Saturday, February 22, 2020

Pelagic Palooza (10-17Feb2020)

This past week was absolutely bipolar.  I had an excellent time on my birthday pelagic and I had a horrible time hosting an audit at work.  Its been a long time since I had to pull a 20 hour workday but that is essentially what I did earlier this week.  Before I get into that, some photos from the week prior.

Carolina Beach State Park is an excellent place for Hairy Woodpeckers.

Winter Wrens are few and far between in Wilmington, but CB State Park is a good place for them.  Just look for some fallen trees.

One of my routines in the winter is to visit Johnnie Mercer's Pier in the early morning for sunrise.  The stars finally aligned for me on 11Feb.  I have seen plenty of Pacific Loons before but never close up.

Pacific Loon - someone was feeding gulls bread at the end of the pier and I think all the gull activity attracted the loon flock to see what was up.

Two Pacific Loons in the same frame!

My life will never be the same....

White-throated Sparrow at Wade Park

Carolina Wren

This Bonaparte's Gull at the Masonboro Inlet excited me when I saw the dark mark on the shoulder making me think Kittiwake.  However, it was a blob of tar!  Poor sucker.

Red-shouldered Hawk at the X-City Trail.

Canada Goose

Awww so cute.

Now some photos from a successful several days over President's Day weekend, otherwise known as my B-day weekend.

Saturday I drove up early so I could spend the day at Alligator NWR...  It was a beautiful day but the birding kind of stunk.

I have never seen so many Red-tailed Hawks, they were everywhere.

This distant eagle made me think Golden, but the white on tail is not definitive as I have seen Bald Eagles with the pattern as well.  The nape just wasn't golden enough for my liking.

Northern Harrier gray ghost.

As much of a dud as Saturday was, Sunday was rocking!  

Straight out of the inlet we had huge numbers of Razorbills.

Little Gull!  I spotted this one not too far out the inlet.

Kate later spotted this one, probably the same one..

As you can see, the ocean was super calm and ended up being that way all day.

Once we pushed out a couple miles offshore, we started to see tons of Dovekies...


Then Atlantic Puffins were showing in good numbers.  We ended up with a high count of 51 which was one of the best 1 day totals ever for a Patteson pelagic.

Manx Shearwater

Puff Puff Give!

SKUAAAA!  I saw this guy coming in hot and heavy and alerted the crew.

Great Skua!

Chocolately brown goodness!

Great Skuas usually don't hang around long, but this one did.

Glaucous Gull!  I have never seen an adult or at least near adult. Kate thinks this could be a 3rd cycle bird as it was not totally white.

Nice comparison with a Herring.

Puffins continued to plague us.


For mammals we had Bottlenose Dolphins and Minke Whale (not photographed).  We also had Loggerhead Turtle and a possible Mako Shark doing a flip.

Northern Fulmar!  Being chased by a gull.


Then Brian spotted my 400th NC Bird....

Common Murre!  We actually had one earlier in the day but it was a fly by and no photos were obtained.

We pretty much made a clean sweep of winter pelagic species for NC with the exception of Thick-billed Murre and Kittiwake.  What a stellar B-Day present.

Monday was President's Day and for some reason my company changed their usual holiday calendar to include it this year.  I was not complaining and used the day to get me my 401st NC bird....  A nice lady in Morehead City has been hosting a Bronzed Cowbird in her years and has allowed visitors.  This is the first record of the species in NC and second for the Carolinas.

White waiting for the Bronzed Cowbird to show, I added a couple photographed birds for my year effort...

Brown-headed Cowbird

Dark-eyed Junco

Then this monster showed....

Brown-headed Cowbird on left and Bronzed on right. Note the red eye!

Not a bad week!

I will post about my hellish week at work later.  I did get a Woodcock recording out of it so it was not all for naught.

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