Along the drive, we spotted a Harrier, Merlin, and several duck species, including a few Green-winged Teal and Gadwall. There was also a flock of over a thousand Red-winged Blackbirds flying over the fields - it's always cool to watch a flock's undulating, rhythmic motions in flight. Another mile or so down the road, we decided to embark on a short quarter-mile walk to a duck blind on the shore of Pungo. Much to our surprise, an Eastern Screech Owl began calling - it was mid-afternoon! This was the first Screech Owl I've heard without using playback, and it gave the experience a more "natural" feel. But I still couldn't manage to spot the little guy - I still have yet to actually see a Screecher. The duck blind yielded few actual ducks, with the exception of a flock or two of American Wigeon. The entryway to the blind also had dangerously low planks of wood along the top, which I had to duck to walk under (how fitting). The rest of the drive was relatively uneventful, seeing a few more common species.
Our next stop was a trip to Pettigrew State Park, on the shore of Lake Phelps, to listen for a mysterious owl that was heard calling there. We pulled up to Somerset Place about half an hour before sunset, in place for the action. A random cat emerged from the woods and proceeded to jump on my lap and start purring - definitely the first time anything like this has happened to me on a birding trip! As the sun finally went down, the area came alive. Huge flocks of Snow Geese, which had evaded us the entire day, began pouring overhead. A dozen or so Woodcocks started displaying from the surrounding fields - a sight I always enjoy. The mystery owl began calling right on schedule - a weird, nasally call like nothing I've ever heard. Originally, it was thought to be a Long-eared Owl, but now the evidence points more in favor toward a messed-up Great Horned Owl. I guess we'll probably never really know what this bird was - but it was still interesting to hear.
|Snow Geese flying in to roost on Lake Phelps|