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Ocracoke Stuff

I've been checking the south end of Ocracoke Island (the tidal flats,
the roped-off breeding bird colony and Ocracoke inlet) each morning as
the tide peaked. The expected shorebirds, along with varying numbers of
Piping Plovers (from 4 to 33) have been present, daily.

Friday, 26 July 2002 began with rainfall, resulting in higher than
normal standing water on the Ocracoke flats. I counted 33 Piping
Plovers, 2 of which were colored-banded. I chose not to approach close
enough to record the bands as the birds were skittish. The several
hundred other birds present all appeared to be the expected species for
late July. Probably as a result of the continued rainfall, I noted more
adult Black Skimmers resting within the colony...maybe as many as 200
sitting birds. As I was circling the perimeter of the roped-off colony,
one flying bird caught my attention. I watched as an adult Sooty Tern
circled the area several times and finally landed within the colony. It
remained for only a few minutes and left as the rain increased in
intensity. I watched as it gained altitude and headed SE over the beach.

Because of weather, I did not get back to Portsmouth Island until
Thursday, July 25. There had been heavy rain in the area the preceeding
12 hours and the flats at Portsmouth had generous amounts of standing
water with an incoming tide to contribute more! I was able to locate
only 4 Reddish Egrets and 5 Piping Plovers. By noon, a small group of
Black Terns had gathered; though varying somewhat in plumage, all of
them, alas, had dark gray rumps.

Wayne Irvin