Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Mountain of Plovers or a Mountain Plover? (28-31Jan2016)

As I alluded to in the last post, I had a good bird to chase this weekend and many of you know by now it is a Mountain Plover.  The first record of a Mountain Plover in North Carolina!  First let us cover a few local birds:

Eastern Phoebe - the pumper of tails.

An out of season Prairie Warbler is a nice way to brighten your day.

American Oystercatcher - an amazing bird in every respect except one.  Their flesh colored legs..... If they were black they would not look so awkward.

Among the shorebird flocks at Federal Rocks were a pair of Green-winged Teal.

Marbled Godwit

Forster's and Royal Tern

Tricolored Heron - I am pretty sure I see more than three colors.

Snowy Egret - nothing like some cold and windy weather to make the birds not give a damn about being photographed.

Horned Grebe

The female Canvasback is still hanging out at the Aquarium pond.

Bufflehead Female

House Wren

House Finch

Rock Pigeon - I can see why Mike Tyson loves pigeons.  They love, they fight and they live in cities.

More often than not they fight.

But sometimes they chill out.

Back to the target bird for Saturday... I somehow managed to get on the first boat out to Core Banks near Atlantic, NC with a small group of friends from Wilmington.  The plan was to find the Mountain Plover quickly with our scopes and then stake it out for the next couple groups that were coming.  However, it didn't work out that way.  Full disclosure, we did not find the Mountain Plover after combing the beach for hours.  We did however find some other birds...

Highly cropped Long-billed Curlew - although this photo sucks, you can see the long thin bill and the somewhat plain looking head.  A Whimbrel would have an obvious supercilium and a Godwit would have a decurved bill.

Long-billed Curlews are super rare in NC although the Core Banks are one of the best places to find them.  This bird was skittish and did not let us get close.

Least Sandpiper

Mr. Piping Plover, where is your cousin?

Red Knots and Sanderling

There was tons and tons of Black-Bellied Plover - about 500-600.  So its possible the Mountain Plover was blending in, but more likely the North wind had the bird hunkered down some place different.  I will have to try again next weekend.  A group that went today did find the bird and it was a South wind.

Surf Scoters on the way back in.

4 of us headed to Cedar Island to see if anything was hanging around that rarity magnet.

An American Bittern was a nice surprise.

I love to watch a Bittern hunt, this guy was a dancing fool.

Sea Otter!

Sunday.... What a beautiful day!!! High 60s and sunny, low wind....

After dropping Melissa at the airport, the boys and I took a drive to the beach but stopped at Blue Clay Rd on the way.  As promised by Dave W, there was American Pipit in the fields on the side of the road.

American Pipit - I tried to convince the bird to cross the road so it would not be backlit but he wasn't having it.

At the beach everyone was enjoying the weather including this Short-billed Dowitcher.  In my experience the best field mark is the tail pattern.  If there is more white than dark, then you have a SB.

Lesser Yellowlegs - it can be difficult to differentiate Greater from Lesser, but this bird was standing next to a SB Dowitcher and a Willet and was about the same size albeit longer legs than the Dowitcher.  The Willet dwarfed it.

SB Dowitcher

Luke - always deep in thought.

George always the clown.

RB Merganser

At Oleander Gardens we stopped to try for a Brown Creeper.  No luck but we picked up some photographic year birds.

Blue Jay

I hate to end with such a poor picture but it was my last bird for the week and it didn't stick around for better pics - Baltimore Oriole.

Tomorrow is supposed to be 70!  I have to work but I might get in an hour or two of birding.  January was a good month.  February has potential if the Mountain Plover sticks around and my Pelagic on the 20th produces a rarity.  Can I dream of Puffins out loud or will that jinx it?

Hope everyone is doing well.  Life is good....

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Steady Progress (24-26Jan2016)

Over the past week and even past couple days I have made steady progress towards another photographic year even if the pictures are substandard.  I just love getting out and birding.  A couple of these photos are actually from last week and I somehow missed posting them.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - the other cute East Coast bird.  Found at Wade Park.

Red Knots and a Sanderling - the Coquina Rocks at Ft. Fisher.

Golden-crowned Kinglets are not easy to photograph and usually are found higher up than RC Kinglets.  This was at the Holly Shelter Marina.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Holly Shelter.

I combed through hundreds of Tree Swallows in the duck impoundments to see if I could find a Cave Swallow but they were all Trees.

I am pathetic with bird songs and calls, but I think I have Gray Catbird down now.

Red-headed Woodpecker - Holly Shelter.

Another Blue-headed Vireo - I have been seeing them everywhere lately.

I consider myself a Larophile or someone that enjoys gulls.  This was an immature or first winter Ring-billed Gull at Johnny Mercer's Pier.  Gulls have so much variation that even if you become an expert birder, gulls will always challenge you.  Not only do they have 1st, 2nd and 3rd year plumages, but they also hybridize extensively.

The ocean was on fire one of the mornings.  I could really enjoy watching the sun rise every day.

Grumpy Great-blue Heron

Early morning Mourning Dove

The South end of Wrightsville Beach has been hosting a ton of gulls in the mornings.  However so far its the same old cast.

I have been diligently looking for Herring Gulls in adult plumage with dark irises and darker pink legs which would lead me to look further for a Thayer's.  I have also been checking all the Ring-billed Gulls for one with a clean yellow bill for a possible Mew Gull.  No luck yet.


Hooded Merganser at Airlie Gardens

Black-crowned Night Heron

Mute Swan

Canada Goose

American Wigeon

This weekend, the possibility for a good chase has presented itself.   Stay tuned.