The wave forecast looked decent and the Pacific Golden-Plover was still hanging out at Salt Pond on the OBX so I woke up early (2am) and headed out Saturday to test my luck. The plan was to bag the Pacific Golden and then surf for a couple hours before taking the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke and then to Cedar Island so I could listen for Black Rails. Of course the best laid plans rarely unfurl as anticipated. Thankfully the first part of the plan worked like a charm. I made it to Salt Pond around 7:30 am and although it was already hot and sunny, the light was not bad. Slowly making my way around the sections of Salt Pond that you can walk around, I ran into many Spotted Sandpipers.
Sunday, July 18, 2021
Thursday, July 15, 2021
I had some airline miles to burn and was looking at possibilities a month or so ago when I noticed direct flights have started from ILM to Boston's Logan. My brother lives in Portland, ME and its been a couple years since we saw them so I scheduled the trip for a long weekend. Our departure was on the day that Tropical Storm Elsa was hitting but somehow the plane took off and we made it with no delays. Our first day there was a total wash due to Elsa but we connected with family and played some Risk. On Saturday we did more family activities including stand-up paddle boarding around a lighthouse and some mushroom foraging. The latter was unsuccessful in turning up some choice edibles but we did find some things.
On Sunday we took our big hike in the mountains about 2 hours north of Portland. Old Speck Mountain is Maine's fifth highest peak at only 4160 feet, but it felt a lot higher than our mountains in NC. This is because the alpine zone starts at much lower elevation in Maine. I was targeting 4 lifers that live in that zone and I have dipped on previously. White-winged Crossbill, Bicknell's Thrush, Black-backed Woodpecker and Spruce Grouse. I ended up doing pretty well.
The trail itself was a section of the Appalachian Trail and was pretty challenging with lots of steep steps through dense spruce fir forest so there was not much birding on the way up until the canopy starting opening up into the alpine zone. I did however hear tons of vireos and thrushes singing but the wrong kinds.
As we got about 3 miles into the hike my brother spotted our first Bicknell's.
Monday, July 5, 2021
It's officially summer and the doldrums have set in. Its taking a ton of chasing just to find one or two year birds and no-one seems to be finding anything rare with the exception of tons of Roseate Spoonbills being seen all over the state. After my last huge dip for Black Rail at Cedar Island, I was looking for a quick win and headed to Brunswick County to pick up a Roseate Spoonbill.
Round two of the Black Rail search began at Cedar Island pre-dawn on Saturday. I walked about a mile on the causeway while Matthew W walked from the other direction. Between the two of us we covered a couple miles of insect ridden marsh with no luck.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
In the morning I had the chance to take a couple hours and hunt some species that I needed for my life list. When using the Target Species tool on eBird, I could see woodpeckers were my main target. Most of the sightings for these species were north of Bend near Sisters. But that was a good hour drive. So I made the lazy and wrong call of going back to Shevlin Park as some of the species did have hits there.
Shevlin was definitely birdy, but I didn't have anything new.
A couple of hours evaporated into the ether and I headed back to pick up the family and rejoin the caravan for the ride back to Eugene. Our in-laws had planned one more hike in the Cascades half way back and we also stopped one more time in Sisters for some coffee and so the ladies could check out some of the shops. I searched hard for Pinyon Jays and Woodpeckers but came up empty again.