Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday's Banding

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) banding at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest had its ups and downs yesterday. Mostly, up and down off of the boardwalk! The nest with the four chicks that we were going to band was empty with no tracks in the mud around the tree. Suspects in the heist include the fine-climbing Greenish Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta x quadrivittata) or avian predators like crows.

We did band one female that was sitting on a nest with five eggs, found four chicks (two days old) in another nest, and saw a pair of adults putting nesting material in a cypress knee that has been used as a nest site in previous years. We recorded over 25 visual "recaptures," which will push the observation total over 300. We've entered over 100 observations into our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and the resulting map is already clearly showing nesting territories! (click map image to enlarge)

We also observed various Prothonotary Warblers ducking behind the interpretative signs at #7 and #8 along the boardwalk. At first, we thought the cavity-nesters had selected the nook behind the sign at the top of the 4"x4" post as a nesting site. Similar to the Carolina Wrens building a nest under the upper deck of the observation tower at Goodson Lake. However, the Prothonotary Warblers emerged from behind the signs with cocoons, ripped open the silky shelters, and ate the occupants!

While on the topic of eating, here are two shots of a Dark Fishing Spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus) eating a crayfish. The spider was observed during Saturday's Lowcountry Master Naturalist tour. The spider is eating a large crayfish with the second image showing the top two feet of a six-foot tall cypress knee! Yes, the spider is as big as it appears. Fortunately, they are no threat to humans. Fishing spiders do not build webs, but dive into the water for their prey.

Our busy day was capped with a BBQ in the outdoor classroom prior to the Holcim Cement Community Advisory Committee meeting. Berfore the updates from members of the community and Glenn Raynor of Holcim, Mark Musselman, education director at Beidler Forest, gave a presentation concerning Project PROTHO.

Images by Mark Musselman

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