Friday, February 7, 2020

Rain Check! (27Jan-01Feb2020)

Driving four hours only to find out the thing you drove for was canceled sucks.  I think collectively over the years I have driven 50-60 hours worth for pelagic trips that ended up being canceled.  Oh well, at least I don't have Corona Virus.

Here are some local pics in Wilmington from before my trip to the OBX.

A couple of Common Eiders has been hanging out at the break wall on the south end of Wrightsville.

The young male is kind of ugly so I didn't photograph him.

Black Skimmers

White-throated Sparrow at Oleander Memorial Gardens.

Blue Jay

Finally the Bonaparte Gulls are starting to show up in numbers.  I can watch them for hours.

Kind of like ocean dwelling doves.

The south end of WB is ideal for a quick walk before work.  So that is what I have been doing most mornings if my work schedule allows.

This young Great Black-backed Gull looks super weird because it is in some kind of transitional plumage between first and second cycle?  I have seen one like this before, but it is a really odd phase.


Great Egret at Airlie Gardens

House Finch

Great Cormorant - a crappy photo but you can see the white tuft under the hind wing and the white border under the bill.

There usually are Great Cormorants on the jetty at south WB but so far its hard to make them out with any detail.

Red-breasted Merganser

This presumed Ring-billed Gull had me doing a double-take.  Almost looked like a Mew/Common Gull.

Hooded Merganser at Airlie


Forster's Tern

Yellow-bellied Sapsucka! at Wade Park.


Red-winged Blackbird - it was cold enough that you can see the bird's breath!

This Black-headed Gull flew by Johhnie Mercer's Pier one evening.  Definitely a different BH Gull than the one at CB Lake.

Common Loons are flocking in large numbers now.

Purple Sandpipers at Masonboro Inlet.

Long-tailed Duck also at the inlet.

Field Sparrow at Rogersville Rd.  So sad what they are doing at this great birding area.  They have cut down most of the trees and put up no trespassing signs on half of the area previously great for sparrows and other successional species.

Eastern Towhee

Sharp-shinned Hawk - I was looking for a Western Tanager at First Fisher that someone else found and thought I had it in my view when this Sharpie flew in and scared all of the birds out of the area...

American Robin enjoying some red cedar berries.

Cedar Waxwing

So back to my OBX misadventures at the end of the month of January.  I was driving to Hatteras and made it to the Creswell area when captain called and let me know the pelagic was canceled.  Doh!  Luckily someone posted that a flock of Cackling Geese was hanging out only 5 minutes from where I was.

A mix of Cackling Geese and Canada Geese - the Cacklers are smaller with very small bills, but also notice the lighter coloration.

They actually separated from the Canadas for a while and I was able to count 20!  Has to be close to a record for NC?

Canada on far left and Cackling on far right.


Cackling above and Canadas below.

Lake Phelps was not far so I made the drive over.

A massive flock (~800) of Common Mergansers were hanging out barely within photograph range. Half male and half female.

So close to the OBX, I could not resist and headed out to Jeannette's Pier.

A couple young male Common Eiders were hanging out under the pier.

But the real prize was a NC lifer...

Two female King Eiders have been hanging out for a month about 200 yards or so out from the end of the pier.  You can just make out the profile which is more rounded than Common Eider profile.  The scope views were actually pretty decent and the smaller black bill was seen nicely.

Not the quality looks I was hoping for a NC lifer, but I will take what I can get.

Here is what a real King Eider male looks like....

I took this photo back in 2017 in Massachusetts.  The female is a Common Eider.

Northern Gannet back at Jeannette's Pier

 Common Eider munching on a crab.

The drive back was long but I listened to some good podcasts.

Good times!

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