Saturday, December 23, 2017

Rounding out 2017 (03-23Dec2017)

For the past few months I have been birding but kind of half-heartedly as there is no way I will reach my mark from last year for NC birds.  Here are some random birds from the past several weeks.

I have been trying to photograph the Common Gallinule at the little pond to the west of the Fort Fisher Aquarium but every time I get there he/she flies around the bushes.  These Blue-winged Teal were brave enough to withstand my crusher.

Clouded Sulphur

Luke showing the upper wings.

A young Cooper's Hawk drying it's wings after a rain.

Common Eider at Johnny Mercer.

Red-throated Loon

Yellow-breasted Chat at the Cross City Trail

Little Blue Heron at Fort Fisher Federal Rocks

Little Blue and a Tricolored

Prairie Warbler

I got excited when I saw this vireo thinking maybe it is the Bell's that was here several months ago.  It wasn't.

This male Baltimore Oriole has been visiting my feeders in my front yard and enjoying the Holly as well.

Fort Fisher Aquarium Ruddy Duck

My first Christmas Bird Count for the season was the Carteret County count.  I was assigned the west end of Shackleford.  It was a beautiful day but the birds were a bit scant.

I did end up getting 10 Piping Plover which was good because the other counters only got one.

Sam C called me from his count area at Bird Shoal and suggested I check the channel marker in the inlet.  He thought he saw a Great Cormorant which is a good bird for this count.

He was right! I was surprised he could see it from Bird Shoal which was pretty far.  This was an adult bird.

While waiting on the dock for the boat pick-up, I watched a family unit of dolphins playing just a couple yards out.

 The Sandhill Cranes were back at the Beaufort Airport.   I believe they are the same birds that come back every year since 2009.

At the Ruff spot we had a nice flock of ducks including these Redheads.

Some of the Ruddy Ducks were looking sharp.

Finally I decided to go chase some birds for my year list since I was sick of seeing them show up on my emailed alerts.  Up in Greensboro and Winston Salem there was an easy 4 birds to add to my year list.  First up was Lake Townsend where I found the recurring Red-necked Grebe and Common Merganser but they were super far out and my pics were horrendous so I will spare you those.  Some people like to use scopes but I just get frustrated as photos are impossible and the amount of detail you see on the birds is minimal.

I also found a Ross's Goose in amounts a large flock of Canadas. They also were super far out but you can just make out the small white goose here.

Next up I met John H from Winston at the famous Archie Elledge Wastewater Treatment Plant.  I had never been and you kind of have to know someone in order to get in.

Fox Sparrows were everywhere.

We looked hard for the Cackling Goose but couldn't find it in the 100 plus geese in the ponds.  However, John had an ace up his sleeve and we visited a nearby field and bingo!

Cackling with some Canadas.

The money shot!

It was all worth it for these shots.  My previous shots of Cackling Geese are sub-standard.

We will see if I can add any more birds for the year.  Probably not.  However, you know I will make a good try next year.  I am hoping for a winter pelagic which will be nice.  In 2017 the boat was being fixed so there were no winter pelagics.  Add some of these winter ocean birds to the missed warblers I had these year and it explains how I fell short of last years totals.  Not to mention I went to Cuba, Norway, Iceland, Texas and New York this year which took away from time in NC.  One of these days I will take the crown, but it might have to wait until my kids are in college.

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