My predictions of a slow day seemed to be panning out as I trudged down the beach toward Cape Point on Hatteras Island. I had high hopes for Iceland Gull, but there wasn't one to be seen. Just lots of trucks, everywhere. I started making my way toward a large flock of gulls, but before I could scope it, someone walked into them, scattering the birds everywhere. So much for that.
|A decidedly bird-less Cape Point. As I was standing here, Neil Hayward was just offshore breaking the ABA big year record with a Great Skua sighting!|
|The most crowded I've ever seen this parking area.|
Where everyone was standing, however, was not within sight of the bird. Most of the other birders had seen it fly in from the sound and land in the dunes - but had lost it almost immediately. We all scanned the sandy expanse before us, to no avail. The owl obviously wanted to remain hidden, but at least they got it for the Pea Island Christmas Bird Count.
We began the long drive back home, but with two more stops planned. A Say's Phoebe had been reported from the same exit off US-64 where I had seen the Cackling Geese the day before. It was too close to the highway to resist stopping. We pulled off the highway and looked around - nothing. It seemed like this would be our first miss of the trip, but we decided to drive down the dirt road just a little further. We reached a chain-link gate blocking the road, and a small flycatcher flew out of nowhere and perched on it. It was the Say's Phoebe! I had seen one in Utah last year, but this bird is very rare in NC - only 9 have been seen in the state. This was my 270th life bird in North Carolina!
|9th state record Say's Phoebe|
|The cinnamon-colored belly of the Say's Phoebe helps distinguish it from the Eastern Phoebe.|
|Two Sandhill Cranes behind the Tundra Swans.|