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Red Wolf hunting Blue Heron

Today we birded Alligator River WR. Following Jeff
Lewis's directions, we were hoping for Lincoln's
Sparrows when, on MillTail Creek Rd. Skip spotted a
red wolf on the road. We were about one quarter to
half a mile from it & got out our scope. Nearby, on
the bank of the ditch (canal?) was a great blue
standing still. The wolf was a short distance away,
and that seemed odd to me, but Skip speculated that
the wolf may have already made a try for it and
missed. We watched it walking away from us (and the
heron) and decided to get in the car and see if it
would allow us to ride by and look, thinking it
unlikely. When we got to the intersection Milltail and
Long Curve Rd. we saw the wolf turn left in front of
us, entering the next road (parallel to Long Curve).
We drove along Milltail and looked up this rd. and saw
the wolf looking back at us. He entered the brush by
the road and re-entered the road 3-4 times, each time
looking at us. I concluded it was waiting for us to
leave. So we turned around in full sight of the wolf,
made a U turn and then turned right onto Long Curve; I
pulled the car over and we got out--my bet was that
the wolf was returning up Mill Tail--and it did!
Almost face to face as it rounded the turn, as we were
rounding the turn from the other way. It ran back the
way it had come and turned left onto the same road
(parallel to Long Curve, where we are now). We decided
to bird along the ditch looking for sparrows and did
for a few minutes, our backs to the area the wolf
would have entered. When we turned to go back to the
car Skip saw it standing on the opposite side of the
other ditch framed by the reeds, watching us. We could
see its yellow eyes without binocs! We stared at it
and it stared back a few mins., then turned back into
the brush. We got in the car and drove up the road
almost a quarter of a mile. We birded for sparrows
(sighted one Lincoln's), turned to go back to the car,
and the wolf was out on the road chasing a great blue
heron--we must have been right--that's what it was
after when we first sighted it. The heron flew
(thankfully--not a successful hunt I care to witness)
off and the wolf began trotting toward us, very
confident looking. We watched it (a characteristic
lope); when it came to another side road, it turned
and went out of sight. It was collared.

We were very fortunate to see 2 red wolves when they
were flown in for the re-introduction program. This is
our first in the wild.

A bit less exciting, but still worth seeing: Many,
many (30 probably in an afternoon) harriers--several
great views of males. Also on Creef Cut Trail (what
happened to the sign?) we saw:

hermit thrush, brown-headed nuthatch, red-tailed hawk,
catbird, robins and a mourning cloak butterfly.

Thanks to Jeff Lewis and John Fussell for making
Alligator River sound so tempting in winter. This was
our first winter trip.

best wishes,
linda & skip

--Linda Jeannette Ward
--P.O. Box 231
--Coinjock, N.C. 27923

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