Wednesday, March 21, 2018

100 Percent (18-21Mar2018)

This is the first year where I have achieved the 100% goal in terms of birds photographed versus seen.  Usually I have 20-30 birds this early in the season that are on my eBird seen list but have not photographed.  Later in the year I close that gap to 4-5 birds.  The one bird I needed to achieve the 100% target was Clapper Rail which was surprising since usually I can easily photograph one.  Here are some of the photos from this week.

Vesper Sparrow at Fort Macon State Park.  Sunday was spent up in Carteret County with the North River Gang.  We started with some sea watching at Atlantic Beach and then Marty and I checked the Fort Macon bathhouse for the ongoing Vesper and I finally got it after my third attempt.

Blue-headed Vireo at Pine Knoll Shores.

Shortly after noon we boarded a boat to explore the waters around Cape Lookout. The idea was to motor out to Shark Island and look for rare gulls and alcids but the shoals were difficult to navigate due to the wind and tide so ended up sticking around Shackleford.

The mighty bellow of a Great Cormorant is enough to knock a sailor overboard.

I have never seen a Great Cormorant in such stunning breeding plumage as these ones.  I didn't even know they could get white feathers on the nape like that.

First of the year Red Knots!

Worst picture ever but notable as it is not common to witness birds coming in from migration over the sea.  This Green Heron was seen flying in straight towards us from the ocean and was undoubtedly a migrant coming in from wintering grounds in the Caribbean.

We saw some of the largest flocks of Red-breasted Mergansers, Horned Grebes and Scoters I have ever seen in the waters south and east of Shack.  I spotted three Long-tailed Ducks which was a county bird for some of us.

Also notable were two Common Eiders north of Shack.

Yesterday evening before it started to pour, I saw this Gray Ghost (male Harrier) at Wrightsville Beach.

This pic is a female or immature Northern Harrier from this morning at Fort Fisher.

And FINALLY........

The long awaited 100%er - Clapper Rail at Fort Fisher.

This Blue-winged Teal at the Airfare Recreation Pier was a county year bird.

Next week - COLORADO!  Can't wait to watch the famous Greater Sage Grouse do the funky chicken dance.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

March Doldrums (04-17Mar2018)

March is a slow month for year birds, but sometimes a good vagrant shows up.

A trip to Myrtle Beach for my son's soccer allowed me a 10 minute stop at Twin Lakes in Sunset Beach, NC.

Common Gallinules abound at Twin Lakes.  No Wood Storks yet.

This Killdeer at the soccer fields picked a bad spot to lay eggs.  Right in the middle of a field between two soccer games.

I made a bad choice in going birding this one morning when the waves were pumping.    I didn't have enough time to head home for my board before work.

Adult male Cooper's Hawk.

The Northern Rough-winged Swallows are back at the Battleship in Wilmington!!

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are the earliest migrants to come through.  This one on Lee Buck Rd in Brunswick County.

Any snake experts out there? This was a relatively small one, maybe 16 inches.

I was on an important work teleconference when this Painted Bunting showed up at my front yard feeder.  I hope my client didn't hear by camera shutter.

Wednesday night I drove to Charlotte and checked into a hotel so I could try for the Black-headed Grosbeak that was reported to be coming to a feeder set up.  I had calls all morning so my window was small.  After one and a half hours, it showed up and posed nicely.

A state bird for me.

Jeff L told me about an easy Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nearby so off I went.

Sitting near the nest as promised.

Someone reported an interesting goose in Wilmington so as soon as I got home from Charlotte I went to check it out.

Turned out to be a Blue Phase Snow Goose. Kind of a weird looking one.

Bald Eagle flying over my house.

Little Blue Heron at CB Lake.

Seaside Sparrow at Fort Fisher

Nelson's Sparrow

Saltmarsh Sparrow

A large flock of Scaup flying by at Fort Fisher.

Wilson's Plovers are back at the spit.


Savannah Sparrow

Finally the Eared Grebe at the Fort Fisher Airforce base pier.  It was super far out and loosely hanging around some Horned Grebes which gave a nice contrast.  Head more peaked, smaller in general and dark neck.

A good comparison which shows size difference between Horned Grebe on left and Eared on right.

Loggerhead Shrike at my son's soccer game in Wilmington today.

Fish Crows are plentiful but super smart and getting them to stay still for my crappy video function on my camera is not easy.  Here you can hear the classic Uh Un call.  Ignore the Laughing Gulls, the crow only called once amid the Laughing Gulls.