Saturday, June 9, 2018

Michigan Side Trip (29May-05Jun2018)

Work has been absolutely killing me the past 10 days with only 1 day home and the rest at conferences and client meetings.  However, I did manage to get away for a quick foray into Michigan while at a conference in Chicago.

First a couple pics from home...

Blue Dasher on the boxwood in my front yard.

I watched this Eastern Pondhawk attack and kill a Damselfly from my office window.

I drove a long distance to get to the Jack Pine forest in Michigan where Kirtland's Warblers breed and got to a spot where one was recently reported.  I did not expect to get one but even at 8pm it was singing loud and clear and I got some brief but good looks.

Kirtland's Warbler - I expected to re-find this bird and others the next morning but as fate would have it, I heard plenty but never got one to cooperate for a better pic, so this will have to do.  That being said I have great pictures from their wintering grounds in the Bahamas.

Lincoln's Sparrow sitting on a young Jack Pine.

I had a day full of teleconferences and there was a ton of mosquitos so it was a bit nerve wracking trying to find birds while swatting away the mozzies and having to contribute to work conversations. So I didn't get to explore much the second day until evening when I lucked into some more good birds.  It stayed light until 9pm which worked to my advantage.

Pine Siskin

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak!  A long overdue lifer.

RB Grosbeak


I wanted to give him a hug so bad but had some reservations.

Cedar Waxwing

Back home on the one day I had in the "office" I was mowing the lawn when I got treated to a nice home patch bird.

Three Mississippi Kites were circling over my house and I managed this one shot before they flew off.

Sigh.... another crazy workweek ahead but I hope to get some birds in NC soon.  My kids have a soccer tournament in Winston next weekend so maybe I can go mop up a couple species in the mountains.

Monday, May 28, 2018

OBX and the Gulf Stream (24-25May2018)

I pulled one of the more bone-headed things I have done in a while on Thursday but it all worked out in the end.  I had two days of pelagics lined up which is something I look forward to all year and is addictive.  I would go on all of them if I could.  Thursday morning I woke in my hotel at 2am like I usually do the night before a pelagic as my mind is racing with the possibilities, and in my half sleep I must have turned off the alarm while I checked the time.  I woke again at 5:30 am which was 15 minutes after the time the boat was leaving and I was 30 minutes away!  I was sooooo pissed.  That was a $165 mistake.  Apparently the policy for missing the boat is that you lose the money too.  Salt in the wounds.  It's not like the airline industry where they have a similar policy officially but usually allow you to take another flight.

So I made the best of it and spent most of the day at Cape Point.  It ended up being a good day for my  year effort and actually for my NC Life List.

I am terrible with snakes, anyone?

A very pale looking Roseate Spoonbill had been seen the day before at Salt Pond and it did not take long to find it.

This young bird was almost a nicer looking bird compared to the typical adult because the face was missing the nasty facial skin that an adult has.  Kind of the opposite from humans where the teenagers have the nasty facial skin.

The mighty call of the Spoonbill will knock you down if you are too close.

Black Tern on the far side of Salt Pond.

Dunlins look snazzy this time of year.

Black-necked Stilt

Gull-billed Tern

The Roseate had moved down the point and was loosely associating with a Snowy Egret.

My third Bank Swallow for the year flew by at Cape Point.

One of these days a White-winged Tern will show...

Sandwich Tern

Roseate Tern!! A NC life bird.  Note the red legs, black bill and tail streamers extending past the wing tips.

Common on the left, Roseate in middle and I think the one on the right might actually be Forster's but could just be a Common with wings washed out in the light.

Roseate on the left.

I initially reported this as a Brown Booby but the photos are horrible so I changed to Sulid sp.  Dwayne from the mountains was there with me and he also thought Brown Booby.  We did not see any white rump when it banked, but it is possible the light was playing tricks on us.

Later in the afternoon I went up to Pea Island and saw about 20 White-rumps in different spots, but no Baird's.

This silhouette in the heat shimmer had me thinking Ruff, but it was hard to get any detail in the bad lighting.

This view confirmed it was a Red Knot!  Ruff would have white underwing.

King Rail at the campground.

Yet another Bank Swallow in amongst the Barns.

Immature Gannet.

I camped out at the Cape Point campground and had Chucks calling when I woke.  This time I was early for the boat!

We knew we would have Jaegers with the east wind and the first pelagic species ended up being a Pomarine Jaeger chasing an Audubon's Shearwater.   I thought we would have tons of Audubon's later so did not try too hard to get better pics but this ended up being the only one...  Never the less, you can see the white lores which distinguishes it from Manx.

Also the long tail in this pic.

SKUAAA!!  This South Polar Skua came in fast and checked us out for a couple passes then left us as quickly as he came.

We had a ton of the two regular large Storm-petrels in Band-rumped and Leach's.

Leach's SP - evident from the forked tail.

Leach's SP - heart-shaped rump patch.

Wilson's SP

Leach's SP

Ohhhh Chocolatey Pomarine Jaeger!

Another Pom

This pic makes it look like the Pom was chasing the Black-capped but it was actually the other way around.


Another Leach's

Band-Rumped SP

Band-Rumped are getting easier to identify as I learn behavior.  They will alight on the water more than Wilson's which hover more and they have more deliberate and snappy wing beats.

The Black-capped seemed to be all molting.


Arctic Tern!

This poor bird had a bum leg hanging while it flew.

The first of two Trindade Petrels we had fly by.  You need to be ready for this species because they typically pass by very quickly and do not linger around the boat.

Wilson's SPs rafting.

Sooty Shearwater!

El Diablotin as they are called in the Caribbean where they nest.

The second Trinidade Petrel of the day.

Cory's Shearwater

A great day out on the water.  It kills me that the next boat on Saturday got two species of Tropicbird and some other good year birds, but you can't win them all.  I hope to get out again in June sometime.