Friday, January 24, 2020

CBCs (04-06Jan2020)

This year I participated in the Wilmington and Southport Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) on consecutive days during the first weekend of January.  The Wilmington count was on a rainy Saturday  and I was assigned basically all of River Rd which is the road that runs from Snow's Cut inlet near Carolina Beach all the way up close to Greenfield Lake.  Habitat includes marshes, pine stands and one of the best county parks which is part of a school.

I didn't take pictures the first half of the day because of the pissing rain and the birds were few and far between.  However, eventually the rain let up and things started to get interesting.

GBH at River Rd Park

Clapper Rail - a typical between the blades of grass view.

Tufted Titmouse at Ashley HS Ponds

Chipping Sparrow

Eastern Phoebe

Savannah Sparrow

A large sparrow flock at Ashley HS was feeding in a soccer field and I was photographing some of them when this beauty popped up...

Lark Sparrow!  My first self found rarity of the year.  Not super rare, but nice on a CBC, one of the only write-ins.  A write-in is basically a bird species that is not listed on the CBC expected list and therefor is written in the margin.

As you can see the rain was continuing intermittently.

Cooper's Hawk - This bad boy caused most of the sparrows to flee into nearby bushes but I did stay on the Lark Sparrow for a while.

Little Blue Heron - One of my last spot checks was the Riverlights community which is a new "planned" community on the north end of River Rd.  Not much going on but a few birds in the retention ponds.

This stud Bufflehead was maintaining a nice little harem.

This was the second Loggerhead Shrike of the day, found at the parking lots near Home Depot and technically was not in the area I was assigned but was on my way home.

Everyone loves a good Christmas Bird Count.... until they get assigned Boiling Spring Lakes near Southport, NC.  In past years it may not have been so birdless, but about two years ago during Florence the dams breached and the lakes were no more.  The area is still home to some populations of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, but other than that a monoculture of Long Leaf Pine in an area of suburban sprawl does not lend to species diversity.  Here are some random pics from that Sunday CBC.

Red-tailed Hawk

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - I tried long and hard to look for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers but failed badly.  I found plenty of their nest holes drilled into the long leaf pines, but no actual birds.

During my lunch break, I headed to Fish Factory Rd in Southport for a couple year birds.

Bald Eagle

Common Gallinule - after picking up the gallinules at the pond I was chatting with some of my blog readers when we saw a shorebird with a long bill flushing from the far side of the pond and fly right by us...  "Woodcock" I yelled.  Unfortunately I was not fast enough with the camera.

I headed back to my dismal count area and tried hard for the rest of the day looking for RCWs and failing.

Hermit Thrush with some nice bokeh.

Before work on Monday, I went to get some pics of the Soras that fellow Wilmingtonians have been seeing at Wade Park which is a local park only a couple miles from my house.  Wade Park is one of the few success stories of habitat creation in Wilmington. Most stories are about habitat loss.

The Soras did not disappoint.  This is probably the best Sora picture I have to date.

Eastern Bluebirds love Wade Park too.

Northern Mockingbirds love every habitat it seems.

Later in the afternoon after work, I headed to Ashley HS Ponds for some shots during the "golden hour".

American Wigeon mixed in with some Gadwall.

White-winged Scoters are rare in Wilmington off the ocean but we have a few now.

A Lesser Scaup has been hanging out too.

Gadwall males are under-appreciated ducks with some really nice patterns.

American Wigeon on left and Gadwall on right.

I love wing-flapping shots and will sometimes wait 15 minutes to get one.

Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures regularly hang out on the fence outside the ponds.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture senate - makes me think of Moscow Mitch for some reason....

I headed down to Fort Fisher to take a sunset walk and found this one sitting on the side of the road.  

Barred Owl - must have just been hunting and pounced down on a mouse or something.

Not a bad couple of days in Wilmington....

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