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Jordan Lake, ULake: great egrets, bald eagles, sharp shinned hawk

Last Saturday morning I got out on University Lake near Chapel Hill. On
Sunday, I paddled up to the New Hope Creek end of Jordan Lake. Saw Great
Egrets both places, one at ULake and three at Jordan. On the Triangle
checklist Great Egrets are listed as rare in June, but maybe they're getting
a bit less rare. Shelley Theye also reported one a week or two ago.

Breeding birds are still very active at University Lake. I saw an Orchard
Oriole fledgling clamoring to be fed. Also saw a female orchard and three
adult males. The south end of ULake (near Damascus Church Rd.) is full of
Common Yellowthroats and Red-winged Blackbirds. I kept hearing a
Downy-Woodpecker-like whinny and finally figured out that a female
Red-winged Blackbird was making that sound. And I watched a male redwing
chase a protesting Great Blue Heron toward me -- thought they might fly
right up my binoculars. The Phils Creek side of the lake (northwest) as
usual had the greatest diversity of birds. I got within 15 feet of a
Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I saw an Eastern Kingbird sitting quietly on a willow
branch a few feet from a nest with three bobbing heads sticking out. Heard a
Wood Duck. And Green Herons flew around, saying "quowk." The Phils Creek end
is where I saw the Great Egret, which perched in a willow near Jones Ferry
Rd. Also glimpsed a couple of blackbirds or grackles harrassing a somewhat
larger bird. When they flew directly over my head I got a brief but clear
snapshot in my mind's eye of their target, a Sharp-shinned Hawk with its
tail fanned. This is also a rare bird in June according to the checklist.
(And I could be wrong, but I had a very strong impression of a
sharp-shinned.) Surprisingly, I didn't see or hear a single kingfisher.
Maybe they're sticking really close to a nest somewhere. I looked for clay
banks, after Bruce Young's post about finding nest holes for kingfisher and
Northern Rough-winged Swallow at Falls Lake, but clay banks are few and far
between when ULake is full, and I never found a nest hole. Did see a little
family group of La. Waterthrushes with one fledgling, and I heard a Hooded
Warbler sing briefly and heard the piercing screams of a young Red-tailed
Hawk. Also saw a pair of adult redtails with a mostly eaten prey item that
had a neat little gray paw -- a squirrel? (NOTE: University Lake charges a
fee, even if you bring your own canoe or kayak, and it's pretty stiff for
non-Orange-County residents:  $8 for the first person in the boat and up to
$3 for the second. For county residents it's only $5. Cheaper than a movie
and about 10 times as entertaining!)

Jordan Lake on Sunday was much hotter and not as birdy but still
interesting. We put in at the south end of the Hwy. 751 bridge, and I'm glad
to say someone had done something fatal to the drift of poison ivy that
threatened to overtake the path to the water. (It's a 100-yard carry, and at
one point you have to hoist your boat up over a metal barrier to vehicles.)
We paddled two miles north up to the end of the lake and found the mouth of
New Hope Creek, which is just past the old railroad grade. (We saw a couple
of people standing on the grade and figured they might have ridden mountain
bikes down from Stagecoach Rd.) We didn't get far up the creek before we
were stopped by a beaver dam. Saw 8 to 10 bald eagles for the trip, mostly
adults. Two eagles were fishing, and one chased an osprey round and round in
an attempt to rob it. An immature eagle flew right over our heads with an
Eastern Kingbird in hot pursuit. Lots of Prothonotary Warblers sang along
the shore, and I even heard two Yellow-throated Warblers singing. (It seems
late for them.) We saw the three Great Egrets about a hundred yards north of
the old railroad grade on west side of the lake (accessible with a long, hot
walk from Old Hope Valley Farm Rd.) I was in a canoe on Sunday, and the
paddle back to the starting point was very tough for Cathy Packer and me --
straight into the wind, and the sun was grilling hot. 
Chapel Hill, NC