Sunday, September 30, 2007

Catbirds are Here!

Boy, are they! Out of the 89 birds captured today (the highest total this year) 64 of those were Gray Catbirds.

They began to hit the nets even before I got the triple nets set up, flying in on both sides of me as I struggled to set the final pole. Luckily, the figure of Lorne Malow emerged in the pre-dawn dark to assist in removing them with me.

Back at the banding table, Lane arrived just in time to begin banding as I headed over to net 10 to find several more Catbirds waiting for extraction. Shout indicating the other volunteers were running out of bags came from down the net lanes indicating that they, too, were being kept busy with more Catbirds.

The flood gates of migration for these birds were flung wide open.

Gray Catbird

I was able to make a dash to the 'loop' with all of the remaining bags, passing other banders with hands full of birds heading the other way, and found even more hitting every net we had open.

Rounding the inside of the loop at net 15 I saw a different color scheme flapping near the edge of the net pole. Our 1st Wood Thrush of the season! It nearly made its way to an escape as I approached and quickly sealed off the exit.

Wood Thrush

We also managed to capture another new arriving species of Thrush, a Swainson's Thrush. Nice to see they have made it. The Gray-cheeks will not be far behind.

Swainson's Thrush

During my forays back and forth I was sure I was hearing another familiar Fall sound. The scolding of a House Wren. It took a bit longer before my suspicions were confirmed as we were able to band one before the end of the morning.

House Wren

We finally were able to throw some more color into the mix as, near the end of the nearly endless procession of bird bags was reached, Lane removed a beautiful female Hooded Warbler from it's holding place.

Hooded Warbler

There will be little rest for the next few weeks, if the weather holds, for all of us anxious Wekiva banders.

Fine by me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Swainson's Warbler

It is always nice to have a surprise pop up during a typical banding day. Sure, Cardinals, Towhees, Vireos and such are all nice to see up close but variety is needed to keep you going through a humid bug-filled morning sometimes.

The surprise this morning was a rarely seen visitor to the Wekiva Springs banding station: A Swainson's Warbler.

I was out seeing if we should close down for the day when Maria called out to me and mentioned that they had a 'Swanson's' at teh table for me to get a picture of. For some reason, Maria has always had a hard time saying "Swainson's". It always turns into a TV dinner.

The only Swainson's I was waiting for were the thrushes and figured that was what it was. I continued my walk at a steady pace. Finally arriving at the table, I got a better look. Lane held up the gorgeous, slightly large, warbler.

Swainson's warbler

"What do you think? Swainson's Warbler?", She asked.

Indeed. I forget how much larger they are than other warblers, such as the tiny Prairie Warblers.

Swainson's warbler

I first saw a Swainson's Warbler here at this very spot about 2 years earlier. These birds stay well down in the thickets and are also found in flooded swampland. This is only the 4th such warbler banded at Wekiva in all of its years of operation.

Check out those fresh, crisp feathers!

Swainson's warbler

Can't wait for the next surprise.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blue and Gold Migrants

My mantra of late has been "blue and gold" since I have been hoping to get something exotic at the site like a Cerulean Warbler or Golden-winged Warbler. No luck on those. However, we did get those colors today at Wekiva!

Another welcome sight was the first male American Redstart of the Fall season. We have been banding females for a couple of weeks. This male had interesting orange edges to all of its black feathers.

American Redstart

Then came the blue! A Black-throated Blue Warbler, actually.
A lovely male.

Black-throated Blue

Bring on the yellow! My first ever Hooded Warbler was seen at Wekiva last year. We even banded a few females. This year, I was stunned to see this adult male as it we got it out of the bag.

Hooded Warbler

We later caught a younger male Hooded but the colors were nowhere as striking.

The same cannot be said of the Prothonotary Warbler that greeted us late in the morning. To me, it fairly radiated gold as I brought it out of the bag. The first I have ever gotten to hold.

Prothonotary Warbler

A nice range of color for the day which also brought us the brown of Verrys and the black and white of Chickadees. That should change in the next few weeks as we get the full onslaught of gray. Catbirds are right around the corner!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

New Birds at Wekiva

Birds continue their southern run and we had a few new birds for the season out at Wekiva today.

I was bringing in a Veery when I heard some noise over at net 10. I strode over to see a Chickadee in the net about midway down. I was hanging the bag containing the Verry when it up an bolted straight back out again! Dang.

Don't fear, though, as our day ended with a return visit.

The Veerys were increasing in numbers. I was very pleased with this shot. Make it look so soft and fluffy.


The first real surprise of the day was our first of the season Worm-eating Warbler. I think we may have had only 1 last year but it could have been zero.

Worm-eating Warbler

That was good enough but the best was yet to come. The guys making a net run showed up all excited and announcing they had retreived an Acadian Flycatcher. Excellent! However, when it was brought out of the bag it looked a bit more suspicious to me.

More like a Traill's Flycatcher. Different feather coloration than an Acadian. Different shape to me, too.

We took measurements to eliminate certain species but I kept seeing that open mouth every other time I turned around. Very yellow-orange. Not pinkish. That screamed Alder (one of the two types of Traill's) in the back of my head.

We took a ton of photos from every possible angle and I sent some off to be double-checked. The reply came back: Probable Alder. Definitely not Acadian. Alder it stall be.

Alder Flycatcher

Had a growing count for the day but that missed Chickadee still bugged me hours later. I ran the net lanes one more time to determine if we should stay open or go home. I figured it was time to go. On the way back I was told there was a bird waiting for me to take a picture of.

Carolina Chickadee

Ain't he cute? Caught in the same net as the bird I lost earlier. I will pretend it is the exact same one.

We had one more surprise before we left. A pair of Eastern Kingbirds flew into the tree above net 9 right next to the banding table before continuing on their journey.

Eastern Kingbird

That's what I call a good day.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

First Yellow Warbler Photo

I have seen a number of Yellow Warblers over the years but it always seems that I either don't have the camera with me or the birds are so high in the trees that it renders the camera useless.

I started the morning by swinging past the local lakes to see if the Ring-necked Ducks had decided to show up a little early. There were a couple of shapes out on Lake Cherokee so I slowed and began to scan the water's surface. Turned out to be a couple of non-breeding male Wood Ducks.

However, something else caught my eye. A bright flash of yellow.

Adjusting my eyes closer to the cypress trees in front of me I could tell there was a swarm of warblers bouncing from limb to limb, mostly on the interior section of the bright green foliage. Other colors began to to emerge as I got out of the car, camera in hand.

Turned out there were a few different species in there. Usually they stayed on the lake side of the trees but every now and then one would chase a bug on my side of the tree.

There was a lot of Yellow Warblers in there. Finally, they were almost all at eye level! Easy photo op, right? Nope. Seems Yellow Warbler prefer to keep their heads behind any branch they can place between you and them. Dang.

I was giving up an heading to the car and hear a call note in an oak. I stepped over and found a lone Yellow Warbler. It was pretty high up but at least it decided to preen. Meaning it was almost still. See it?

Yellow warbler

It isn't much but I find that after I get a shot of a bird, no matter how bad, I soon will follow it up with better and better shots down the line.

So this is step one. I'll take it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Thrushes Return

I know I mentioned that migration was upon us but, to me, it really gets going once the Thrushes start arriving.
Today at Wekiva we got our first Veery.

Northern Parula

They arrive first and then come the Swainson's, Grey-cheeked, and Wood Thrushes. A welcome sight.

Also, we had a few more migrating Warblers. Leading the charge was a gorgeous female American Redstart.

American Redstart

Next up was a Northern Waterthrush. Not a Thrush at all, despite the name.

Northern Waterthrush

Finally, we are still seeing a large number of Prairie Warblers. Prairies are one of the earliest migrants to kick off the season.

Prairie Warbler

Things begin to heat up now. Weather thinks about cooling down, too. We hope. Very humid mornings still in the scrub.