Monday, October 31, 2016

American Goodness (24-31Oct2016)

We have many good birds in America.  American White Pelican is a good bird.  American Bitterns are nice too.  I was tempted to go to the OBX this weekend to get my missing American White Pelican for my year list but I could not muster the fortitude necessary to drive 5 hours one way only to to it again later in the day.  I figured I would see one sooner or later at Fort Fisher or at Davis Impoundment up near North River.

Have you ever used iNaturalist?  What a cool app.  I posted a picture of the below snake and someone had identified it in less than an hour.

Redbelly Snake

The Fort Fisher Ferry parking lot has been really active.

Pine Warblers are shape changing birds that can morph into looking like over 20 species.  This one was trying to morph into a Bay-breasted or something but I had him pegged.

Then he tried to morph into a Nashville and I just laughed at him.  He would no longer trick me, or at least today.

Prairie Warbler

Painted Buntings can be the most ridiculously conspicuous birds, but they can also bee extremely camouflaged in female or juvenile plumage.  Why more bird species have not adapted to have green feathers is strange.

White-eyed Vireos are frequently taken for granted.

Lone Blue-winged Teal - The aquarium pond has been pretty bleak lately, maybe due to the large Alligator.  Or maybe it takes a decent flock to feel safe enough from the legions of hawks and falcons that have been hanging out.

Gulf Fritillary

Marsh Wren

If Turkey Vultures did not plunge their bald heads in the rotting cavities of dead animals, they would be more appreciated for what they are - graceful fliers with beautiful flight feathers.

Some Savannah Sparrows lack the diagnostic yellow lores.

Another Prairie Warbler

Keeping an eye on the skies.  They are full of raptors.

This American Avocet has been hanging on the spit for the past week.

American Pipits are good birds which do not present good photographic targets very often.  This bird was not about to change the trend.

This poor White-rumped Sandpiper was playing possum.  Or maybe he was just beat.

A passing Peregrine had him wake up alright.

I don't see White-rumped SPs very often, but when I do, I prefer juvenile birds with plenty of color.

Red-tailed Hawk

Sunday I took the early morning drive to join John, Martha, Jack and Marty at North River Farms.

Marty managed much better pics of this Coyote than I did.

The real target was Le Conte's Sparrow which is sometimes found at the farm in the right habitat.  This year the habitat was limited and not ideal as the Coastal Federation is letting the farm grow back.  This is not good for Le Conte's which is already very scarce in NC.

Marty called me over, he had a yellow headed sparrow and based on the habitat I was sure it was a Le Conte's.  But here is the catch, if I had seen this bird on the beach or in the salt marsh, I would have called it a Nelson's Sparrow.  It turns out it was actually a Nelson's.  Bah humbug!

Skulky Nelson's Sparrow in the wrong habitat.

Belted Kingfisher

American Bittern

American Bittern x Chicken hybrid.

Of course we missed American White Pelican at Davis Impoundment.

Back in Wilmington I visited Fort Fisher on Halloween morning.

This adult Cooper's Hawk obviously was not reading the signs, or he just didn't give a shit.

Can you see it?  A Peregrine Falcon was sitting on the channel marker way out next to the Ferry route.  Jelmer from Chapel Hill pointed it out.

Out on Pelican Island something got them all stirred up and then I noticed there was some unusually large white birds in the middle of the bunch.

You can just make out 8 American White Pelicans in the middle of the frame just launching off the water surface.

Booyah!  hmm..... Now what to get?  Someone find something rare.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Merlins and Merlin Fodder (19-22Oct2016)

Hello Birders,

Some good local birding has been had the past few days.  If you are squeamish, you might want to navigate to some more tame blog about puppy dogs or something.

This poor Painted Bunting lives in constant fear of Merlins.

This Marbled Godwit is probably safe from Merlins, but Peregrines are happy to step in and pick up the Merlin slack.

Magnolia Warblers at Greenfield Lake fear Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Pileated Woodpecker at Greenfield.

You would think a Pileated tongue would not be so skinny but they are.

I have heard Preying Mantises can kill hummingbirds, but I would think this little species would have trouble with a hummingbird. Never the less, I flicked him off my feeder.

I took a ton of pictures of this hummingbird because it was pumping it's tail.  It also had quite a bit of coppery color on it's belly.

I know that Black-chinned hummingbirds pump their tails so I was very interested.

Any guesses?

Saturday after Soccer and a brunch at Jester's, I headed to Fort Fisher for a drive on the spit.  I lucked into several Merlins including two of the most photogenic Merlins I have ever seen.

Merlin with prey

Least Sandpiper quaking in his little yellow legs.

Western Sandpiper


Forster's Tern - easy ID with the fully framed eye patch.

Black-bellied Plover


American Avocet - we get these occasionally at Fort Fisher.  Much more common on the OBX.

So elegant

Another Merlin - look at those talons of death and destruction.

What an awesome day too.  70 degrees and crisp!  I have to admit though, a little jealous of all the folks on the OBX for Wings over Water.