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Chatham County NAMC - More Eagles than Warblers?
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- Subject: Chatham County NAMC - More Eagles than Warblers?
- From: Joshua Stuart Rose <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 11:37:34 -0400 (EDT)
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Okay, we didn't really have more eagles than warblers. But we were
amazingly close; we had a very disappointing day migrant-wise, with more
*individual* Bald Eagles (six) that we had *species* of warblers (four).
Especially disappointing since others apparently had no warbler shortage,
though it sounds like a couple of SC counters had days like ours, many
raptors and few landbirds.
"We" was a contingent from Duke. At 5:30 AM, I rendezvoused with lab tech
Navila Hamilton and grad students Rena Borkhataria and Colin Saunders.
About 20 minutes later, late-sleeping grad student Jessica Hardistee
caught up and we left. Norm Budnitz, whose intended birding partner
(Patsy Bailey) was stranded out of town by the airline shutdown, met us
at Horton's Pond. And German exchange student Martin Kaltenpoth (a
herper, rather than a birder like Frank) joined me in the late morning
after all but Norm had left, and stayed for the afternoon.
Norm started the day with an Eastern Screech-Owl before the rest of us
arrived. We turned up a variety of common residents as the sky lightened.
A few Great Egrets and a Spotted Sandpiper waited on the shore of Jordan
Lake near Horton's Pond. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, maybe a migrant, called
from the scrubby deciduous woods along the shore. Then an adult Bald
Eagle flew into view over the far shoreline, which we thought was good at
the time... Norm and I pished up an American Redstart and a Black-and-
White Warbler to join the BGGN. We left there around 7:30, and spotted a
kettle of over 20 Turkey Vultures rising over the Crosswinds Marina; hope
the person counting that neighborhood noticed.
A quick biscuit stop at the R&T Grill, then to Ebenezer. Things started
quickly. Jessica spotted a Pileated Woodpeckler as we drove through the
parking lot. I saw two Sanderlings and a Spotted Sandpiper in flight
before the cars stopped rolling; Norm re-found the Sandies on the shore
not far away. And a Caspian Tern flew by not long after that!
Then, quiet for a while. The cold and wind generated serious viewing
problems over the water, combining mist, heat distortion, and choppy
waves, while the wind apparently also drove the passerines away from the
lakeshore and back into the woods.
We moved into the lee of the restrooms, and let the sun warm us up. I
scanned with binoculars and saw a white dot in the trees on the far
shore. Could it be another adult Bald Eagle? Got the scope on it: TWO of
them. Then Jessica asks about the raptor that just soared into view over
the trees; it's an immature. Then two more appear, another pair of
adults! FIVE Bald Eagles, four adults and an immature, all together!
Don't see that every day, unless you live in Alaska!
The adjacent picnic area had lots of fruit on Virginia Creeper vines and
Black Gum trees, but the only migrant birds around were two Red-eyed
Vireos and an Eastern Wood-Pewee, plus the lone Chimney Swift circling
overhead. A "murder" of crows raised a racket, and turned out to be
mobbing a Red-tailed Hawk. After that, Jessica, Colin, and Rena went
home; Martin showed up not long afterwards. Since we had found so few
migrants on the edge of the woods, we tried the Old Oak Trail into the
interior, but the only bird we added to our list was a Green Heron on the
larger of the two ponds. We began getting distracted by plants, insects,
fungi, and frogs. At one point I lay on my belly to photograph a yellow
coral fungus, and rose to discover DOZENS of tiny ticks on my arms! I
think they were newly hatched baby Lone Star Ticks, rather than Deer
Ticks, but my fiance is watching my health closely...
Back to the R&T for the Triangle's best burgers for lunch. Then Norm
left, while Martin and I headed back down to the Poplar Point water
treatment ponds. An impressive 19 Wood Ducks, including two or three
dazzling males, plus a Blue-Winged Teal, an American Black Duck, and the
usual bevy of Mallards.
Martin and I spent the rest of the afternoon, until we went home at 4:15,
at Horton's Pond. Birds were few and far between, especially migrants,
and other organisms were terribly distracting. I took a photo of a
juvenile Fence Lizard perched on the back of Martin's leg, just to prove
how intent the non-birds were at getting our attention! (I also have a
photo of some kind of Robber Fly on my shorts). However, we did add a few
species to our list, starting with a Red-headed Woodpecker on a dead tree
in the spillway, and the day's second Pileated not far away. An Osprey
appeared over the marsh north of the pond, attempted to perch in a tree
to enjoy its snack, but was chased off not once but twice by a young Red-
Shouldered Hawk! The only migrants we could pull out of passing passerine
flocks were another Black-and-White and another Redstart, but we capped
the day when an Ovenbird flitted across the trail and walked away through
Yesterday, the biodiversity class I TA had a field trip to the Duke
marine lab in Beaufort, NC, including a jaunt out to Carrot Island (also
known as Bird Shoal or the Rachael Carson NWR). The class focused
primarily on invertebrates, algae, and plants. However, I did manage to
spot an American Kestrel heading south over the island. Plenty of waders
and shorebirds around, of course, including many Marbled Godwits and
White Ibis and Willets, a few American Oystercatchers, a basic-plumage
Ruddy Turnstone, a Semipalmated Plover, and Tricolored and Little Blue
Joshua S. Rose
Department of Biology (Zoology, R.I.P.)