Sunday, March 26, 2017

Unauthorized Alien (25-26Mar2017)

Sam C found an unauthorized alien from Europe on Friday hanging out on the north end of Wrightsville Beach.  I convinced him to hold back on calling immigration until I got a chance to see him.  I was in Carolina Beach when Sam found it right before dark so I didn't even attempt to chase.  However, I did get up at 5 am Saturday and headed down so I could get past the marathon start at 6:40 am.  When I got to the north end of the beach, it was still dark but I could see a huge congregation of gulls so I posted up and waited.  Dawn the Rosy-fingered crept up into the eastern sky and I was quickly able to pick out this snazzy interloper.

Black-headed Gull on right with much lighter mantle.

Unfortunately he did not stay long.  One it became light enough he took off to go forage in the marsh.   I hope to see him again in better light.

There was a ton of other birds so I stuck around.

Black Skimmers, Royal Tern and Forster's Terns.

A couple Least Terns were back.

Barn Swallow

After the beach I went to Airlie Gardens and took a nice walk.  As I was looking through a mess load of Cedar Waxwings on the group feeding on palm berries, I noticed tanager with a red face!  A Western Tanager male!  I bent over to put my coffee down and spun my camera around but it was gone with the flighty flock of Waxwings.  ARGhhh....

American Kestrel seen on side of road on my way home.


Blue-winged Teal at Ashley HS pond.  Now the only regular duck I need a picture for in New Hanover County is a Shoveler.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Epic Failure (12-19Mar2017)

Some of my more faithful readers might remember an ill fated trip I took a couple years ago to the mountains where I had 4-5 target birds that were regularly being seen and I ended up missing all of them.  Nothing says failure like 10 plus hours of driving with nothing to show for it.

Fast forward to this week and I decided that with the Rufous Hummingbird in Durham looking so snazzy I might as well go up to RTP and try for a few missing year birds.  First things first, a couple birds from earlier in the week and last weekend.

Eastern Bluebird at Airlie Gardens.

Wild Turkey off Kerr Rd near the airport.

House Wren at Burnt Mill Creek

Pied-billed Grebe at Burnt Mill

This was a first for me, 4 Read-headed WPs feeding on fallen acorns.  I have 2 together but never 3-4.

Someone reported a Yellow-crowned Night-heron at Airlie but I only found Black-crowns.

Blue-gray Gnatsmasher

When I first laid eyes on this little guy I thought I had myself a rare hummingbird.  The area under the gorget looking buffy and he looked so small and plump.  Turns out he was just freezing and trying to get warm.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Fox Squirrel at CB State Park.

The last of the "easy" owls in New Hanover - Barred Owl at Burnt Mill Creek.

Tree Swallows are back at Greenfield Lake - I know horrible picture.  Don't worry dear reader, I will get better ones later.

Sunday dawned beautifully and I started my day at Brian P's house looking for my first target - Purple Finch.

Dark-eyed Junco - amazing to think this was my first Junco of the year.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Hairy Woodpecker

Brown-headed Cowbird

Dip.... Brian had a Purple Finch 5 minutes before I got there and 5 minutes before I left he saw a couple fly by but they never cooperated.

Next target was the Rufous Hummingbird at the Winton's house in Durham.  Dip again.  Apparently he left a couple days earlier or at least no one has seen him.  Just my luck, a bird reliably seen for 4 months departed 2 days before I got there.  The consolation is that meeting Scott's parents was cool.  They are two very nice individuals.

At this point I thought to myself sure I could salvage the day by going to the Coker Arboretum in Chapel Hill and photograph the cooperative Cape May Warbler that has been hanging out near some Camelias.  I beat the bushes and scanned the tree tops for 2 hours and failed to find it.  Later in the evening I saw that someone saw him about 2 hours before I got there.  Arghhh.....

White-breasted Nuthatch

Final stop for the day was Mason Farm for no reason other than to have a nice walk before driving home.  Its harder to be disappointed when you have no real target.

Brown Creeper - this is probably my 5th or 6th creeper for the year!

Winter Wren

Field Sparrow in the foreground and Swamp Sparrow in background.

Field Sparrow

Now that I got a horrendous day of dipping on all my targets out of the way, I am sure my next foray will be more successful.  Its basic laws of statistics right?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) - 11Mar2017

There is a special place in my heart for Loggerhead Shrikes.  They are local in my area, and according to the below Wiki entry they are on the decline.  However, I don't have trouble finding them at ILM airport.

It is nicknamed the butcherbird after its carnivorous tendencies, as it consumes prey such as amphibians, insects, lizards, small mammals and small birds. Due to its small size and weak talons, this predatory bird relies on impaling its prey upon thorns or barbed wire for facilitated consumption. The numbers of Loggerhead Shrike have significantly decreased in recent years, especially in Midwest, New England and Mid-Atlantic areas.

This particular bird is a resident on the east end of Ocean Isle in southeast NC.  He has completely no regard for authority and frequently parks right on top of a No Parking sign.

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) - 10Mar2017

Belted Kingfishers are not easy to photograph but every once in a while one obliges.  This one was at the Battleship in Wilmington, NC.

An interesting tidbit from Wiki:
This kingfisher shows sexual dimorphism, with the female more brightly coloured than the male. Both sexes have a slate blue head, large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white underparts. The back and wings are slate blue with black feather tips with little white dots. The female features a rufous band across the upper belly that extends down the flanks. Juveniles of this species are similar to adults, but both sexes feature the rufous band on the upper belly. Juvenile males will have a rufous band that is somewhat mottled while the band on females will be much thinner than that on adult females.

Now that I think on it, this bird looked feminine.  So pretty.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata) - 25Nov2015

The Black-throated Sparrow is hands down the most dapper looking sparrow in North America.  These pictures are from my November 2015 trip with my brothers and parents to SE Arizona.

Black Tern (Chiladonius niger) - 05Aug2016

Black is beautiful.  Black Terns are not uncommon at the right time of year, but they are not easy to get close to.  This one on the North end of Wrightsville Beach was especially confiding and seemed more interested with his own reflection.