot of the escape.

Andrew

While out on the fishing pier, Andrew had a bird fly by him and into the woods on the other side. He was thrilled to identify the bird and couldn't wait to tell the crowd. Turns out that they soon got a better view of the bird up near the river. It was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo! Haven't seen one of them for a while but they do live here year round. Luckily, Rachel got a shot of it before it flew off again.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

She also captured a shot of one of the Swallow-tailed Kites cruising high overhead.

Swallow-tailed Kite

There was another couple of good finds just after that. There were a pair of female Blackpoll Warblers high in the trees (no photos) but the other bird we were thrilled to see was nearby. As everyone headed back down to find it again we spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk on the prowl which probably explained the lack of smaller birds around.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The real find of the morning was our first ever seen Scarlet Tanager on property for us. It gave everyone a nice view for a little longer before flying over to the park side across the river.

Scarlet Tanager

Our final bird of the day was a male American Redstart. There were several seen today as they make their way back North to breed.

American Redstart

Rachel got to release the American Redstart. Think she hated it...

American Redstart

Just before we packed up, a male Pileated Woodpecker (told by the red stripe near the bill) landed on the snag next to the banding table before flying off in search of food.

Pileated Woodpecker

We were hoping for a little more activity but the birds that were around were mainly high in the trees today and NEXRAD radar shows that most migrating birds are streaming straight up Mexico into Texas instead of over on the eastern coast. Three weeks to go in our Session 9 before our Summer break but we can still get some interesting birds in the next couple of weeks.
______________________________________
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, May 14th.
All nets will be opened by 6:05 A.M.