Monday, November 29, 2010

What do you do between fall migration and Christmas counts?

Hopefully your answer was to go birding anyway. And depending on your region and/or religion this question may be completely irrelevant.

For me this year, unfortunately, it meant mostly working on a bunch of midterms and applying for a grant from the National Science Foundation. Yuck.

Anyway that's my excuse for the hiatus from blogging...a lack of time and birds exciting enough to go see locally.

Of course birds are everywhere and you have to find a deep dark hole to miss them.

I stumbled upon this surprisingly tame Great Blue Heron at Duke Gardens on a walk with my family. Click the picture for a high-res view; you can see how banged-up their bills can get.

And I did get to go out with Robert Meehan to Falls Lake again. He promised me Rusty Blackbirds, which obligingly vanished from existence. But we did find a Lesser Black-backed Gull mixed in with some Ring-billeds and Herrings--not a bad find for the piedmont (I refuse to get excited over this bird was a new ABA bird for Robert, who claims it's only the 4th record
at Falls Lake
for Durham County, though I'm sure a fair few crusty veterans would beg to differ...see Robert's comment below)

See if you can find the Lesser Black-backed Gull in the photo! (hint: it has a black back). At least one of the other gulls thinks this is a boring (or hilarious?) game.

We also found a few late shorebirds: 2 Dunlin, a few dozen Least Sanpipers and one depressed-looking Greater Yellowlegs.

The highlight for me was a flock of about 60 American Pipits (NC bird #216 for me!)

Continuing with the game theme...

Can you guess what bird laid this egg??

Hint: I found (errr.... my guide found) this nest in the Ecuadorian Amazon at Tiputini Biodiversity Station, a rediculously spectacular (and remote!) birdwatching spot, which will be the topic of my next post. Heck, it's in the Yasuni, which rivals Peru's Manu for the title of "most biodiverse spot on the planet."

Hopefully that will bring you back for more!

Stay tuned...


  1. Didn't mean to mislead you there Scott! I have no doubt that there have been more than several records of Lesser Black-backed Gull on Falls Lake, most of these from the old landfill. However, these are all in Wake county, and our LBBG is (according to the Chat) the fourth record for Durham, Falls Lake or not. Which I'm perfectly fine with, makes a nice county bird ;)

  2. Just joined your blog this morning and wish I had joined a long time ago. This blog is fun and informative. Thanks for the photo of the Lesser black-backed gull; since other gulls are in the photo, it is easy to distinguish this bird from its cousin, the great BBG. Other field marks are the sooty-black (not jet-black of the great) and yellow legs (great BBG has fleshy-pink legs). I've seen them side-by-side on the shoreline at Daytona Beach, FL in the winter. Wish I had a photo of that!

  3. Another good place to look for (and maybe locate) American (Water) Pipits: Inwood Road off of Lake Wheeler Road. Inwood has no road sign, but it is just down the road from Yates Mill Park, and there is a church across the street from the turn. Inwood has the Back Archers Christmas Tree Farm on that road. You can just drive down that road slowly and see shrikes, kestrels, meadowlarks, pipits, killdeer, and in the pond I saw northern shovelers just two weeks ago. Nice surprise! The other pipit place is Mid Pines Road. Easiest way to get there: park at Yates Mill, walk across the bridges for the lake and marsh, and proceed OUT of the park past an iron gate into the agricultural fields; Mid Pines Road will be in the distance, and hopefully Pipits will be visible, too.

  4. @Robert: Yes, that makes more sense. Sorry for the misquote! I have edited the text.

    @Lynn: Thanks so much for the comments and the tip about the spot in Raleigh. Don't worry you really haven't missed much here as I just started this blog in August and you could easily browse through the other 5 posts in the archive.

    @ everyone else: Get those answers in for the mystery egg! I'll be posting on Tiputini soon...