Monday, December 29, 2014

Birthday Trip, County Bird #100!

Today is my birthday! I turn the ripe old age of 16, which means a lot of things. I can drive legally, have a job (well, I got a head start), and basically be a teen. I actually can't believe it; time has passed so fast!

Anyways, today was a gloomy and rainy day, but I decided to make the best of it. I visited Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge, one of the best birding spots in the Piedmont (or so I'm told). It was a bit chilly but the rain earlier made it very humid. The forest was very flooded down on the boardwalk. Some of the birds I first heard and saw were Pied-billed Grebe, Rusty Blackbird, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Northern Flickers and a Pileated Woodpecker called out too. I investigated the boardwalk/pond area and found Chipping, Song, and Field Sparrows in the marsh. On the lake were more grebes and many unknown ducks flew very high. In the flooded forest were plenty of Red-headed Woodpeckers, calling out repeatedly. Pine Siskins flocked deeper in the forest, probably eating gum tree seeds. Wood Ducks wailed deeper in the forest, and although they were tough to see I did see some. I heard them throughout the day.

Here is some interesting fungi I found growing on a stump.
It was very fun but honestly I didn't find anything too interesting. I was hoping for Northern Bobwhites, Wilson's Snipe, or more ducks, but I found the usual assortment of resident and winter birds.

So I did not see any lifers on my birthday, but I did see something interesting! Near where I live is a movie theater with a man-made pond. It's a quiet pond that is rather large, and every once in a while I ask to go check it out. It paid off today, for I found a lone male Lesser Scaup! It was pretty dusky when I found him, though, so the pictures are bad.

This makes me at 100 species for Union County! I was very pleased to find him here and hopefully he brings some friends over! I was concerned that I would never find ducks there... but I'm glad I have!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Visit

I haven't been able to bird lately, with school and work consuming most of my time. But I was extremely pleased when I noticed something scaling up our pine tree in the backyard. A female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker wad circling the trunk, delicately drilling her sap wells! I actually have never seen a sapsucker... suck sap, so this was a first. After she left I went out and investigated the wells she had drilled. They weren't in neat rows like pictures I had seen, but instead in a row spiraling up the trunk. Many were pretty fresh, with the sap flowing pretty constantly.

This isn't the same exact individual (this is a male), but I never get tired of these winter woodpeckers!
She makes Woodpecker Species #3 for my backyard- I have a Downy who comes almost daily and once a Red-bellied Woodpecker landed in my neighbor's yard. (I count those too!) I think she showed up once last year, for I did see a pretty ratty sapsucker once, and she's not the prettiest sapsucker I've seen. But she's pretty, I think- her belly is mottled with charcoal-like smudges and a wash of yellow. She has a red cap that reminds me of a Hairy Woodpecker juvenile and her back is a mosaic of black, white, buff, and some yellow.

I hope to get some pictures of her soon, and hopefully she comes back next winter! I really enjoy watching her drill wells in the bark. If I'm lucky I'll get a Rufous Hummingbird checking out the wells!

In other news, I finally got some pictures of a Pine Siskin! I've seen them before but that was while waiting for the bus at the bus stop. This time is was at Cane Creek Park, where they were foraging in gumball trees with American Goldfinches.

They remind me of European Goldfinches in that their wings have hidden flashes of yellow. The American Goldfinches also sometimes sound like their European counterparts so sometimes I have to double-check to make sure!

I also snagged a great picture of a Cooper's Hawk at Santee NWR! It was taken a while ago, and I forgot to make a post about it, but I really like it!

He was perched on a Speed Limit sign- we drove right next to him!
Hopefully you're having better birding trips than I. I'm hoping over Winter Break I can convince my parents to go check out a Western Tanager! That would be a life, state, county (although I have barely birded in McDowell County), year, season... you get the idea. I'm not crazy about listing (I mainly care about Union County, my home county, year list, and life list) and I'm waayyy too lazy to keep up with all that.

If I don't make a post before Christmas, happy holidays! I know I'll make a post on/after my birthday, though! Here's to hoping to go to Pee Dee NWR!