Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Empid Hat Trick and BRP Mourning (27-29May2017)

This weekend was Luke's Greensboro Soccer Tournament, so I took the opportunity to take a half day on Saturday up in the Boone area.  The good news is the only game I missed was the only one they lost!

I started out at dawn listening to the cacophony of bird song at Lewis Fork.  Tons of birds but the light was horrible for photography and I only caught a glimpse of a Cerulean way up high in the canopy.  No photos sadly.  Even the Kentucky Warbler was not cooperating for photos.

FOY (yes I hate when people say that too) American Redstart.

Indigo Bunting

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Least Flycatcher - doing it's Chebeck call.

Narrow tail compared to Trailli (Willow and Alder) and it was small and compact and mostly gray without the smudgy plumage of Trailli.

Blue-headed Vireo

Next up was one of my favorite places in NC, Meat Camp ESA.  Even the name is cool.  As soon as I got out of my truck I heard both Alder and Willow Flycatchers.

Alder Flycatcher - I was careful to note which of my pics was the Alder and which was the Willows as the ID is pretty much impossible without the song.  This bird was clearly calling it's reeBEEa song.   Last year the Willow Flycatchers were over on the far side of the loop and the separation made it easy.  This year both the Willow and Alder were in the bog section, though the Willows seem to be calling exclusively from the trees over to the left when you first take the bog trail over the first boardwalk.  The Alder(s) seemed to be hanging out in the low shrubs in the boggy area.  I am not sure how true to this the birds are, but that's what it seemed to me.

Unfortunately by the time I got around to thinking of making a sound recording, the Alder stopped calling.  I did get a recording of the Willows.  On the recording you can hear the shooting from the nearby Watauga Gun Club.  Don't even get me started on that topic.

Fairly certain this is one of the Willows.  This one was not singing, but was doing the "whit" call.

Another one that I believe was a Willow.

Another Trailli....

This one looks identical to the Alder but actually was singing from a tall tree across from the Alder and was most certainly a Willow.

??? tricky birds.

Meat Camp ESA has a nice breeding population of Yellow Warblers.

Yet another empid.

How freaking cute!  Even squirrels in the mountains are better.  Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I was running out of time, and I really wanted to go to Elk Knob to get me a Golden-winged but the pull of the Mourning Warbler was too strong and so I headed up to the Linn Cove Viaduct area.  For those of you that are living in a cave, an especially cooperative Mourning Warbler has set up breeding territory in a clearing in the ridiculously beautiful setting next to the Linn Cove Viaduct.  I parked at the nearby overlook and walked down a bit and called Mark K since he posted he had just seen the bird.  I was chatting with Mark who was hiking at a ridge above and said he could see me.  Just as I was asking him where he saw the bird, it started singing really loudly.  There it was on a snag only 30 feet away!!!

I was utterly speechless.... Such a crippling bird.  Luckily he dropped down after 10 minutes of singing because I had to go to my son's second game in Greensboro and it was a 2.5 hour drive.

Speaking of Greensboro and the soccer tourney, I arrived about 10 minutes into the game and just in time to see something horrific.  My younger son's best friend is on my older son's team and he was charging in to try and kick the ball before the goalie could get to it and unfortunately they collided.  Next thing we know he is writhing in pain on the floor and his dad (my friend) ran out to find it was a complete fracture (not breaking the skin but obviously broken in half).  He ended up in surgery and now is in a full cast all the way to his hip.  Poor little kid, he is feeling better now.  They actually ended up winning the game anyway and the kid's brother scored two of the goals as a kind of dedication to his little brother.

Sunday morning I went to the Marriott Hotel at Triad airport and after an hour of trying the traditional spots for Warbling Vireo, I ended up finding them a little ways up the airport road.  In the process of moving around I must have unwittingly changed my camera settings and the photos are crap but diagnostic none the less.

Warbling Vireo

Yellow Warbler also at the Marriott, I wonder if this is a breeding individual.

My family joined me for a nice walk prior to the next game at the Greensboro Bog Garden.

 A very late Ring-necked Duck or maybe he is injured.

The resident Barred Owl

Red-eyed Vireo

My son won his third game, I am so proud of his performance.  Besides scoring, he was playing so unselfishly and distributing to his teammates.  I thought I saw a Bank Swallow hawking over the fields during the game but I was not able to confirm.

On the way back, we headed to Chapel Hill to have lunch and made a quick stop at the Arboretum.

This Acadian Flycatcher was super vocal but the light was horrible in the forest.

Louisiana Waterthrush - this looks like a recently fledged bird?  Again the light was bad so its hard to know for sure, but this bird looks too scraggly to be an adult.

Finally Memorial Day I birded on the border of Pender and New Hanover County looking for a Broad-winged Hawk for my NH County tick, but he never showed.

Prothonotary Warbler

Summer Tanager

This Red-shouldered Hawk was at Riverside New Hanover County Park and had me look twice for Broad-winged.

NH County record shot for Indigo Bunting.

Great Blue Skimmer

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Great Blue Skimmer

What a great Holiday weekend!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Heehaw! Shiny Cowbird (23-26May2017)

Someone had Black-bellied Whistling-ducks in Brunswick County earlier in the week so I went on the chase....  I dipped... However, I hate not going home with something so I went searching.

This field at Caswell Beach had some good variety after the heavy rain.

White Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Glossy Ibis and Snowy Egret.

I checked all the Glossies but could not find a White-faced.

The spit still has plenty of shorebirds moving through.  This flock had two White-rumps.  Look closely and you will find the birds with more flecking.

Gull-billed Terns are consistently hanging out at high tide.

The WRSP is just under the Dunlin here.

Hairy WP at CB State Park

Painted Bunting

No time for Dragon ID, will come back to this.

Almost stepped on this Copperhead at CB State Park.

Red Knot at the Spit.

SB Dow

Friday morning I headed to Fort Macon early to try for Marty's Shiny Cowbird.

Brown-headed Cowbirds were there on arrival at 7:20 am.

Painted Buntings too.

But then he showed! Shiny Cowbird.

I took a million photos, will whittle down the list later.... No time.

Although his head was indicative of an adult male, the brown on body would match with a first year brownish male which my Sibley app says is rare?

Nice comparison with a female BH Cowbird.

The grackles dwarfed him.

Good stuff!


A pee break at Holly Shelter got me this Dragon.  I have to ID later.

Tomorrow I have my kids soccer tourney in Greensboro but I am going to head up to the parkway in the morning and get the Mourning Warbler so I can be there in time for the afternoon game.  No rest for the wicked.