Sanderlings in the surf
Friday, January 12, 2018
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.
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.
Every day is a new Adventure.