Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Falls Lake absurdity

Since classes resumed up birding opportunities have been woefully few and far between for me. The coincidence of the fall semester and fall migration, I suspect, is frustrating for many an academic birder.

So many odd birds have appeared at nearby Falls Lake in the past month it seems that every weekend it just has to be my birding destination.

There was the dark morph Parasitic Jaeger that Jeff Pippen found a couple weekends ago… perhaps the fourth record of the species in the North Carolina Piedmont. It was almost surely a relic from the recent passage of Hurricane Irene.

Here is my awful phone-scoped photo from about a mile away at Hickory Hills boat ramp. The white lump on the right is a Ring-billed Gull and the dark lump on the left is the jaeger.
Parasitic Jaeger with Ring-billed Gull (use your imagination)
Since the species relies on pilfering fish from other seabirds and there were just a few Caspian Terns around to compliment the lone gull as potential targets, I suspect this poor bird was exhausted and starved.  And likely doomed.

Then there was the American Oystercatcher that Steve Shultz stumbled upon. I didn’t bother to try phone-scoping this one, but it is apparently only the third record for the North Carolina piedmont.
American Oystercatcher
This picture is actually from Carteret County; I just figured I should include an Oystercatcher photo.  

All these trips to Falls Lake have kept me out of the woods hunting for warblers and other migrant passerines, which have been moving through in decent numbers over the past week. This is a bit of a tragedy since some really great birds have been turning up in the triangle, such as Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Wilson’s Warbler and Philadelphia Vireo, to name a few.

A silver lining to missing out on warblers was a large swallow flock at Ellerbe Creek that yielded my first Bank Swallow for North Carolina (#276).

Another was the gorgeous pair of American Avocets that has been be hanging around pools near the mouth of Ellerbe Creek.
American Avocet with prey
I had seen avocets before at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge at the coast, but never this close and never doing their characteristic sweep feeding!
Check out the video!

Oh and I had promised a photo of a confusing fall warbler.  Check out this one I saw at Ellerbe Creek. 
Confusing fall warbler!
What warbler shows a white eye ring, yellow lores, bold white wing bars and a bright yellow chest?

None of the warblers in my Sibley do.  A creative combination of different plumages of Pine Warbler could fit the description, but Pines don't generally hang out in low willow trees with Common Yellowthroats.  There also were no pine trees in the vicinity. 

Anyone have a suggestion?

What a silly ending to a post about not seeing warblers.  Even when I see them it's not like I can identify them anyway! =P


  1. I hate confusing fall warblers as well.

    Did it bob it's tail? If so, was a Prairie then. As it seems to fit your picture. Tennessee has the yellow eye stripe but only one wing bar.

  2. Looks like it could be an ugly Nashville too.

  3. Broken eyering, yellow lores and wingbars both point to Pine Warbler to me, albeit an extremely ratty one. I've seen them low before - not often, but it is around this time of year that they start to venture towards the ground and forage with the glut of Palm Warblers that should be moving in soon.