Friday, September 23, 2016

Warblember - 16-23Sept2016

I am submitting an online petition to rename September as Warblember.  I love this time of year.  The contrast between the doldrums of summer and the migrating birds of the fall is a sure fire way to re-invigorate your life.  I don't really get that contrast in the Spring because the Winter is pretty good for birding too.

Ocola Skipper

Winter plumage Chestnut-sided Warbler.

Common Yellowthroat in confusing fall plumage.

This past weekend I took my annual pilgrimage to Jackson Park in Hendersonville.

Northern Waterthrushes are a lock at Jackson Park but sometimes difficult to photograph.  Believe it or not this is a new bird for my year photographic effort.

The streaky throat is the ID clincher.  Louisiana Waterthrush has a clear throat or at least not as dense streaking.

This wren has seen better days.

I saw so many Magnolia Warblers but didn't manage to get any decent photos.

Diagnostic black tail tip for Magnolia Warbler.

Common Buckeye

Saturday afternoon I finally experienced the event I have been wishing for all my birding life.  I have seen fallout before at High Island in Texas, but I have never seen a proper migration event at Ridge Junction on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is the stuff of legend.  I have read about people seeing thousands of warblers and other birds funneling up the North face of the Black Mountains ridge near Mt Mitchell during one of these events, but I always wondered if they were exaggerated accounts.  Well now I can say they are everything they are cracked up to be.  What typically happens is the birds migrating South all funnel from the Northwest and Northeast up to Ridge Junction where the ridges meet and then the birds have nowhere left go to but over the ridge.  Usually these events are first thing in the morning.  However, this time I lucked into it at 3pm.  Actually it was not typical in that the birds were traveling along the parkway and not just up and over.

Cape May Warbler - I saw hundreds of these.

Cedar Waxwings

Tennessee Warbler

Golden-crowned Kinglets were all over

This Empidonax flycatcher was interesting.  It had some yellow wash to it but I think it was probably a Traill's Flycatcher (Alder/Willow).

The eye-ring was minimal.

Black-throated Blue female.

Another Cape May.

Brown Creeper - master of camouflage.

I am going with Mimic Crescent for this one.  I zoomed it and it appears to be a male (blunt abdomen tip) and if I zoom in all the way, the underside of the "clubs" appear to be orange.  I can't be sure though.

Common Raven

American Lady

Saturday night I was planning on camping at the Mt. Mitchell campground but apparently they only have 9 spots and they were taken.  I asked the ranger where was the closest place to camp and he directed me to Commissary Ridge about 1.7 miles from the summit on a trail.  It was not a fun hike because I had not brought my pack and had to carry all my gear in separate bags: camera, sleeping bag, tent, food bag.  However I made it before dark and had a huge flock of warblers and kinglets moving all around my camp site.  It was a beautiful spot but a bunch of stoners were laughing like crazy which was kind of annoying.  Just before dark a Northern Saw-whet Owl did a couple toots and then promptly stopped before I could record it.

In the morning I finally got a picture of a nemesis photograph bird.  I have seem my fair share of Bay-breasted Warblers but have never been able to photograph one.

Bay-breasted Warbler - greenish yellow sides of neck and two prominent wing bars.

Another view.

Black-throated Blueberry Warbler

Right around this time I had a female Ruffed Grouse calling but never got a photo op.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The birding in the morning was not nearly as good and the previous afternoon.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Worst picture ever of a Swainson's Thrush but the diagnostic buffy eye-ring is visible.

Meadow Fritillary

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Back in Wilmington during the week a Mourning Warbler was reported at Burnt Mill Creek, so I went.

A few Common Yellowthroats had me second guessing, but I never did see any convincing bird.

Another presumed Traill's Flycatcher - short primary projection.

I think this was a Hummingbird Moth, but I am not sure.

Great times...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Franklin's Gull - 15Sep2016

A walk on the beach for sunset is almost always nice, but it's twice as nice when a Franklin's Gull is hanging out.  It did not take long to notice this odd looking bird.  He was even facing the wrong way.

Franklin's Gull among a huge flock of Gulls and Terns hunkered down into the NE wind.

Here you can really see the size difference with the Laughing Gulls and specifically the more dainty bill.

Plenty of other distractions including this tasty Sandwich Tern.

Royal Tern - Hail Caesar!

Is it me or is a Franklin's cute?  Maybe it's the molting primaries that make it look dump and alcid like.

Yeah I know, I took too many pictures.

The mighty bellow of a Franklin's Gull has been known to knock a full grown man backwards.

Nice bill comparison.

He/she never flew off while I was there.  I got real close by moving only an inch a minute then backed away the same way.

Hmmm, wings on this Common Tern looked a little white to me.

Try as I might, I think it's a Common Tern and not something more interesting.

I love living at the beach...