Saturday, December 3, 2011

Terrible pictures of Beautiful birds

I finally made it down to New Bern to see the Anna's Hummingbird that has been visiting the Berher's yard (lifer #1539!).

It didn't visit the feeder while I was there, but helpfully announced its presence by making some bizarre vocalizations from atop a tree in the yard.  It sat for several minutes and I was able to view it through my scope and take some distant photos. 
I guess the Anna's just wasn't thirsty today?
After awhile it zipped off with a flurry of angry-sounding tweets as if on an urgent mission. I might have stuck around hoping to get a view of its gorget illuminated by sun, but I had my own pressing plans...

I met the father-son combo of Michael and David McCloy at the powerline cut in Havelock.  We both had separately failed to find a Henslow's Sparrow here within the past year. So while we knew the site well, we only had vague ideas about where exactly was the best area to focus our effort.

It turned out that 'Y' marked the spot. At the junction of the two powerline cuts we were able to flush a lone Henslow's and with some patience got some fantastic looks of this gorgeous bird (lifer #1540).
I really need a camera I can focus manually

Hopefully Mike will get some photos up because mine suck.  This is the most beautiful sparrow I've ever seen.  In good light it shows an array of subdued green, yellow, orange and purple colors garnished with fine streaks and stripes. Its like a classy, understated version of the garish Painted Bunting.

We searched pretty thoroughly in the immediate vicinity, but were only able to find a handful of Swamp Sparrows near a wet area and a Chipping Sparrow along the gravel path. I wonder where this Henslow's friends are?

But satisfied with our looks, we headed down to Fort Macon.  Among the swirling gannets, gulls, terns, cormorants and loons we found 2 surprises: I spotted an immature jaeger, which we eventually decided was Parasitic and Mike found a Razorbill.

Razorbills sure are tough to spot when they're sitting on the water as this one was.  Luckily it reared up and fluttered its wings for me so I could pick it out of the chop. 

This Ruddy Turnstone mistook us for surf fishermen
We were so preoccupied with sea-watching we almost let this Ruddy Turnstone sneak up and steal our bait!

I've got to wake up super-early to meet John Fussell for tomorrow's birding for Barn Owl and Le Conte's Sparrow, so I better get to bed. Two lifers in hand today...two more in the bush tomorrow!


  1. I just stumbled across your blog. Congratulations on your lifers. I got one last Saturday here in Alaska, a European vagrant called a Redwing. Life bird #1,584.
    My camera is a point and shoot called a Fujifilm HS-10. It has manual focus when you need it for circumstances like the Henslow's Sparrow. 30x optical zoom as well.

  2. John, Thanks for the comment and the tip about the camera.

    Congrats on the redwing and on your gorgeous nature art. I took a quick look at your website and was very impressed!