My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Birdest Day

January 12, 2016

We have been having lots more birds at the North Pond at  Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.  The Visitor Center overlooks this pond and has three scopes set up in the front windows for the enjoyment of visitors.

I worked there last Sunday after a night of moderately heavy rain.  A huge puddle had formed in the grass just behind the parking lot and I drove in to find it being used by forty white ibis and at least thirty Canada geese, as well as about a hundred grackles. Red winged blackbirds were also hanging around as were a pair of Savannah sparrows. Several photographers, including me, got to enjoy them.

Juvenile and adult white ibis

The Canada geese are grazing while the white ibis probes for bugs and worms

Then Tuesday, I arrived to find the pond at least twice as full of birds as usual. there were at least forty great egrets, over fifty American white pelicans, more than one hundred fifty tundra swans, and maybe fifty double crested cormorants. I saw many great blue herons, including five together. The avocets were back about 120 strong and, as the day passed, more and more gulls came in out of the wind and sat on the distant sandbar. The American white pelicans were very active, flying about and landing with a watery skid, looking like barefoot water skiers for a few seconds. Some were also actively feeding in a large group looking like dancers as they bobbed for fish, while the wind blew their "skirts" over their heads. Snow geese flew through and then one batch settled down where we could barely see their heads beyond the grass. 

Lots of great egrets and a few gadwalls

Mostly pelicans

One eagle came and sat on the osprey tower, then left and then both members of the regularly seen pair came back to delight visitors. The snow geese sat where they could barely be seen and the gadwall and bufflehead hung way back on the back side of the pond to get out of the winds and waves. I was so blown away, that I took habitat pictures of the birds. Even then, they live where I can barely catch them with the camera.

After the eagle left his perch, he flew over a group of feeding ducks and put them up

I had my camera in my hand when snow geese flew by the front windows

Can you find at least four species of birds? The front blob is a feeding tundra swan

Eagles on the osprey tower in front of the Visitor Center

We can watch red-breasted mergansers but not get their pictures.  This was in Manteo bay

I caught this young goose goose stepping near the road on the way to Pea Island Visitor Center

Several weeks ago, I took a movie of the white pelicans feeding.   Tuesday, we got to watch this behavior again and it delighted our visitors. You might like to the feeding ballet.  The wind was blowing at thirty plus mph so it's jerky.  Please MUTE your computer to avoid listening to the wind.

Hopefully this current cold spell will finally bring more birds down here and working will get even more exciting.

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