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Crossing Chatham

December 6, 2010
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Today I’m taking off work to show the estimable Corey Finger of 10,000 Birds some southern hospitality, which hopefully will manifest itself in the form of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and, if we’re really lucky, Bachman’s Sparrow.  All that’s for him, incidentally, I’m totally cool with some county work in the Sandhills, an area wherein I could stand the spend a little time.  Plus showing people life birds is always a nice experience from a self-congratulatory perspective so, you know, I’m looking forward to that.

You can look forward to the report of what will be, at very least, a fun day in the field in a few days time.  That’s especially nice because it guarantees at least one exciting trip report this week, and I needed it.  My weekend excursion was pretty non-eventful, based, as it was, around picking up a handful of new ticks for Orange and Chatham Counties.  The first is my home county, and I’ve been stymied trying to find the waterfowl and shorebirds that are so easy elsewhere in the triangle.  There are few bodies of water of any size in Orange County, and the one that does exist, Cane Creek Reservoir, has limited access in the winter.  So my survey is limited to parking on a hill overlooking the water and scoping the parts of the reservoir that aren’t obscured by trees.  Needless to say, I didn’t find much save a flock of the ever-present Canada Geese.  Though the White-crowned Sparrows at the farm to the north are back again and added a bird to my year list.

So it was off to Ebenezer Point on Jordan Lake to see if I can salvage the day, and I mostly did.

There were several rafts of recently arrived Coots, including one closer to shore. Even better was a small flock of ducks in the middle of the lake consisting of three Gadwall and a pair of female Red-breasted Mergansers, not only a county bird but a new bird for my triangle list, an area consisting of Orange, Durham, Wake, Chatham, and a small portion of Granville Counties.

The gulls were there starting to arrive in numbers. The majority the expected Ring-bills and Bonaparte’s, but there were about a dozen first-cycle Herring Gulls in the flock as well, by far the most I’ve ever seen in one place in the region. I wonder if it has anything to do with the new landfill in nearby Holly Springs.  We could start seeing lots of gulls on Jordan Lake going forward, and a sharp birder might be able to pick something good out of the groups as both Black-backed Gulls are usually around in small numbers wherever there’s trash,and they’re no doubt roosting at Jordan Lake.

My second county bird was the correction of a massive oversight.  I finally picked up White-throated Sparrow for Chatham, a fairly egregious miss for a county list that contains goodies like Wood Stork and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.  It was a long time coming, but that’s finally a door closed.  Now to find a Brown Creeper.

Not a bad day!  Here’s hoping today is more exciting though.

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4 Comments
  1. December 6, 2010 7:16 am

    Have a wonderful day birding.

    Jeff and I went to Weymouth on Saturday..Saw lots of birds especially near the water area…The hollies still have lots of berries. We spoke to our friend ranger Scott..the Cockaded come in to the feeders…if you dont see them in the pines check there.

    There were some singing Fox Sparrows on a lower loop path..that was cool.

    Lots of Red headed and Piliated woodpeckers. Tons of Robins, waxwings. Didnt see the Bachmans..I am sure you know where they hang out.

    Have a wonderful time…wish we could join you… we are off to Raleigh for a Costco, Trader joes, Whole foods and more run.

  2. December 6, 2010 8:19 am

    How can you see and photograph, yet not mention a Brown Thrasher, one of the übercool birds of North America?

    And good luck with Cutlass – if you just do whatever he tells you to and always duck, bow and whinge a little, he may not do you bodily harm. However, if he has seen all three “specials” and has no use for you anymore, beware my friend!

    Yeah, the best of luck, wish I could join you!! 🙂

  3. BirdTrainerRobert permalink
    December 6, 2010 12:59 pm

    Good to know those White-crowned Sparrows are back. They’d be a lifer for my brother, so I’ll have to take a trip down there with him in a couple weeks when he gets back from school.

  4. Nate permalink*
    December 9, 2010 8:47 am

    @Dawn- Too bad we missed yo. Maybe next time!

    @Jochen- I suppose I’m lucky I kept the Bachman’s Sparrow as a carrot. So long as we didn’t see it, Corey had use for me.

    @Robert- Yup, they’re in the regular place. It was windy so they were tucked back in the woods a bit, but on a better day there should be many. I talked to Doug from CHBC and he said he had up to 60 last month, which seems amazing to me.

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