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My Life’s Birds: #378-380

April 7, 2010
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October 1, 2005 – Jordan Lake, NC – When I first started birding as a teenager, the birding culture was a significantly different thing than it was when I got back into it in ten years later.   Those first few years were done before the internet revolution permeated every aspect of his life.  Crucial to finding out the best places to bird and the species to expect there, is getting involved in a local group.  But these days, with so much content on the interwebs, that’s not nearly as important.  That’s probably an entirely different post on whether that’s a good thing or not (and in my recent involvement in the Wake County Audubon Society indicates that it’s mixed), but for someone wanting to jump right in the field to see good stuff on day one the internet is an absolute boon.  No longer can the little hidy-holes expert birders have nurtured for years be kept secret and the proliferation of both information on where to find birds and how to identify birds has had a great positive effect on birding in general, at least in the opinion of this birder with an online presence.

Long story short, as my reawakening took place in a completely different state from where I was comfortable, I hit the internet in an attempt to find hotspots where a jones can be properly sated.  My research took me to Jordan Lake, the largest reservoir in the area and state-managed recreational area.  Zoning laws have thus far prevented development right up to the shores of the lake itself (though who knows how long that will last.  I’m looking at you town of Cary!) so the access points where boaters and swimmers congregate in the warmer months are forested and productive year round.  And even though October is far from the best month for birding Jordan Lake, I still started pulling in lifers immediately in the form of the ubiquitous Brown-headed Nuthatch which, somewhat amazingly, was a bird I hadn’t noted until this day, despite being one of the most common birds in my neighborhood.  That’s the power of birding to make apparent that which has always been right in front of your eyes.

Better than the nuthatch, though, were the lingering fall migrants.  Randomly pulling off the road to check out a trail cut by fishermen looking for easy access to the lakeside netted me a completely unexpected Cape May Warbler, a bird that’s pretty rare in Missouri but, in the years since, has turned out to be regular in the fall in this part of North Carolina.  As much as I enjoy seeing Cape Mays in the fall though, I’ve still never found one in the spring so I suppose you could say I’ve never really seen it.  Also notable in its fall subtlety was the Scarlet Tanager I found at Ebenezer Point, another bird for whom Missouri was too far west to find regularly but common in North Carolina.

This insight about the distribution and abundance of these species in North Carolina was something that came later.  At the time, I was just happy to have gone out on my own to a birding location for the first time ever (even in Missouri I had to lean on my dad for transportation) and picked up three life birds.  There’s no better way to start what I’d consider “serious” birding in North Carolina.

BRHENU by leshoward via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
SCATAN by Jerry Downs via flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

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One Comment
  1. April 8, 2010 7:44 am

    “SCATAN” – Wow. What an abbreviation.

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