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South by Southport

January 31, 2012
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This past weekend was the winter meeting of the Carolina Bird Club in Southport along the southern coast of NC.  I’d been intending to go to one of these meetings for some time, but they always fell on the same weekend of the Super Bowl of Birding in Massachusetts, so until this January, I’d never had the weekend open.  But this year I was even asked to help lead a field trip, so on Saturday I was in charge of the target grand tour, otherwise known as the broomwagon, seeking to sweep up all the good birds found on the first day of the meeting.

It was a fun trip with some excited birders, and we had such North Carolina goodies as Harlequin Duck and Razorbill, as well as Lesser Black-backed Gull and Common Goldeneye.  A day leading a trip meant that my photo ops were few and far between, but the next day saw me out with a fun group of guys that include Scott Winton, Robert Meehan, Mike McCloy and Mark Kosiewski.  We spend another day hunting targets and netting a far few good birds.  I ended with no new birds for the state, but a whole bunch of county birds, 33 in all, for New Hanover County and the Wilmington area.  not a bad day.

Here’s a few photos in lieu of in depth play-by-play:

Ruddy Turnstones ran around on the Wrightsville Beach pier like common starlings.  How beneath them.

Birders looking for, and failing to find, a Pacific Loon that had been occasionally passing by.

Lots of these guys though…

Three Harlequin Ducks have been present around the breakwater on the south end of Wrightsville Beach for the better part of a month now.  We saw them both days.  It’s never a bad day if a Harlequin is involved.

Best bird of the weekend?  A good candidate.  This apparent Black-chinned Hummingbird was visiting a feeder in Wilmington.  With the long, decirved bill and the explosive tail-pumping action, this is about as close as you can get to calling one in the field.  The bander is scheduled to come down this week, so we’ll get confirmation either way soon.  But it looks good to me.

It was a great weekend with lots of new faces to put to names, which is one of the highlights of gatherings like these. I’ll have to do it again soon!

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