Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wilmington NC 2013 Birding Trip

We’re back from our annual birding expedition to the east coast. This year our group birded the Cape Fear river basin which is just south of Wilmington, N.C. We were gone for four days, only counted 101 species, ate our way through Cape Fear, and generally had a good time. None of us seem to have an accurate count of how many years we've visited the coast over fall break. The count is as high as eight and as few as six. Either way, we've gotten to like this trip and the visit to the coast.

Places we visited this year: Cape Fear, Airlie Gardens, the Mason Inlet Water Bird Management Area at Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach State Park, Green Swamp, Lake Waccamaw, Fort Fisher, Southport-Cape Fear Ferry Landing, Wilmington City Park

A partial list: blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, black-crowned night heron, herons, Bald eagle, mute swan, painted bunting, towhee, merlin, clapper rail, moorhen, black-bellied plover, semipalmated plover, piping plover, four species of gulls, five species of terns, four species of doves, ruby-throated hummingbird, six species of woodpeckers, tree swallow, one lone robin, all three mimics, Northern parula, several other warblers. We tried for red-cockaded woodpecker on the way down in the Sandhills region without any luck.

What I ate: Whiting, She crab soup, fried oysters, fried clam sandwich, grilled shrimp, seafood bisque at places like Big Daddy’s in Carolina Beach and the South Beach Grill in Wrightsville Beach.

Who also went: Jack and Katy Litz, Joe McGuiness, Kim Stroud, Diane Draper, April Mattes, Don Holt, Vern Maddux, Kathy Noblet. We probably put 800 miles on the cars. Wilmington is a long ways from Johnson City and not reached by Interstate.

All of us are probably now ready, after a few days to do laundry, sleep in our own beds, to go back!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Big Bald Birding Banding Station 2013

We returned to the Big Bald Bird Banding Station the first weekend of October. It was a beautiful early-Fall day. Bright sun. Light breeze. Warm temperatures. Just right for spending a day on the mountain top.

Big Bald is about three miles northbound on the Appalachian Trail from Sam's Gap. The gap is easy to find on a map: start down I-26 out of Johnson City, Tennessee, towards Asheville, North Carolina, and when you hit the state line you've arrived at Sam's Gap.

There were five of: two students from Haywood Community College; the biologist in charge; and two of us from the Herndon Chapter of TOS.

We had a good day banding: 44 individuals; 14 Swainson's thrush, 10 Tennessee warblers, 7 Ruby-crowned kinglets and a smathering of 7 other species. Two days before the crew (not us!) banded 69 individuals which is more than enough work!

Each banding requires an identification, weight, various measurements, and age. We get lucky and can re-capture previously banded birds including our own.

In the photos you can see one was Eastern Towhee and the second a Black-throated blue warbler.

We were visited by but didn't get to tag a Robin, Blue-headed vireo. We saw also a Turkey vulture and a red-tailed hawk but of course they were not likely to get in our nets.

This was our first visit to Big Bald this year. We are very fortunate to have such a spot to visit and enjoy the outdoors as well as help out a bit.