Piping Plover at the south end of Wrightsville.
But sometimes looking out my window is all I can muster.
I thought this was interesting, two male House Finches with a different shade of orange or red. Diet can affect pigment on this species. Out west I have seen them in an almost yellow color.
American Crow - the best way to ID a crow in southeast North Carolina is by hearing it call.
Bald Eagle at CB State Park.
Bald Eagle almost looking like a Turkey Vulture.
When you hear crows going nuts, you can be pretty sure they have an owl they are hassling. So I followed the calls and bingo.
Nesting Great Horned Owl at CB State Park.
Eastern Phoebe at Fort Fisher
Hooded Merganser and an American Coot at Fort Fisher Aquarium.
On the weekend I had a soccer tournament for both my sons in Charlotte. Luck would have it that a Bullock's Oriole was in Charlotte so I convinced the family to let me stop on the way.
First Dark-eyed Junco of the year for me while waiting for the Oriole.
It only took about 5 minutes.... Bullock's Oriole.
Bullock's Oriole and American Goldfinch.
Nice white belly with contrasting orange head and under tail and dark eye line all help complete the picture for a Bullock's ID.
My buddy Jeff was there and he told me about a nearby rufous. So I convinced the family to stop one more time before the whole weekend was consumed by soccer games.
Rufous Hummingbird - again only 10 minutes of waiting. You might ask, how do I know it is a rufous and not an Allen's? Ah, I am glad you asked. Check out Jeff's excellent photos of the same bird with the tail spread and showing the trademark notch: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S42100661
That gorget looks kind of like a running man logo.
Sunday was again consumed by soccer games but I got one hour of birding in at a random memorial garden near the soccer fields as my kids practiced. As I walked through the gardens I found a tomb for a 3 year old that got me all choked up. A picture of a cute kid that must have had leukemia or something and the inscription said "he always made us smile"...
But I digress, the good thing about the memorial gardens is that I scored a year bird...
Can you see it? Perfect camouflage.
Brown Creeper! always a good bird in the month of January. You can get them pretty easy in the spring in the mountains but finding them when they are relatively silent is tough due to the camouflage.
My youngest made it to the championships and were ultimately beat in a nail biter - 4 to 3.
My oldest won his last game but they did not make it to the championships. They both scored and played heroically.
I really wanted to stop for Common Mergansers on the way home but Sherry L reported a Thick-billed Murre at Wrightsville Beach so instead I stepped on the gas to try and make it home before first light which actually worked for my wife as she wanted to pick up the dogs at the kennel before they closed.
I made it the beach at 4:30 pm but I could not find the murre.
Young Common Eider at Johhny Mercer pier.
I was really bummed that I could not find it but if you know me, you know I don't give up easy. So in the morning I got up early and headed to WB for sunrise.
Unbeknown to me, Sam Cooper was behind me and snapped this photo of myself looking for the Murre.
Same joined me and he was the one that ended up finding the Thick-billed Murre again.
What you can't tell that is a Thick-billed Murre? You best get yourself some glasses, it is obvious. Let me zoom in for you....
Thick-billed Murre - alcid with short but pointed bill. In the same spot as seen the previous day.
Then 5-10 minutes after we located it, it started flapping a wing and looking like it was not doing so well. That attracted some gulls, a cormorant and a loon to see what was up. Before we process what was going on a Great Black-backed Gull flew in and Murdered the Murre. Sam documented the murder a lot better than I did, as his camera has great zoom: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S42167717
Common Eider at Johhny Mercer's Pier.
The ocean was perfect glass....Ideal conditions for combing through loon flocks.
Pacific Loon! You can see the rounded head and lack of a neanderthal brow like the nearby Common Loons have. I saw a pretty well defined chin strap with my scope but pictures were not as good.
You can barely make out the chin strap here and the dainty bill and the lack of a white horizontal bar on the neck.
Wow! What a good January so far....