Thursday, May 9, 2013

Birding, Post-Big Day

I've spent the past few days struggling to find any year-listers - it's almost like I saw every bird on the big day and there are no more left to see.  I went to Lake Crabtree, and ended up walking four miles to try to see a Laughing Gull (which would have been a new Wake County bird for me).  I was a day late - the big storm that blew them in had all but disappeared, leaving me with sunny 80 degree weather. Along the trail, I managed to hear a Worm-eating Warbler, see a Black-throated Blue, and stare into the dark, wet eyes of a Barred Owl.  None of these were new, but I did compile my longest solo list to date - 51 species.  A small personal victory: fifty was a milestone I couldn't seem to pass.

I tried Bass Lake Wednesday to no avail, and left empty-handed.  I got a quick glance of what I thought might have been a Broad-winged Hawk, but when it reappeared it was obviously a Red-shouldered.  Wishful thinking, I guess.  I ended up just watching the resident Barn Swallows fly in and out of their nests, chattering to each other and their babies.  

Today I drove a quarter mile from my house to Monument Park, an obscure little grove right next to downtown Holly Springs.  The "Holly Springs" for which the town is named are actually located in the park, but no one seems to take any notice.  Because the area gets little human disturbance, the bird life is pretty good (considering the location in a populated area).   I spotted a vibrant male Scarlet Tanager, a crimson beauty with striking black wings.  It was the first one I've actually seen this year; I heard one at Schenck Forest over the weekend.  I was walking next to the "Holly Springs" (which are not very impressive, by the way) when I spotted a perched Swainson's Thrush angled skyward on a small tree limb - a lifer!  Then, almost on cue, I heard two distant Eastern Wood-Pewees, a year-lister that has evaded me far too long.  EWPE was also my 150th species in Wake County this year, which is more than I saw in the entire state all last year.  Migrants such as the Swainson's Thrush have certainly helped me reach this total.

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