Our first season banding out on Caladesi Island turned out to be an adventure with new and different challenges. We began by working with DEP biologist, Dan Larremore, to identify locations to put our mist nets. Once this was accomplished, we went back out to the island with volunteers to clear the net lanes. This went smoothly with the only excitement being a close encounter with a healthy, diamond-back rattlesnake (which are fairly common on the island).
We coordinated with Assistant Park Manager, Brett Gormon, and his staff to allow us to get picked up before dawn from the DEP dock. Once on the island, we had a 3/4 mile walk down to our study site. With the net poles already up, it took very little time for the well-trained crew of volunteers to get the 12 mist nets set up and open for the morning. In total, we had 5 days of banding (one was cancelled due to high winds). We saw a fair number of neotropical migrants like warblers, tanagers and grosbeaks with the most exciting being 3 Bay-breasted warblers. Unfortunately, the bay-breasteds were up too high and away from our nets.
The banding season ended with an interesting change in the habitat surrounding half of our net locations. The park staff had conducted a prescribed burn the week before and thoroughly burned all the vegetation around our net locations rendering the area unproductive for catching birds. We quickly moved a few of the nets to different locations but it didn’t make much of a difference. I whole-heartedly support the land management practice of prescribed burning. It is an essential tool for keeping the habitats on the island healthy for all the flora/fauna. I just wished they had been able to hold off 1 more week.
A very special thanks to the dedicated crew of banding volunteers without whom this project would not be possible. Also, thank you to Harvey Kerstein who provided the banding crew with boat transportation at an insanely early time Sunday mornings. He always showed up with a smile and delivered us safely (and in style) to the Caladesi Island boat dock. Lastly, we are very appreciative of the generous support from the Caladesi Island Ferry who transported the volunteers back to Honeymoon Island after each mornings banding session.
Below are the totals for our 5 days of banding plus some photos from the season.
Best Birds of the Season: