Saturday, October 26, 2013

In Search of the Avocet -- Another Excuse to Head down to Ft. Fisher!

The weather down here has been wonderful -- bright sunny days, very slight breeze and temps in high 60s or low 70s.  I spotted these two immature Ibis in a small pond down by the basin at Ft. Fisher.  One is a lot further along in his change to white feathers.

My dear husband is feeling much better and is out on his kayak enjoying the day.  If it is this nice tomorrow, he will be heading out again!

This is a closeup of the more immature of the ibis.

This one is a lot further along!

I believe this is a common Song Sparrow -- a lot of those down by the Ferry.

This is probably a Palm Warbler although there are a ton of Yellow Rumped Warblers around.
I think this is a Savannah Sparrow as other pictures I took show the stripe over his eye as distinctly yellow.  He was down on the beach and might just be another Song Sparrow -- too close to call!

What really surprised me is that there were different butterflies down in Ft. Fisher today than just a couple of days ago.  I know Monarchs migrate and today I saw multiple Monarchs for the first time down here.  There were nowhere near as many today as there were the other day, and they were a different mix as well.  Very cool!!

I have taken a lot of pictures of Cloudless Sulphurs but this is a Clouded Sulfur!!  I hadn't seen this one before.

And this one was also new to me -- a Sleepy Orange.

The American Lady finally decided to show here colors on top as well.  There were a number of these both at the Ferry and down parking lot at Ft. Fisher.

This is the underneath view of the above butterfly -- how different it looks!!
I noticed this very orange looking sulphur and I believe it is an Orange Sulphur.  I saw more of these down at Ft. Fisher but this was on my neighbor's beautiful flowers.

But alas, there was no Avocet down there today.  There are so many people around on the weekend, he may just be in hiding somewhere -- let's hope he hasn't left yet as it looks like a beautiful bird that I haven't seen.  

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is still hanging out by the ferry drawing a new group of birders today.

Last, but certainly not least, was this female Bluebird hanging out with the Phoebes and Yellow Rumped Warblers.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Better Pictures of the Flycatcher and Phoebe!

Well, our celebrity bird - the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - is still down by the Ferry and I met lots of new people today trying to get a picture.  Eventually he tires of the company and hides for a bit but if you back off and wait, he comes back.  Sitting up in the tree is his favorite hiding place.  It is extremely rare to see him in this part of the country!

Now, I am told there has been an Avocet down there for the past week as well so I have got to find him now.....and the Great Horned Owls as I know where they hang out now too...

This is his favorite place to hang out -- on this fence.  One of the other birders got much closer than I did but I definitely did better today than yesterday.  I am probably 35 feet away from him.

I even got a better picture of the Eastern Phoebe where you can actually see some whiskers by his or her beak.  There are a lot of them that like the fence.

As I was heading out to see the birds, I spotted this Long-tailed Skipper on our hibiscus.  Haven't seen one of these on the Island before -- only down by the battleship.  He has a blue body like the Checkered Skipper.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Now I Know Where the Birds are at Ft. Fisher!!

My birding friend Bruce said he was going to be down by the Ft. Fisher Ferry to try to spot the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher again so I decided that grocery shopping could wait and met him down there.  As I live so close by, I wondered down to the boat launch and saw all these kayaks waiting to go out on one of those guided tours to Zeke Island.  You can see what a beautiful day it was.  That is a Great Egret in the background (the white dot!).

There were five Ruddy Turnstones right by the ramp.

This lovely Snowy Egret was fishing in a little pond by the parking lot.  I see lots and lots of Great Egrets but not so many of the Snowy Egrets.

By the visitor parking lot (which I didn't even know existed), there is a large field with a fence keeping you out of a federally patrolled area.  There were lots and lots of Eastern Phoebe's perching on the fence.  I couldn't get too close without them flying off.  

I was still quite a distance but FINALLY saw the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which has been hanging around for a few days now.  You don't normally find these in this area so he was a bit lost.  His tail feathers are not as full as they will be.  There were of course other birders there.  Bruce came down and joined me and pointed out a number of other birds in the trees.  During the migration, this is a good place to come.  It is a little late this year to see all the warblers, but I will know next year!

He is actually eating a fly in this picture!

As I got closer to him, he flew to the top of this tree where Bruce says he hides.  Amazingly while we were there, a hawk was casing him out but he saw the hawk before we did and flew away.  He has been here for almost a week now.

Not sure what kind of sparrow this is.  The consensus is that this is a Song Sparrow, a bird I have seen a bit down here.

Again, I think this is a Palm Warbler. There were a ton of the Yellow Rumped Warblers around as well.

Bruce then showed me another pathway down by the aquarium where there is a small pond and several walkways.  We saw Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers, Flickers, Meadowlarks, Titmouse and a Merlin (we think).  There were no opportunities for good pictures though.  I truly can't believe I live right next door to this veritable bird sanctuary.

At least I was able to show him where I took all the butterfly pictures as he was going to try for some as well!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fabulous Day at Ft. Fisher -- Butterflies and More Butterflies!!

It was a beautiful day for a walk down along the water at Ft. Fisher.  The water was calm and a Caribbean blue.

This is one of the pathways leading down to the water.  It is supposedly not safe for swimming here but people fish and the surfers love it for the long waves.

I have probably taken pictures of this view many times before but  it is just so pretty!

As soon as I got down there, I noticed that there were 100's of butterflies all over.  I have never seen so many butterflies congregated in one place outside of those museum exhibits!!  I managed to identify 8 different species but I am sure there were others that I missed -- they do tend to flit a bit!!  The most common one today was the Common Buckeye pictured here.  I think all the butterflies know that cold weather is coming tomorrow -- it was glorious out today!

This is a male Common Checkered Skipper.  You can see it is fairly small as it is resting on a painted daisy.  I hadn't seen this one before.

This is a side view of an American Lady.  I only managed one picture with open wings -- they aren't as pretty on top as they are on the bottom!

I now believe this is a Southern Skipperling as the European Skipper is really not found locally.
I believe this is an Ocola Skipper  which I have seen at Greenfield Park Lake.  Hard to tell but I didn't see any white spots on the side.

This is a Grey Hairstreak which I first saw just the other day at Carolina Beach State Park.

This is the Gulf Fritillary which was the second most common butterfly I saw today.  I have pictured those many times and they do like to pose!

This is the Cloudless Sulphur, also very common around here and shows how butterflies got their name!!

This is a Buckeye and a Grey Hairstreak sharing a flower.  I saw multiple butterflies inhabiting the same flowers, but usually the same species.  The Buckeye looks very different from below as many butterflies do.
I believe this is a Grapeleaf Skeletonizer moth.  Didn't want to leave the moths out altogether!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Catching Up!

One of our pretty fall sunsets here at the beach!

I have been down for the count the past couple of weeks with a nasty chest cold that has left me hacking away.  It isn't gone but I am definitely feeling better and finally got out for a walk yesterday.

I don't know whether this is the same Tricolor Heron I have seen before at Carolina Beach Lake or not.  He is really quite striking I think.

Just another view of the above heron.  There was a kingfisher there that day as well but I didn't get my camera in place before the dog walkers scared him away!

There are still pitchers on the pitcher plant down at Carolina Beach State Park but not the beautiful flowers there were in the spring.

This beautiful Orb Weaver spider was building his web in the woods.

I was surprised to find a new butterfly (for me) down at the park - a Grey Hairstreak -- a common butterfly but I hadn't seen one down here before.  

Hopefully I will be getting out more frequently again.  
I have actually started to sew a little finally!!  I have just feel too lousy to do much of anything for the past ten days.  I am beginning a piece I have planned for along time.  Basically an abstract depiction of the beach, water and sky.  I was gifted a packet of fat quarters by a guest last year and the colors just reminded me of the beach.

 This is a different view of the above where you can see more of the orange on the back end of the wing and also the light orange on the front part of the wing.

In another month my ducks should start returning to the local waterways.  I always look forward to that!!  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Another Visit to Greenfield Lake Park

This female Anhinga was really far far away but thought she was rather stunning and posed for quite some time!  I had seen two others earlier but they were also far away!

My daughter and  my husband wanted to try to walk around Greenfield Lake so I let them off and I explored around the amphitheatre area the whole time they were gone.  The bush where so many butterflies had congregated was over the hill so I didn't see all the beautiful butterflies I saw last week.  Thanks to a local butterfly guy, I did get the Skipper from the other day identified -- it is an Ocola Skipper which is fairly common in the south in the fall.  

I did see several warblers and the Redstarts were the most prominent but also saw a Palm Warbler as well as my old favorite the Yellow Rumped Warbler.  There may have been others but a wedding was being set up at the gazebo with a guitar player practicing with a microphone -- not conducive to seeing or hearing lots of birds!
I think this Great Egret is always in the same place at the lake!  He also posed nicely for me on this beautiful day yesterday.

Not uncommon, but the first time I have seen down here -- a Red Bellied Woodpecker  hammering away on one of the trees oblivious to the wedding prep!

Not sure if I have identified this correctly, but think it is an Oak Toad -- it was very small and dark.  They are identified by the stripe down the back which seemed very light but the other toads were all much larger.

I didn't see this at the park, but at my neighbor's on one of their bushes.  I included it as it is the first time I have seen a hummingbird down here on the island although my neighbor had kept telling me she was seeing them all the time!!  I had thought I was photographing one of the elusive dragonflies when I took this picture!