Saturday, January 31, 2015

More of the Same (30-31Jan2015)

I have been going to Johnny Mercer's Pier religiously lately to try and get Common Eider or Razorbill or even Eared Grebe.  However it has been the same cast of characters with the exception of the Dovekie on Thursday.

Yesterday Greg, Harry, Dave and I birded Johnny Mercer in the evening hoping to get Dovekie again. Harry wants a better picture for his life photography list.  Unfortunately some hooligans messed with one of the grates on the pier the night before so they had it closed.  However, after ocean watching for some time from the base of the pier, Dave got a dovekie in the scope.  Of course it took off before Harry could get a shot.

Today I met Harry down at the pier again and we tried for a couple hours with no luck.

Some pics from the past two days:

Northern Gannet

Horned Grebe

Common Loon

The resident Long-tailed Duck.

In the evening the family and I took a walk through CB State Park looking for owls.  We heard 3-4 Eastern Screech Owls and Melissa found a nesting Great Horned Owl.  I am going to go back tomorrow and attempt some pictures.  The owl was laying flat on the nest but his/her horns were sticking out one end and tail out the other.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dovekies are so cute (29Jan2015)

After work I made my way back down to Johnny Mercer's Pier in Wrightsville Beach again.  I was still smarting from the fact that I was going to go this morning but an unexpected work call popped up and I missed the Razorbill that Gilbert G (no not Grape) posted.

The same Long-tailed Duck was still hanging out when I got to the pier.

Long-tailed Duck

Also present was a good candidate for Pacific Loon but it was too far to be certain without a scope.

Ruddy Turnstone

Then as I was leaving, just before the sun was completely down, I noticed a small gull acting erratically and then caught a very small diving bird that did not look like the usual grebes. I know Bonaparte's frequently hassle Razorbills for scraps and then I got a better look.  Dovekie!!


Here is the saintly gull that lead me to the Dovekie.  So then I thought to myself, this gull is so small, maybe it is something interesting.  My faulty logic was if a Bonaparte's hassles Razorbills maybe Little Gull's hassle Dovekies.

No such luck, it was a Bonaparte.

My little Dovekie friend was actively diving and checking me out.  It the light was better I could have had amazing pictures.

Dovekie doing his best Batman impersonation.

Great times.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WB Sunset (28Jan2015)

Went to WB for sunset this evening.  I love it when it's cold and no one is around.  I had the whole pier to myself.  Plenty of birds moving around but nothing earth shattering.

Northern Gannet

No matter how many pictures I took of this Long-tailed Duck, I could not get a decent photo.  I blame it mostly on the duck as this one was not particularly attractive.

Roseate Pelican - ok so it's not a new species, it's just a Brown Pelican with a sunset reflection.

I am going to keep making a trip once a day until I get me an Eider.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

One Fail and one Win (26-27Jan2015)

After seeing a Glaucous Gull sighting on Rich Inlet posted by Derb I shot an email over to Shun to see if he was game to go on the chase.  Shun lives in that area and has a boat and was even willing to wait until I got off work to motor out there and check it out.

Long story short, we did not find the gull.  There were hundreds of gulls to sift through but none that looked like a white winged gull.  However it was a beautiful evening and I was amazed we were the only ones out enjoying it.

As a consolation we had a Cooper's Hawk on a tree off the side of Pages Creek.

Cooper's Hawk - not the best photo but the boat was still moving.

Then today before work I went down to Johnny Mercer's pier to see if I could score the Pacific Loon that Derb had or the Common Eider Sherry had over the weekend.  The pier proved uneventful so I headed to the South End or Masonboro Inlet.


Red-breasted Merganser male

I was sifting through all the loons of which there was many and some quite close in.

Common Loon

Then I saw one that was smaller but definitely not a Red-throated Loon.

It had a dark back with a well defined line delineating the white and black of the neck.  It's bill was held horizontally, and as you probably know Red-throated Loons typically hold their bill at an upward angle.  In this particular photo he was fluffing his feathers which is why you can see the white on flanks.

In this photo you can see the bird in center left of the frame is smaller and more elegant than the chunky looking Common Loons.  The Common Loons have more of a white cheek patch as well and their heads are not as smooth and rounded.  Its hard to see in the pictures, but the back of his head was a dark gray compared to the black of his forehead and back.

I am convinced this bird was a Pacific Loon and I am calling it that.  I would be interested if anyone disagrees, although I know these pictures are not great.

Hopefully he will be around again later this week.  I would like to get my kayak out so I can get closer pictures and in better light.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Have to Love NC! (24-25Jan2015)

Back home after my trip to Alberta and although the birds are a little less exotic (for me at least) I still love coming home.

This particular photo is from the 19th before my trip but I just wanted to get Surf Scoter off my list.  I will hopefully get much better photos later.  Actually if you are a photo buff, skip to the very end of this post for the only decent photos (Le Conte's Sparrow).  Since I have been birding early before work or late after work the light conditions have been poor and my camera still sucks.

Surf Scoter - female or immature.  There have been big numbers of Scoters at the Coquina Overlook at Fort Fisher but the sun is usually right behind them so they have been frustrating me with pictures.

Saturday I went back to Coquina to get the Black Scoter.  Now I just need to track a White-wing down.  I know some folks have seen them but I have not yet this year.

Black Scoter

The rocks at Federal Point had a nice assortment of shorebirds sitting on the jetty at high tide.

Marbled Godwits, Willets, American Oystercatchers and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Garbled Mobwits are known to induce convulsions.

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe - love these birds as they change plumage so much and keep you guessing.

Forster's Tern and Laughing Gull.

The Common Goldeneye at the Aquarium pond was still around.

Sunday my amazing wife let me take a day at North River Farms.  Thanks Sweetums.

We started at 7 am and what a beautiful day!  A little chilly but sun and no wind which is ideal for North River birds like the sparrows.

One of the first birds of the day was a Clay-colored Sparrow! Always a good bird.

Clear breast, buffy supercilium and whitish crown stripe.

Keep in mind this bird was not very close so I had to crop these photos heavily.

This Clay-colored got shot out of a cannon.

There was hundreds of Savannah Sparrows.

Hundreds of Swamp Sparrows.

Swamp Sparrow

We had plenty of Song Sparrows too but for some reason I didn't get a picture.

This Redhead flew by solo.

We had several Orange-crowned Warblers including one that was quite accommodating.

Apparently Tree Swallows grow on trees.

Tree Swallows - I dare you to count how many in frame.

Tree Swallows - I should have taken video, a spectacle to behold.

We flushed up an American Bittern and luckily I was able to snap a picture before Jack's big head got in the way.

Wilson's Snipe - who knows if I will get a chance to get amazing pictures like last year during the ice storm.  So I was snapping away as we flushed them hoping to get a discernible picture.  I think this one is diagnostic - well defined white belly framed by dark tail and bib.

Then the bird of the day:

Le Conte's Sparrow - we almost overlooked this little guy.

In the flooded fields we had plenty of Yellow-legs (both) and two Long-billed Dowitchers.

Bill long enough for you?  John says he always gets Long-billed on the farm, almost never SB.

Look away if you hate hideous pictures. The next one is only a recording shot.

In the center of the frame, you can see the dark tail indicative of a Long-billed Dowitcher as he landed.  Finally, John thinks he heard the distinctive call mixed in with the Yellow-legs when we flushed them.

Palm Warbler

On the way home I passed the resident Sandhill Cranes at Beaufort Airport.

Sandhill Cranes - the second group I have seen this year already!

A digiscoped photo with my iPhone of the Long-billed Dowitchers from earlier.

Great times!