Monday, June 3, 2013

North Carolina Vacation

  For the last five days I have been relaxing in beautiful Greenville, NC. This is only my second time in the state and first adventure near the coast. The inaugural voyage had Ashley and myself in the mountains and we worked our way eventually to Greenville. It was love at first sight... or step or breath or whatever you wanna call it! I was able to get lifers like Ruffed Grouse, Golden-crowned Kinglet,Winter Wren and Red-breasted Nuthatch. Even though I have to admit I was terrified - you know with that fear of heights and all BUT it was still a great experience and I wouldn't trade the nerve wrecking drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway for anything. 

On top of the world!

  This time we were hosted by Ashley's amazing aunt Lynn and her gracious husband Craig. They have a gorgeous house in Pitt County with 4 seed and 2 suet feeders just a dozen yards away from the back porch and three hummingbird feeders hung right on the deck. In just an hour and a half I saw 22 species while enjoying my drink. Now that's the life! Everything from Carolina Chickadees to Carolina Wrens were making appearances and they didn't even care I saw sitting right under them. All this and it was just my first morning. I couldn't wait for the next day when we planned for some exploring.

In mid song

    Day two was spent driving all the way to Cape Hatteras in Dare County. On the way we stopped at beautiful Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Columbia county and took a brief stroll on the boardwalk before checking out the visitor center. It's an extremely well put together exhibit with amazing displays! Once we got to Hatteras Point we walked the beach for a bit and did some seawatching. I had originally wanted to get out for at least one Patteson pelagic but unfortunately the logistics were just not working out. This just gives me a reason to come back again next year! Either way I did get to enjoy the great weather while watching terns fish right offshore and having Barn Swallows zip overhead on the beach.

Whattah hard bird to photograph

  After Hatteras I had one last day to try and track down a couple lifers. So far I had already added Eastern Box Turtle to the Herp List but not a single bird. I really wanted Mississippi Kite and saw a few eBird reports of them near by. I have tried for this bird at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch in Curry Hammock State Park several times but always miss out. I just seem to be at the wrong place at the wrong time but there has always been one seen the day I try. This is a great spot to witness migration but the bird of prey movement is incredible! This past year they broke the world record with 3,836 Peregrine Falcons. That's more than any other hawkwatch in the world! You can read more about them in this blog written by Rafael Galvez: Florida Keys Hawkwatch.

Lifer butterfly - thanks Roy for the ID help

  My park of choice for my last attempt was River Park North. It was only ten minutes away and there was a kite reported just a few days earlier. I arrived at 6:45 am and started my trek. I was going to be met up in a couple hours by Ashley and her family so I figured I needed to cover as much as possible in case we wouldn't be able to as a group. The park was pretty birdy and had great variety. In five hours I found 46 species and caught my lifer Eastern Painted Turtle but no Mississippi Kite. Once again I seem to be at the wrong place at the wrong time! I did find two Prothonotary Warbler nests and great views of parents coming back with grubs to feed the babies. Definitely makes up for dipping on my one target bird!

Good ol' momma

  I finished with 58 species in a couple days and had a great time. I may not have come across any lifers but I have the rest of the year for that! Now that I am home my attention is back on getting through summer and helping Dade win the June Challenge for a second year in a row. Also, it would be really nice to get that Wild Turkey!

Can't wait to get back!

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