Monday, January 20, 2014

Western Kingbird in Georgetown County, SC

This past weekend was spent birding around Georgetown County on the coast of South Carolina, particularly in Debordieu, a community where my friend Edward's family owns a beach house.  Lucky for us, this gave us access to a very "birdy" area.  On Friday just after we arrived, Edward, Sam, and I opted to go for birding for a few hours before dinner.  We focused our search on the extensive marshes in the area.  We heard several Clapper Rails calling from the deep within the grasses - always a good sound.  We tried to play some Virginia Rail calls to get a response, but we could only find the Clappers.

While we were playing the call, a large-ish passerine flew overhead.  We all optimistically thought it would be a rarity, so we ran over to investigate. The bird was sitting on a power line not too far away.  We all raised our binoculars.  It was a Western Kingbird! A rare find on the East Coast, and a lifer for me - in fact, it was my 350th life bird.  Western Kingbirds are pretty, well... pretty - its yellow breast is complemented by its beautiful ash-colored head and dark gray wings.  I love flycatchers, and this is certainly one of my favorites I've seen.  We watched the bird fly-catch for a few minutes, and I managed a few photos.  Then, just as quickly as it came, the kingbird flew off, not to be seen again (at least not by us).  This trip was going to be a good one; we could feel it.
Western Kingbird
After the success of the Western Kingbird, we decided to look for Screech Owls in longleaf forest on the north end of town.  Three were calling, and I finally got to hear the "whinny" call (usually I just hear the trills).  It was a great end to a fantastic few hours of birding.  The self-found kingbird was the highlight of the year so far.

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