Saturday, March 2, 2013

Northern Lapwing (and more!)

Sunday, a report went out of a super-rare bird in North Carolina - for only the third time in history.  It was the Northern Lapwing, a spectacular crested green and white plover from Europe, and an ABA Class 4 bird (very rare visitor to North America).  It was hanging out at a pond behind a church in Person County, about an hour and a half northwest of Raleigh.
Many birders made the pilgrimage to see the bird this week, and it was my turn to see it.  We (myself and two friends) came up on Thursday afternoon with high hopes, but there was no sign of the bird, and left very disappointed. So, Saturday morning we went with my Dad for our second shot at this once-in-a-lifetime bird. After leaving home at 6:40 AM and driving up, we came upon several other birders already set up.  Within a few minutes, we had spotted the Northern Lapwing. Despite the distance, I managed to snap some photos that at least show that it's a Lapwing.  Lapwings have a unique flight style, and they have wings that seem a bit too big for their body.  They take slow wingbeats in an almost owl-like manner, very different from a typical plover.  We observed the bird for about 40 minutes and left the area satisfied.  Here are some of my shots of the best bird I've ever seen:

Next up on the to-do list was a rare White-winged Scoter (a sea duck) that had been at Lake Crabtree back in Wake County for several days.  It would be a lifer for me, so I really wanted to see it.  We pulled up to the parking area, and again, we saw the Scoter (bird #143 for the year) within several minutes of getting there.  It was on the opposite shore, swimming with about 50 Ring-billed Gulls.  I got another pretty bad picture for ID purposes and we continued down the path, seeing several sparrows, some Pied-billed Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers, and a stunning Red-headed Woodpecker.

Another great weekend for me, the third in a row where I've gotten more than one lifer.  I really hope I can keep up this pace!

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