FBC Trip to NC – Feb 2013

Seven club members headed south on Friday for the February club outing.  Bev, Brenda and Sally left Fredericksburg at 9:30am and met up with David and Georgia at Island 1 on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel around 11:30am.  We lucked out with a warm, calm day and saw 15 species, including Common Merganser, Brown Pelican, Surf Scoter, Northern Gannet, 300+ Lesser Scaup, and wonderful close up views of 50+ Long-tailed Ducks.  We then drove on over the bridge and stopped at both the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR and Kiptopeke where we picked up another 16 species including Yellow Rumped Warbler, Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Bufflehead, Common Crow and Fish Crow.  We then headed south to Nags Head, NC for our 3 night stay.

Saturday morning we met up with Beth and Rich at breakfast where we discussed our day of birding the Hatteras Seashore, Pea Island NWR, and Bodie Lighthouse.  With a forecast of temps only in the mid to upper 30’s and wind gusts in the 20’s we were trying to be realistic on our day ahead!  However, scanning the ocean from our room, we spotted 2 Red Breasted Mergansers, several Northern Gannets and a Razorbill, among others, so we were off to a good start.  At the Bodie Lighthouse pond we had Green-winged Teal, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gadwall and watched around 200 Tundra Swan fly in.  A quick stop at Coquina Beach brought in more Northern Gannet, Sanderling, Razorbill and an Eastern Towhee.  Our next stop at Oregon Inlet produced Bonaparte’s Gull, Red-throated Loon, Red-breasted Merganser and several more Razorbill, among others.  At the Pea Island Visitor Center the ponds were not productive but the feeders had lots of Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song and Savannah Sparrows as well as a beautiful orange colored House Finch.  On our return drive we picked up a male Common Yellowthroat in full breeding plumage, 100+ Snow Geese, White Ibis and 1 Great Egret.

Sunday we left at 8:00am and drove South West on route 264 to Mattamuskeet NWR.  Again very cold and windy but clear blue skies.  Birds sighted on our way included several Kestrel, Wood Duck, Robins everywhere, 2 Belted Kingfishers, Black and Turkey Vultures, 1 Osprey, dozens of Killdeer, Eastern Bluebirds and a large flock (1500+) Tundra Swan.  At Mattamuskeet we drove the wildlife trail around the wetlands and picked up hundreds of Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Green- and Blue-winged Teal, several Northern Harriers, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler and good looks at 3 Wilson’s Snipe in 3 separate locations.  At the visitor center we spotted 7 Black-crowned Night-herons (same spot as last year,) Pine Warbler, several Palm Warblers and a beautiful male Yellow Throated Warbler in full breeding plumage.  Some other birds spotted included a juvenile Bald Eagle, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, several Eastern Phoebe’s, White-throated, Song, Chipping and Swamp Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks.  At dinner we said goodbye to Beth and Rich who planned to drive straight home in the morning.

We checked out at 8:00am Monday and drove over to Alligator River NWR where we birded till noon.  It was still cold but the wind had dropped and again it was bright and sunny.  Here we picked up some additional species including Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Downy, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers, Tree Swallow and a Brown Thrasher.  All in all a very enjoyable weekend with 97 species!  Check out the complete species list here.
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