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I just returned home from a great day on the Outerbanks.  I had targeted 
some of the rarities (Northern Goshawk, Tufted Duck & Thayers Gull) recently 
reported, but I saw none of them.  Instead, I found some other noteworthy 
species.  Highlights included the following.

HARLEQUIN DUCK (1 female) at Avon Pier.  This was my best bird since it was 
a state lifer.  I can't tell you how many times I looked for it in NC over 
the last 7 years with no success, but today was finally the day!

CALIFORNIA GULL (2 ADULTS) at Cape Point.  One bird was associating with a 
LESSER-BLACK BACKED GULL in the salt pond.  The other bird was on the South 
Beach in a large (huge) flock of gulls.

GLAUCOUS GULL (1 1st Winter bird) at the tip of Cape Point.  This gull was 
one of four gulls begging the fishermen for food.  An easy find for anyone 

LITTLE GULL (1 adult) at Cape Point.  This bird was flying with Bonapartes 
Gulls on the East Beach close to the main ramp near the fish cleaning 

LESSER-BLACK BACKED GULLS (40+ 1st, 2nd, 3rd year & adult birds) at Cape 
Point.  This was clearly the highest total of this species that I have ever 
seen at Cape Point.

EARED GREBE (1) at Cape Point salt pond.  It was associating with a Horned 
Grebe, which made for a nice comparison of these two similar species.  Good 
luck finding it amongst the ~20,000 Double-crested Cormorants.  I have never 
seen so many there.

MERLIN (1) - Flying in Avon.

AMERICAN BITTERN (3) onlong the Rt. 12 drainage ditches.  One bird was close 
to the entrance to Bodie Island Lighthouse.  The other two were adjacent to 
the Pea Island Ponds.  Three Bitterns is my new one day Rt. 12 record, 
replacing two which I have seen on multiple occasions in the Winter.

It was a beautiful day of birding on the Banks!

-Brad Carlson
Winterville, NC

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