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Posts Tagged ‘Bachman’s Sparrow’

By Cynthia Donaldson

White Ibis

White Ibis

Our group of 15 birders met at Lawson Creek Park in New Bern, NC, on Friday, April 27.  Right after a picnic and group meeting, we headed south on 70 to Catfish Lake Road.  This road led us into the heart of the beautiful Croatan National Forest where we saw our first of several small “groups” of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

However, the star of the first stop was this Red-headed Woodpecker who posed on the top of a dead snag for all to enjoy.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

We enjoyed hearing a Prairie Warbler at this stop and we were thrilled to see and hear many more throughout the trip.  We also enjoyed seeing a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher pair tending to their nest.

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Next we headed to Pringle Road in the southern part of this forest.  We spent the rest of the afternoon driving and stopping in our search for Bachman’s Sparrow.  We learned that the proper pronunciation of the name is “back” man’s sparrow.  Audubon named this bird after a friend and fellow naturalist.

Bachman's Sparrow

Bachman’s Sparrow

We heard many of them singing on the northward trip up Pringle Road, but did not actually see one until the end of the day on our return south where we got great looks at several.  Their beautiful evening song won’t be forgotten!

The deep yellow of the Prothonotary Warbler is hard to capture, but Paul Beerman got a great photo of this beauty!

The deep yellow of the Prothonotary Warbler is hard to capture, but Paul Beerman got a great photo of this beauty!

On Saturday, we got up very early!  Breakfast was ready for us by 4:30 AM.  We left the hotel around 5:00 AM and made it to the Cedar Island Causeway in time to enjoy sunrise over the marshland.  We pulled to the side of the road at multiple spots and heard Clapper Rails, Sora, and multiple Seaside Sparrows welcoming the new day.  Several Green Herons were seen over the marsh.

After this, we went to the Cedar Island Ferry Terminal boat ramp and enjoyed a study of sandpipers.  A one-legged Black-bellied Plover was spotted.  Sometimes shorebirds tuck one leg up for a rest, but this bird truly only had one leg which he strategically placed directly under his belly.  A fortunate few also got looks at a Swallow-tailed Kite and Gull-billed Tern.  Brown Pelicans soared overhead in large groups.

As we walked down the beach, we added Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Red-breasted Merganser, and Ruddy Turnstone.

Dunlin and Least Sandpiper - side by side for a good comparison.

Dunlin and Least Sandpiper – side by side for a good comparison.

The bird of the day was the Common Eider that had been seen of late around the ferry terminal.  Again, another life bird for many of the participants.

After eating lunch, we drove to Fort Macon State Park.  Our favorite bird here was the Painted Bunting at the fort’s feeders.

Painted Bunting at Fort Macon.

Painted Bunting at Fort Macon.

One of our target birds was Wilson’s Plover – a life bird for many on the trip!

Wilson's Plover

Wilson’s Plover

After a delicious dinner at Amos Mosquito’s, we had the traditional countdown of all birds we saw on the trip.  The total at that point was 102 species with several more to be added the next day!  A scoop of ice cream was the finishing touch to a wonderful day.

Again, morning came early!  By 6:30 AM, we were at our meeting place in the parking lot of North River Wetland Preserve just a bit east of Otway.  John Fussell and several of his friends escorted us into this beautiful preserve.  For a small fee, visitors may enter on foot or bicycle.  We were privileged to accompany John and tour the wetland reconstruction project by car!

Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers were foraging in a newly constructed “swamp” in which 30 volunteers had planted thousands of stalks of “swamp” grass.  Yellow-breasted Chats and Blue Grosbeaks live at the North River Wetland Preserve.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

More life birds were added to many lists when we heard and saw the King Rail. Eighteen more birds were added according to John Hammond’s official list. His total was now 115 species for the trip!!

A great time was had by each of these wonderful, intrepid birders!

A great time was had by each of these wonderful, intrepid birders!

Special thanks to the photographers for the use of their photos in this post.

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By Rob Rogers

Forsyth Audubon’s 2014 Spring Trip was to North Carolina’s southern coastal region. Our “Base of Operations” was the Comfort Inn Shallotte where we enjoyed excellent hospitality – despite a few “technical difficulties” our first night. I would like to offer a special thanks to Judy Scurry for guiding us on our Saturday morning outing to Sunset Beach and for her dining recommendations. Judy, you made our trip very enjoyable and I am sure I speak for the rest of the group. Our group rounded out at 24 folks – a nice size for spring! Several different mini groups enjoyed an afternoon of birding on Friday in several different locations. Carol and Ouida win the “Most Unusual Sighting Award” when they were treated to a “Target Bird” flyover of three Woodstorks a few miles before reaching Shallotte!   Friday Night’s restaurant of choice for a large part of the group was “Inlet View Seafood” in Shallotte. Judy recommended it and we were not disappointed.

Osprey.  Photo by Mike Conway.

Osprey. Photo by Mike Conway.

Saturday morning, we departed from the usual “Rob Early Start Time”, departing for Twin Lakes at 8:00 AM. There we saw several of the expected denizens – egrets and herons – from the coast as well as a Common Moorhen, Alligators and Fox Squirrels the size of Welsh Corgis. Ospreys were nesting in the tall pines and put on quite a show as did the Least Terns fishing quite successfully in the lake. We left the Lakes and drove to Twin Lakes Golf Course where Ospreys were nesting on platforms close to the parking lot. All were able to observe to their heart’s content. Especially interesting when one of the nesters showed up with a 10″ Whiting and proceeded to have breakfast in full view of the group. We left the golf course, navigated the roundabout and over the bridge to Sunset Beach. After a brief encounter with a Corn Snake, the best birding was on the inlet side of East Beach where we had excellent looks at Oystercatchers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Black Skimmers, Black-bellied Plovers and (a personal favorite) Red Knots. We had a quick look at the west end of the island and were delighted to have long looks at a Whimbrel. We left Sunset around noon and headed out to Oak Island.

American Oystercatchers.  Photo by Phil Dickinson.

American Oystercatchers. Photo by Phil Dickinson.

Whimbrel.  Photo by Phil Dickinson.

Whimbrel. Photo by Phil Dickinson.

On Oak Island, we birded the 3 walkovers across the marshy area and though the species count was not high, what we saw was both interesting and entertaining. At the 30th Street Walkover, we had a Clapper Rail calling directly under and around the boardwalk. Several got decent looks at the moving grasses and the bird slinking along almost invisible in its camouflage. The 20th Street Walkover proved the old adage that everyone – er, everything – is attracted to a fight. Two Boat-tailed Grackles were battling on one of the creek banks – one on the other’s back, hammering him mercilessly on the back of the head. The loud squawking attracted a Clapper Rail’s attention from the opposite side of the creek. The Clapper was standing most unClapper like with head and neck extended so much that at first we thought it might be a Limpkin. The Clapper stood there for 5 minutes in rapt attention at the spectacle before him until the Grackles finally stopped the “Barney.” After checking the 3rd walkover, we headed back to the hotel to recount the day’s events.

Clapper Rail.  Photo by Mike Conway.

Clapper Rail. Photo by Mike Conway.

Sunday morning, we got back to a more standard “Rob Early Start” with a 7:15 “AIS” time and headed for Holly Shelter Gamelands. Our timing was impeccable with Turkey season over on Saturday leaving the gates unlocked until Monday. We were able to drive in and avoid the 3 mile hike to Fussell’s recommended areas. First stop, as we stepped out of our automobiles, we heard numerous Prairie Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Yellow Warblers and the crowd pleasing Red-headed Woodpeckers and Bobwhites. Just when we turned to go back to the cars, two Red-cockaded Woodpeckers flew in and all got good looks at this declining species. We drove to the second location and stopped to seek the Bachman’s Sparrow. We were directly in the area described by Fussell when we heard our first Bachman’s. The group scanned deep into the brush in vain until we realized the bird was singing a mere 20 feet from the road. Everyone “got on” the bird as he sang away and it was a lifer for many in the group. One last stop series near the drain pipes and we saw a luckless, Legless Lizard that had just been hit by a car. Alas, he did not make it but still an interesting sighting. The last of the drain pipes had Swainson’s Warblers on either side of the road. Unfortunately, as is often the case with Swainson’s, the brush was so thick that despite the close proximity, no one got a look.

Bachmans Sparrow.  Photo by Mike Conway.

Bachmans Sparrow. Photo by Mike Conway.

Our species list stands at 94. In addition to the “Most Unusual Sighting Award” mentioned above, I would like to hand out the “Dr. Doolittle Award.” Although we enjoyed David Doolittle’s company, the award is not for him! No, the “Dr. Doolittle” award goes to Kitty Jensen for her ability to speak with female Boat-tailed Grackles. Kitty would not divulge the subject of her conversations but assured me that they were most enjoyable. The trip was a big success and I look forward to the next outing.

Additional photos from the trip can be viewed in the Forsyth Audubon photo gallery http://www.forsythaudubon.org/Birds/PhotoGallery.aspx.  Select “Audubon Spring Trip 2014.”

 

 

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