Friday, April 30, 2021

Beach Beauties, Warblers and a Sleepy Owl (23-28Apr2021)

Yowsers!  I am developing quite a backlog.  When the choice is to go birding in the morning or catch up on the blog, it's usually an easy choice.  However, I must keep up the posts for the throngs of fans that are clamoring for another installment.  So here goes.  This post is LONNNGG but mostly photos so hopefully you can scroll through quickly.

First some beach beauties at the Fort Fisher Spit.

Common Terns are back!

Not sure if this is a "marsh rabbit" or a beach cottontail.

Brown Pelicans are looking spiffy with rich chestnut tones.

Tree Swallows are the ultimate aerialists.

Gull-billed Terns look to be gearing up for nesting at the second turn out.

Still only a few Common Terns mixed in with the hordes of Royals and Sandwiches.

The Royals are looking regal for sure.

Some Sandwich Terns making a love sandwich.

Short-billed Dowitchers are the default Dowitcher on the spit.

Royal Terns making princes and princesses.

This beautiful Iceland Gull showed up out of nowhere!

Male Royal making an offering to any female that will bite.

I see this Iceland has been reported several times since.  So maybe it will stick around.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Laughing Gulls

If I had to pick one bird that represents Southeast North Carolina the best it would be the Painted Bunting.  A coastal specialist that is sure to please the eye not to mention the ear.  The song is beautiful and rich and can easily be picked up by a half deaf, balding 45 year old.  

Last weekend I took a trip up to Mial Plantation Rd and the Neuse River Greenway to get some warbler action.  Unfortunately half of the state's road bikes also made the trip. Most common thing heard on the trail was "ON YOUR LEFT" followed closely by "ON YOUR RIGHT".  Never the less, it is a great place to take a walk and follows the Neuse River for miles.

This Black-and-white Warbler had an incredibly fat tongue.

Just kidding, it was in the last stages of eating this caterpillar.  Here are some shots before it went down the hatch.

Northern Waterthrush - I am getting better at finding birds by listening for them first and then picking them out. I got some nice sound recordings of this one and will post to my eBird list.

Note the very tightly packed streaks on the throat which is a good field mark.  The best way to tell them apart is just the general "jizz" of the bird though (Gestalt is another word).  If I had to describe it, I would say a Northern Waterthrush is slender and elegant.  A Louisiana Waterthrush looks like a Northern that has been working out.  There are other field marks like the contrast between the supercilia and body but I usually nail it without much fuss and a singing one is a no brainer.

Cliff Swallows are back hawking insects in the fields that flank the path. Dorsal View.

And ventral!

I had originally marked this as a Peregrine without much fuss but eBird flagged it so I blew up the picture and lightened it and sure enough its not a Peregrine due to the tail markings.  I believe it is a Merlin which is also flagged in eBird.  Mississippi Kites can also have similarly patterned tails but the underwing is wrong for that species.  I am just not used to seeing Merlins soar without flapping so it threw me off.

Chimney Swifts disappeared when the raptors flew in and then magically re-appeared when they left.

Cliff Swallows rebuilding the nests under the bridge.

Louisiana Waterthrush!  Note the throat free of streaks and the generally heftier look to the bird and bill.

Red-spotted Purple!

I am going with Carolina Satyr on this one.

Dorsal view of the same butterfly

Northern Parula showing some nice Bokeh.

I had been hearing Black-throated Blues but this was the first one to show itself.

I am going with Juvenal's Duskywing on this one.

Hooded Warblers abounded.

I said goodbye to my cliff dwelling friends and headed over to Mid Pines rd.

Blue Grosbeaks are not cooperating for photos lately but I am sure I will crush one soon.

Everyone loves a Bobolink!

I looked for Grasshopper Sparrows with no luck.

Palm Warbler

Tree Swallow

Melissa took a nice stroll with me one evening after work at Rogersville Rd on the Cross City Trail.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Great Crested Flycatcher 

I don't usually see Little Blue Herons in trees..

Male Orchard Oriole

Female - unfortunately Wilmington is getting razed for housing and these poor birds are in for a rude awakening as this whole area is being clear cut.

First of the year Eastern Kingbird

An early morning jaunt to Governor's rd in Brunswick County yielded some more year birds.

Indigo Bunting

Yellow-breasted Chat

Prairie Warbler

Northern Bobwhite! Easy to hear but hard to photograph, I was grateful to see these.  I couldn't get closer as they were behind a closed gate on private land.

males and females

American Crow and BMC - I got audio this time.

A couple days ago I visited a friend in Brunswick County to get some looks at a nesting Screech Owl.  No exact location given.

While waiting for the owl, I snapped this Pine Warbler.

When Hootie finally poked her head out, she was a bit startled to see me standing there.

But quickly went back into snooze mode.

She pokes her head out when the temperature gets above 80 degrees.

Ok that's a wrap.  I am heading to the mountains over the weekend and I can hardly wait!