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Fair Jordan

November 19, 2007
And so here we are dear reader(s), another in my series of trip reports with slightly awful pictures of birds I’ve seen. But first, if you’ll indulge me a bit I’ve some of personal news to impart. I have a new job. I am, as of the week after Thanksgiving, going to be the new Assistant Visitor Services Manager at the UNC Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. I’m rather excited to finally be working in the field I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid, and best of all, I’ll still be volunteering in the bird lab at the NC Natural Sciences Museum so I don’t have to give that up. I’m sure both of you who dig the museum posts will be glad to hear that. Anyway, on to the trip report…

The worst part about my new job is that it will now require me to work on Saturdays, so this was my last trip out with the members of the Chapel Hill Bird Club. I had hoped it would be a doozy and it was pretty close. We returned to Jordan Lake, but not the arm that we spent all that time earlier in the fall looking for shorebirds, this time we were interested in birds on the lake proper. So we had to find whatever open water was left by the rapidly receding shoreline. The best place for this was the Ebeneezer Point Recreational Area, situated on a peninsula that juts out into the reservoir. Nearly every rare bird that has been seen on Jordan Lake was first spotted from this point, I even discovered a small flock of Wilson’s Storm-Petrels from this point a couple years back after tropical storm Ernesto blew through, so I kinda love this place.

On the way to Ebeneezer, just off a causeway across the lake, we found this rather large flock of gulls. Finally, an opportunity to put my gulling to the test! They were mostly all Ring-billed Gulls in various stages with a few first and second cycle Herrings thrown in (You can probably see the Herrings in the picture to the left, they’re the big ones). A handfull of Bonaparte’s Gulls (mostly 1st cycle) rounded it out. Nothing unusual and exactly what we’d expect around here in the winter. Just another reason to be jealous of the birds you Northerners are getting these days, with all your crazy finches and gulls. The road in the picture is the bed from the old road across the river from before it was dammed. It’s usually submerged, we could use some water round here, yaknow?
Not 50 feet away from the gull flock sat a first year Bald Eagle. I think this arrangement spoke volumes as to this eagle’s perceived hunting prowess. Not thought of highly, apparently. Even when the raptor flew off the gulls were more interested in chasing each other than of any inclement threat. Also in the area was a solitary Dunlin still showing a black belly, amazingly enough. We drove on.

To the left is the swimming beach at Ebeneezer Point, I think they’ll have to truck in some more sand. The nice thing about the extendo-beach was that it truly was the perfect habitat for American Pipits, we found several of them tooling around on the dry mud, more on them later. A scan of the lake showed several small flocks of Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, and a couple rafts of American Coot, one of which included four lovely Redheads. The lake was also filled with Common Loons. They seemed to be transient as both of the first two loons we spotted immediately took flight and got the hell outta there. It’s always strange to see loon flying I think. They were, though immediately replaced by two more loons that just sort of appeared out of nowhere. As odd as it is to see loons flying it’s even stranger to watch them land. They remind me for all the world of kids on a Slip-n-Slide, barreling towards the water and hydroplaning for 15 feet or so till they come to a stop.

Further scanning of the lake provided us with a small flock of Horned Grebes, my first of the season and several of the regular Double-crested Corms which are year rounders out at Jordan. A flock of Rusty Blackbirds flew into a tree behind us but took off before I could get a photo and Juncos, Goldfinches, and Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers foraged on the lake bed along with the Pipits we had seen earlier. I managed a blurry photo of a Pipit.

One last stop had to be made in the area before we made the trip back to Chapel Hill. Near Jordan Lake there are three settlement ponds which always have a rather large flock of Bufflehead in the winter. Well, they’ve arrived as they always do. Oddly, this flock is always mono-specific, despite the ponds having no obvious advantages for Bufflehead over any other species of duck. In any case, it’s always worth checking just in case this is the year a Smew is hanging around with them. Not yet, but I’ll keep looking for you guys and you’ll be the first to know.

  1. Greg permalink
    November 19, 2007 6:04 pm

    Very similar to my Sunday trip in Missouri, as I saw many COLOs at Fellows Lake and gulls (No Herrings though) at Aldrich on Stockton Res. I missed on the divers, but got several dapplers.

  2. Greg permalink
    November 19, 2007 6:12 pm

    Oops, that should read “dabblers”….

  3. slybird permalink
    November 20, 2007 11:40 am

    “I’m sure both of you who dig the museum posts will be glad to hear that.”

    Theres only two of us? 😛

    We need to get more people interested in museums then…

  4. November 20, 2007 7:16 pm

    Amen Nick,

    From your mouth to the federal government’s ears…. : )

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