Although the sun was shining brightly, the winds were probably at least 20 mph along the beach. I decided to see what I could see down at Ft. Fisher anyway both at the end and where the walking path is. You can see all the white caps in the background here. Without binoculars, it is really hard to pick out any birds in that kind of surf but luckily the Northern Gannets come closer to shore during this brisk weather so I was finally able to get some nice shots of them -- and there were a flock of them diving and flying. They are a large bird with a wing span of about 27 inches and they look very regal.
Here you can clearly see his black tipped wings and his beige head. I have seen a lot of these but none good enough to get anything but a picture for identification.
Another Gannet flying in the other direction.
This was a juvenile Gannet with his speckled wings. I got a lot of good shots of him both from above and below!
I also headed down to the end of the island to see if the Hooded Mergansers, Horned Grebes or Oystercatchers were there. The first bird I saw was this Red Breasted Merganser who moved away as soon as he spotted me. He was having a bad hair day with all the wind! I have seen these down here before but not this year.
There were a lot of Oystercatchers as well and I can't seem to get enough of this beautiful bird with his bright red-orange beak. Warren said they were all over the stone wall at high tide the other day when he was out kayaking.
Here you see a couple of Oystercatchers, an Ibis and a Snowy Egret.
Last but certainly not least is a Forster's Tern. I have seen a lot of these but they are always flying rapidly so I have had difficulty getting a picture to identify them for sure but this one did it!
In the morning of the super cold day, I again saw a phenomenon I have seen on several cool days -- rainbows in the clouds that spread out. When the sun is low in the sky, it will produce "Sundogs" where the rainbows culminate in a couple of bright lights on the side of the sun. This is caused by the ice crystals on the cold days. I think I never saw them in Rochester as it is just so overcast all the time in winter where I am near Lake Ontario. For fun, I just had Picasa take one of these pictures and applyed "I'm Feeling Lucky" to it which resulted in the picture below.
Now if I could just dye that.....you can see why this appealed to me!!!