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The calm before the storm

February 11, 2008

This morning I leave for what is the first of likely my last time east while winter birds are still around. Needless to say, it’s pretty important and I’ve got several species targeted that are kind of hit or miss for me. This Big Year thing, it’s a rough game.

Even if I miss those birds I’ll still have a good time. I’m finally heading out to Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina’s largest natural lake and one of the best birding spots in the state. It’s gonna be good and you’ll likely hear about it tomorrow, but that’s another day. With such a big birding day on the horizon I decided to keep it close to home yesterday morning, returning to Jordan Lake just to see if there’s anything exciting in my backyard. Besides, there are a few common winter birds I can get close to home that I have yet to run into (wherefore art thou, Winter Wren?)

It was a beautiful morning weatherwise, if a bit windy, but the birds, the birds were not cooperating. For starters, my favorite lake access point, Ebeneezer point was closed for maintenance, limiting me to the west side of the lake which just so happened to be on the wrong side of the sun. Birds were slow and common, both regular grebes (Pied-billed and Horned), both gulls (Bonie and Ring-billed), a few Buffleheads and a handful of Mallards. The balance of the Double-crested Cormorants were too distant to peruse for the odd Great and the recent rains had raised the water level enough to cover the popular gull roost. Bad luck all around.

So with an early morning looming I decided to head out to the fields and farms of western Orange County to look for pipits, sparrows and raptors. The pipits were no-shows but I did swing by the one place in Orange County where you can find White-crowned Sparrows and turned up several of them. They were new birds for the year, sure, but I had kinda been holding them in my back pocket for a day like today where everything else was proving to be too elusive.

Crowns in the bag I headed home to spend time with the wife before heading out early this morning. Wish me luck, it’s gonna be a good day. Report to come…

One Comment
  1. Greg permalink
    February 11, 2008 9:33 am

    As I sit here wondering what I’ll do on this icy “snow day” break from school, I’m wishing I was joining you on your big trip eastward. NC is calling……

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