Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
March continued with high numbers of Ring-necked Ducks out on the backwaters, but 46 of them on March 11th was nowhere close to what I would eventually see.
On March 12th I visited some wetlands that were on D DR S just West of 1/2 Mile Road. This excellent spot was found my Zachary Frieben on March 9th. This small flooded field gave excellent looks at a group of Tundra Swan and FOY Rusty Blackbirds, but not much else when I initially visited. The water having frozen back over during a cold spell. I made a few minor stops that same day before hitting up Woodland Park. Nothing significant there, but I did get some of the best Cedar Waxwing shots I have been able to get. All in all 9 FOY birds found on the 12th.
March 15th brought about a big dip. Certainly a nemesis bird for me has become a Northern Mockingbird. Kolb Park had a report of one being sighted around the lake there. My first trip to this park near KCC did not payoff. One of these days I'll get this elusive bird.
This would be my last "trip" in Calhoun county as I would take a trip to North Carolina to see family. Oh, and the Mockingbirds were as plentiful as Robins down there. Just a little salt in the wound...lol. My first "great" bid there, besides the Merlin on the drive from the airport, was a lifer Brown-headed Nuthatch. Worked sooooo hard for that bird as I sat on a couch looking out a window.
March 19th I headed out to Fort Fisher looking for some more lifers, and Harlequin Ducks that had been reported there. Cold temps, heavy waves and the surfer dudes didn't prevent me from catching a group of 22 Black Scoters (lifers), and a distant but ID'able lifer Northern Gannet. No Harlequin Ducks were to be found though. Despite the cold, the sun made for some excellent picture taking opportunities. I managed some of my favorite Osprey pictures ever. I'm still not sure how it managed to fly with this gigantic trout in its talons. Unfortunately it was shortly followed by a Bald Eagle hot on its tail, surely with a plan to steal that hard won fish from the Osprey.
I moved from the Overlook/Outcropping/Gazebo area to the Basin Trail and Aquarium Pond afterwards. I took the long walk through the trails near the pond, and back to the Observation deck. I think I could have stayed there all day. Excellent looks at some birds, but also quite a lot of shorebirds that were nothing but silhouettes in the high sun. 46 species in all in just under 3 hours. Some great looks at Dunlin that landed right in front of me at the Observation Deck. Short-billed Dowitcher flybys; Royal, Forster's and Caspian Terns. Just an excellent looks at birds we don't get up in Michigan (at least away from Moulee).
The Rocks at Federal Point gave some distant views to Red-throated Loons, Red-necked Grebe, and Red-breasted Merganser. The dock was crowded with various gulls, Terns and a White Ibis that provided excellent opportunities for pictures.
The day was not done though. I ventured down to Wrightsville Beach to stop at the Mason Inlet. I meant to go to Masonboro to try for Common Eider, but got my intentions mixed around:-). Some better looks at Northern Gannets were here. Some great looks at 4 different Plover species; Black-bellied, Wilson's, Semipalmated, and a Piping Plover. These along with other expected shorebirds, Egrets and Herons, made the 1.5 hours go by too quick. Another favorite image of mine (to go along with the previous Osprey) was this American Oystercatcher that flew by me.
American Oystercatcher landing sequence
Wow that added up to a ton of pictures from Mason Inlet that I dug. Not so much a blog, as it is a picture show I guess. Probably more than enough for now. All in all not a bad day with 2 lifers to start out, and just great looks at some excellent birds. I will have to do the next NC Field Trip as a separate post.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)