Friday, March 26, 2021

Whats in a Wetland?

After my fast trip to Huntington Beach State Park to see the Dovekie, I've been hanging close to the local spots around me. So hodge podge is what this one is, I've been combining some errand runs with local birding, and dodging more rainy days...but the end of last week was nice blue sky daffodils 

the ones that didn't bloom are the paper whites and they bloomed this week.  I wish I had more paperwhites so I need to make a note to get more in the fall.   These below are the Tee'aTee 

Lettuce and Swiss Chard growing in the garden tub all fort
knoxxed up against deer and squirrel  

It mine all but it wont keep the slugs out.  

Still Pine Siskins in the yard.

They fool me when they start singing.  I think they will be heading out soon.  I reported 10 to ebird, ebird said that's a lot for this time of year...the next day I had 25 in the 

And a few Purple Finch too...

On Sunday it was sunny,  I like to go to the racetrack on Sunday when the horses are not using the track that is a rest day for them...I check the pond and the trees there.  Pond had nothing..but in the trees I found

The Ruby Crowned Kinglet sizing up some very large berries...

The American Kestrel showing off all his brilliant colors. 

He was eyeing up a caterpillar and he swooped down and got it..

I stopped at Goodale Park on the way to a grocery run, and found a Red-breasted Merganser in the pond, first one I've reported was unfortunate in silhouette, and he flew away fast I took these shots from the car window when I first rolled up. I tired to edit the photo but it was worse, so this is what I got....

Just needed some light on it...

Yellow Rump Warbler, Myrtle

Then I heard a drumming, when I got out of the van this Yellow Bellied Sapsucker was busy making  a nice straight lines of pretty big holes to fill with sap.  Nice strong light on him...

Meanwhile the Mallards were busy in the pond...

Sometimes you're better off with your butt in the air...

I think the females are on nests already they didn't come out until the males started to call them...

Had my FOY Brown headed Cowbirds, not a good bird to have but its natures way...

I checked on the Pitcher Plants, there's 3 clumps near the pond, 

A pair of Wood Duck seem to be getting ready to nest
 I saw them check out some nesting boxes. One fisherman who had canoed around told me that none of the nest boxes are in good shape.  So the park is not keeping them in good usable condition...sadly. Our parks service is doing us a disservice.  See our park has no campground and has no entrance fee, so it gets NO full time ranger.  We have a part time asst ranger who has no staff...he has to keep up the grounds and do the canoe rentals etc...HE is only in the office one hr per day.  And now he is getting a promotion and moving to Dreher Island State I have to wonder what we will have now.  It's not that the State doesn't have the money they just don't allocate it.  

The box they flew  on to inspect has not Top on it, I did see that. 

On my next errand day I stopped at the Riverside Park, and took a walk on the new "cement walkway"  it is better than walking in the soggy ground, but Im not a fan.

LOTS of American Robins that day...

I took one whole day to go to Lee County.  Finally got a shot of the
FOY Blue Grey Gnatcatcher...

The pollen has already to collect on the top of the ponds, and it looks nasty..

This is a new find,  may have a beaver, Im gonna keep a check on it.  AND I went to the old fav beaver pond where there is no beaver anymore it is changing there quickly... much drier than it should be...There is marsh, and there is swamp...A marsh provides food and habitat for many species, A swamp not so much...good for warblers tho because a swamp has more mosquitos, and biting flies! Wetland marsh is more beneficial than swamps imo.  So I asked google the difference and here is what I got:

The world's wetlands are ecosystems in themselves, and are defined by the flora and fauna they support. Marshes are nutrient-rich wetlands that support a variety of reeds and grasses, while swamps are defined by their ability to support woody plants and trees.

 I went to check out the Eagle nest, this immature one still had an adult with him... he is big enough to fledge, sometimes the adults just fly away from the nest and leave the young inside after he has fledged, he can hunt from his familiar post.

I compared this photo with ones from the past and this tree suffered damage, it used to have another big truck section behind the nest...this nest is very exposed now. 

3 months ago

March of 2019 

this is from a different vantage point also but you can see the large trunk section has fallen off...and it had to happen during this year's occupation too.  So this young eagle has had some hardships to over come Id say. 

And a pair of Canada Geese seem to be nesting here on the old beaver dam side....I keep hoping another beaver will come along to save this wetland from becoming a swamp. 

The ever watchful Belted Kingbird...

And before you know it another week is  over.... a stop at Goodale's on the way this time along with the Mallards who Im sure are nesting in the cove in the back,  was an American Widgeon another first for me to record there...

That was a good surprise

And this really BIG Gator was cruising at the back of the pond...pretty far away but I will share this grainy image with you anyways...

And I've been hearing them a week now and got a couple shots of the
Yellow Throated Warbler.  

Then a few days  of rainy, drizzly, and wind not so fun weather and I did chores at  home mostly and some more photo sorting to try and replace the lost Flickr hosting in my old posts...Im making such a small dent but it's a good way to spend the evenings...I found out if I combine a quick stop for birding along with grocery shopping and errand runs it does 2 things, it saves gas, and make the shopping bearable. 

             By permission RH

Now here is a little treat for you...a Great Find!!  My sis and her husband took a trip to Bosque del Apache and the surrounding area and they saw some awesome birds...My brother in law  spotted this Porcupine in a tree and took this photo...he has graciously allowed me to share it...I thought this little guy has the sweetest face no wonder he needs those quills to protect him....

See ya next week...

Every day is a new Adventure.

Friday, March 19, 2021

A good week...

The first week of March was a busy week for me...I think it took me 3 days to recover from all the walking I did on my camp trip.   Once I was rested up and ready to get at it again I went to Sandhills to see what was going on.  I like to park and hike in the area of Martin's Lake its diverse in that area...I parked the van got out and immediately smelled smoke,,,Boy spring is a tough time of year,  this shot illustrates how smoke and smog can block out the sunshine...check the lake where its dull under the cloud and blue on the edge where the smoke is not blocking. 

Soon the wind changed direction and that made it a lot better for me.,,and the geese 

And the Killdeer running around the edges of the lake...

Again I ran into the Swamp Sparrows in the weird white web stuff I still cant figure out what that stuff is.   T his little one was doing a split with a leg on opposing twigs. 

I really love the white pattern on his back...

I walked around the edge of the lake as far as I could go without tromping into the unmowed parts which is no fun, and stirred up some Savannah Sparrow hunting in the edges of the field grass...

Another beautiful Sparrow,  

The safest place to be in a fire is in the lake! 

On another day later in the week....I wanted to check out this spot I had never been to so I went..

But with all the rain we had most of the trail was flooded, I met two guys on the way out and they told me the water was over their shoes, so they suggested taking the Yellow short cut I did..It cut through from marker 6 to 15 on the map above.  

And there were few birds down where I could see them...

red headed woodpecker

If you check the trail map again you see where the trial follows the river at marker 15, so once I got over there it was nice to hear the rushing water, the  Congaree Creek, 

It felt weird to see an Anhinga so deep into the woods, 

this section was not too wet, but

most parts  were extremely I didn't get away completely dry.  

Took me an hour to get these boots cleaned up.  

That night I was catching up with my email and the SC Rare bird list...and for the 3rd day in a row a RARE bird had been seen at Huntington Beach State Park, where I had been only last week day 2 of my camp trip....and seen the Long Tailed Duck.   So I kinda had in the back of my mind, that I would like to go back again...

In the morning I woke up at 6am and was on the road by 7 ish and headed that way.  I was on the beach by 10 am after arriving, getting into the park and there was a line of cars waiting to pay,  drove to parking, got my gear together, put on ALL my clothes.   It was COLD, and the wind was out of the North...BRRRRRR.   I had on 4 layers and never took one single layer off all day.  

fat bikes seem to be the fav these days and most of them were ebikes

The sun was not out either...Right away I stopped to scan the water found much of the same I had found last week, with Horned Grebes ducking thru the breakers...and then someone came up and said,
 "I know why you're here."
"Oh yeah?"
He said,  "to see the Dovekie!" 

Yes I said Dovekie. The Little Auk!  These birds don't come here...period. 
Here is a map of their normal range.  

From Cornell Labs 

"Despite being one of the most abundant seabirds of the Northern Hemisphere, Dovekies live so far north that relatively few bird watchers get to see them"

 So I met Andy and we walked the almost 2 miles to the Jetty together...sure made the walk go faster to have someone to share bird stories from this location in the past. 

A Bonaparte's Gull in the surf...

A flock of Sanderlings rushed in and out along the edges, the day was on the foggy dull side also...and this made me wonder if we would be able to see anything once we got down there.  The long 2 mile walk to the jetty facing a headwind!!

On the way we encountered returning birders who said they saw it,..and some Purple Sandpiper also on the rocks...and we were told to head to the sea end of the jetty...So we did. 

Talk about a needle in a haystack, the large flock of Ruddy Turnstones camo'd that Purple Sandpiper pretty well can you pick it out?  This shot has 1 Sanderling, 2 Ruddy Turnstones, and 1 Purple Sandpiper. 

See him just about to fall off the rock on the left...LoL...very hard to pick out of this group...

 Andy had a good eye and right away we marched down the Jetty and found the little dot which we verified pretty much to be our target bird, then about that time a boat came by and scared him away... we scanned and the water on the channel side of the Jetty  was choppy, I noticed the water was calmer on the Ocean side of the jetty and kept hoping the little auk would figure that out.   By now we had hooked up with 2 other birders, Tammy and Petra and with 4 pairs of eyes searching he didn't stand a chance of not being seen...then Andy said "there  he goes."  This tiny little football shaped object was actually flying to the calmer side as I had hoped he would..

AND believe it or not  he landed on the rocks right behind us!!

I was at the back of the line and got everyone in my sights as they zeroed in the Dovekie...then I got closer..

There he is!

And then the shutters began to click like it was Prince Harry and Megan, and there he was just sitting there tiny little thing no bigger than the Turnstones nearby.

Thats Andy up front and Petra, and Tammy was behind me now...Im not in the picture cause I took the 

He preened and we watched 

Then  he waddled back into the water...and floated around.

Life Bird for all of us! 

Andy wanted to see the Long tailed Duck and it did fly by so he was happy I took a walk to see a group of shorebirds, mostly Dunlin, with some others mixed in like the Black Bellied Plover and about then my SD card was full...I had left my 64 GB card at home, and found a spare one luckily in my camera bag but only 2GB so the rest of the day I enjoyed just looking and Andy's battery died so between the 2 of us we had nothing going on recording the rest of the day!! LoL

Dunlin, Semipalmated Plover, and a piece of trash *grrrrrr

Black Bellied Plover

It was a cold but very rewarding day...the Dovekie is still being reported and  exciting birders from all over the state who are coming to see him... I was home before dark, and super pleased with the day  and meeting some nice people. I imagine some people came in from other states a shot in the arm for the park and Georgetown county. 

Every day is a new Adventure.