Friday, January 12, 2018

Twitching!

The main goal of twitching is often to accumulate species on one's lists. Some birders engage in competition to accumulate the longest species list. The act of the pursuit itself is referred to as a twitch or a chase. A rare bird that stays put long enough for people to see it is twitchable or chaseable.

But it's not just about the numbers it's about the experience and the effort! Otherwise I wouldn't have been here yesterday!  The only competition going on here is between me, myself, and I. 

                              boardwalk at Huntington Beach State Park

I had no intentions of becoming a twitcher but why not, if I can do it.  As I've mentioned I want to step up my birding when I saw that I may have a shot of making it to 500, I thought it's worth a try.  Now I know that is low by most people's standards..but I spent 2 decades raising a child so I am playing catch up.

                                      a very heavy sea mist just wouldn't lift

I saw a few birds I was in need of rare e-listed for the coastal SC region. Ones I had hopes of were Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter, and King Eider.  So with 3 possibles I jumped up and packed the van for an overnight trip!
So awesome to be able to be spontaneous, something I have not always been privy to.  I did however decide to leave the big dogs at home.  I knew they would be fine one night alone...but it is the very first night they have ever been home alone in their 9 1/2 yrs!  

                       no scaup in the pond, some Bufflehead and Rudy duck


                                        Sanderlings in the surf

I left late in the afternoon after giving the girls their dinner and assuring them I will be back....and hit the highway.  Casey came along as he is old and prone to some dementia, he gets into trouble pretty easy. I arrived to my campsite after dark, and basically ate some dinner and  hit the hay...

top: great blue heron, middle: tri-colored heron, and bottom: greater yellowlegs 

In the morning I enjoyed lots of song birds in my camp site while I made coffee and breakfast.  I have no photos of those guys as I was hurrying trying to get my food eaten and break camp...I took Casey for his long walk and we saw Cedar Waxwings and tons of Yellow Rumped (Myrtle) Warblers, probably 100 in the trees.  Then once Casey was secured in the van, I went and took all the photos shown above while I looked for the Greater Scaup, that I dipped on.  And quite frankly the tide was out and I didn't see much.  This spot used to produce tons of birds, just didn't see the numbers here that I have seen in the past.  The recent cold blast may have moved them farther south.   

                            I went with  Dunlin? Winter plumage peeps I wish they wore signs on their necks.  

I kept going back n forth between Western and Dunlin on the peeps in the mud flats... finally I just stuck with Dunlin.  Another birder and his wife were asking me the same thing, I said I wish they had signs around their necks! He brought out the Sibley's, and yet we could not be 100%. 
There was a Harlequin Duck spotted down on the jetty, but I decided to use that time to drive up to Myrtle Beach where the Eider had been spotted.  I saw Harlequin Duck  in the Port Townsend Bay in WA.  I heard later that the sea mist was so heavy no one saw the Harlequin that morning...and that mist refused to lift even as the morning passed to noon. 

                                                                the Grand Strand 

The Eider and Scoter had been spotted at the 2nd Ave Fishing Pier.  Winter season the pier is closed so that meant searching for the bird from the shore as the tide was coming in.  Would have been easy peasy from the pier but to the wet sand I went.  

                                                             2nd  Ave N pier

Fortunately for me a lady was walking back with a scope on her shoulder...so I asked..and she was so nice she walked me right to where she spotted it and set her scope back up so I got a good look... not just of the Eider but the White Winged Scoters too.  CaChing!  She was so nice and her name just went right into the back of my mind! She had driven down from Cape Lookout where she had been working as a temporary Ranger, but unfortunately she just got laid off for the season.  I almost think I have met her before maybe at Congaree NP where she has also worked.  

                                                                            incoming tide

It may not look it but it was cold and windy and the waves were rolling big...the ducks would appear on the crest then suddenly disappear as they rolled over the wave so they were up then gone every couple seconds! While I stood there with my face glued to my binoculars the tide got my feet wet! AHHHHHHHHHHHRRR. Soaking wet cold feet. Ok there she is...


And then the Scoters too...


Lousy photos but considering  the mist, movement, and distance I was thrilled!


The King Eider Female. 


She would make her way up to the piling and eat a few barnacles off the wood, then the tide would pull her back away from the pier and she would try again...


These fishermen did set up on the pier...about 50 Double Crested Cormorants!


On my way back to the van, a young girl with a camera on a tripod thrown over her shoulder was walking toward me, so she asked me the same thing I had asked the Ranger lady, and I did the same for her, took her to the shore and pointed out the Rare Bird! Gotta pay it forward.  


PEACE
Every day is a new Adventure.

14 comments:

  1. Hello, congrats on your sightings. I have seen a lot of the Harlequins, Eiders and Scoters along the NJ coastline in the winter months. Wonderful birds, photos and scenic views. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

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    1. Thanks Eileen...I lived near the coast for a while but I worked so much had little time to enjoy the benefit of that location. I was happy to see these 2.

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  2. Success once again. Nice of the Ranger Lady to show you the spot and nice of you to pass it on to the next person. Nice having the van to just head out like that.

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    1. It was a stroke of luck that I ran into her and she told me she had been there for hours looking so she saved me all that effort....which I dearly appreciated! The van is such an addition to my life..it's old and makes some scary sounds but I figure to keep rolling till it refuses to roll! IF I had the money I'd get a small C and tow a Smart Car. This way my dogs could wait for me in comfort and no one would bother them. I guess I should buy more lottery tickets?

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  3. I always look at the local bird info and if there is something near me I'll go along for a look. I like the Eiders and especially Dunlins when there's a flock of them. Great long shot of the pier. Somebody has to win the lottery, I was only reading about that young lad who won the jackpot the other day.

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    1. I have to get a lotto ticket! It is fun to go in search of something and actually find it!

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  4. Ah to be able to just head off like that, I look forward to when I can! Nice of the ranger to point out the birds and of course paying it forward is the way to go :) Eider's are stunning birds, I've only ever seen one and that was quite a few years ago.

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    1. Hi Pam, I am enjoying being retired, the hard part is everything I want to do is not in the budget! :o(

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  5. Huge congratulations are in order!! Wonderful. I have only ever heard the word 'twitcher' in England (and on British shows on Netflix)....in my opinion, it is a title to be proud of and you qualify!!

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    1. Well it sounds all cool n stuff...lol I have been binge watching Breaking Bad, and I like Jesse's catch phrase, "Mad Skills", I'm just waiting on the opportunity to say that.

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  6. Congrats on those lifers!! I have no doubt you'll get to 500 knowing your determination. Those diving ducks don't make it easy on you, especially in fog and mist!

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    1. Hi Jen! Totally was a challenge and especially after the wave completely wet my feet! That shocked me back into reality pretty fast...I dipped on long tailed duck on Saturday. Now Gr Scaup and another sighting of Long Tailed duck has me thinking I need to take a ride today!!

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  7. Kudos to you. Keep on pluggin' away and before you know it you'll be at 600!

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    1. Hi David, thanks for the vote of confidence, Yes for sure won't stop at 500!! It's quite addictive.

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