Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Took a little bit of a blogging hiatus, mostly since I felt it was pointless and boring to update this blog for every new migrant I found. But as of today, I sit at 251, only 101 away from the record. Most of the last 30 birds were migrants, and I still have plenty of easy birds left to get. Last weekend, I was able to get out on a real bird chase, for Brown Booby. Though the bird was sickly, it still counted for the big year, though saddening to see it struggling. Looking out for Broad-winged Hawks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Worm-eating Warblers, and looking forward to finishing finals to hit up the mountians!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 80

Slowly but surely the days are getting longer and spring birds are coming. In addition to adding White-faced Ibis on round two, I've added Bachman's Sparrow, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and Pectoral Sandpiper.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Days 68-72

Fishing and Birding. The two never really strike people as going together, but to me, they always go hand in hand. Maybe its because on my quest for monster fish, I end up in the backwaters where no one else likes to go, the same logic many use to find rare birds. At any rate, my Spring Beak was dedicated to fishing, and I knew that would make for some new year birds as well. On the 9th, I fished Lake Wylie for Smallmouth Buffalo, a species of carp that is very hard to hook. I ended up bringing a small 4-5 pounder right to the edge only to have it shake the hook. Purple Martin and Northern Rough-winged Swallows were both seen hawking insects, and made for birds 203 and 204. On Sunday, I ventured "out-of-bounds" to South Carolina to pick up a Smooth-fronted Caiman, a species I had been meaning to get for some time now. 

After that, I spent Monday in Horry County, SC, fishing 17 hours straight for Mirror Carp without a bite, until a 31.2 lbr struck on my 12 pound test line. Loads of fun, and saw a very early Mississippi Kite, my first year bird that didn't count on the big year. 

After that, I spent Monday in Horry County, SC, fishing 17 hours straight for Mirror Carp without a bite, until a 31.2 lbr struck on my 12 pound test line. Loads of fun, and saw a very early Mississippi Kite, my first year bird that didn't count on the big year. Driving back up to NC, I spotted a Wood Stork on the side of the road feeding in a small pond. Frantically, I pull out my map, and was happy to find I had passed the border not five minutes before. Year bird 205. Getting to Wilmington, I went offshore first thing in the morning for a few hours with friends. Puffin and Sea Bass were on my mind, but neither were biting. Manx Shearwater, Doviekie, and Red Phalorope were all welcome year birds though, for 206, 207, and 208. I then got the Harlequin Duck that was being seen last week as 209. Coming back down to Wilmington to shark fish, I saw another Dovekie off of Johnny Mercers fishing pier, as well as catching a number of Cleannosed Skates and a Spiny Dogfish. Overall, an awesome spring break with loads of big fish and year birds to go around.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 61

On Saturday, my good friend Mike McCloy, his dad, and I went out to Lake Mattumuskeet to chase the White-faced Ibis found by Scott Winton (who is on a crazy rare bird streak this year). Leaving at 4am, later than planned (due to me sleeping though my alarm), we got to the lake bright and early to see if the ibis would show. It didn't take long to find the flock of ibis, with both Whites and Glossies mixed together. Glossy was year bird 200! After looking for over 4 hours without success however, we determined that it would be best to move on.

After Mattumuskeet, we took a pit stop at Pettegrew State Park to pick up Clay-colored Sparrow, and were treated to 5 birds in all, doubling my total number seen in NC. It was a great day, and we started on our way home. Mike and I were both pretty tired and started to drift to sleep for the long ride home, but, after a few miles of driving, Mike opened his eyes at the perfect moment to see a large blackbird flock. Like any good birder would, we pulled off and started sorting though the mess of cowbirds, red-wings, and grackles, hoping for a flash of yellow. After a few minutes, Mike finally spotted what we has hoped was in there: a Yellow-headed Blackbird. Frantically, I tried and failed to get on the bird, but eventually managed to get decent looks. It flew before I got any good photos, but did manage a great one of the vent! Mike got a great profile shot before the entire flock flew to the middle of the vast field. Yellow-headed Blackbird was a great new bird for the year, and one that was easily missable. I feel very lucky to have seen it so early in the year. 

Photo by Micheal McCloy

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 55

My Sunday started simple enough. I went from Chapel Hill to Raleigh to attend to some snake business, picking up a few kingsnakes that will be used in future breeding projects, and just hang out and grill some burgers with good friends. But that all changed around 1pm, when Nathan Swick texted me to tell me there was a Northern Lapwing seen in Roxboro NC. Without so much as a goodbye, I raced out of my friends house and hightailed it to Roxboro. It was about an two hours from where I was, but thanks to some speedy driving, shortcuts, and a good luck on lights, I made it there in an hour and 15 minutes. When I pulled in, I saw a group of familiar faces all with scopes pointing in the same spot, right at the distant Northern Lapwing. Jeff Pippen, Robert Meehan, Kent Fiala, Beth Garver, Nathan Swick and his son Noah (who was more interested in his matchbox cars than the rare eurasian bird), Jeff Siren, the Shultz's, and a few others I'm forgetting were all there, and we marvelled at the stunning colors and patterns of the Lapwing. After a while we were able to get better looks and photos of the bird, and Robert and I were able to observe it fly with its slow round wings, unlike any shorebird I have ever seen. Though I usually don't say things like this, I'm going to put this out here: The Northern Lapwing may have been my single most favorite bird I have ever seen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 50

I went to Hammocks Beach State Park to chase the Snowy Plover reported by Ed Corey. After searching over 3 miles of shoreline, and sorting through over 10 Piping Plovers, I finally found the bird associating with 2 Wilson's. Three new plovers for the year in the same day. Plus, interestingly enough, this was the exact same spot where I got my state Snowy Plover a few years back. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 49

A synopsis of my NC Big Year was featured on the ABA Lister's Central Blog. Check it out here!