Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Visit to Mattamuskeet, Bodie Island NWR, Pea Island NWR and Pocosin - Lots and Lots of Birds!!

This is the Bodie Island Lighthouse at dawn on the second day of our trip up to northern North Carolina to see our winter visitors!

This is an American Kestrel which is a truly beautiful bird in the falcon family.  He was quite a distance away and the light is always bad at the one end of Mattamuskeet when the sun is brightly shining.  Hopeffully you can see his pretty plumage here.

We also saw a juvenile Bald Eagle, a Cooper's Hawk, a Northern Harrier and a Turkey Vulture at Mattamuskeet.  You can always tell when an eagle is around as all the birds fly up off the marsh!  We didn't see the eagles at the nest like we did in December though.  It was a day for raptors although not a good day for pictures -- we were hoping for more overcast conditions!  

We did see a lot of Northern Pintails when we went on the backside trail at Mattamuskeet.  There were also a couple of Black Ducks in with them (the duck in the foreground).  

 This is the beautiful male Northern Pintail.

 Here is a pair of the Northern Pintails.

I loved this shot from behind that shows this tail and the wing patterns from behind.  There were a LOT of Pintails as you can see and the light was good on the back side of the trail!

We headed over to the Outer Banks that afternoon and went to Bodie Island Lighthouse.  Last year there were 1000's of Redheads -- this year none!!  This was a group of Lesser Yellowlegs that flew by.  

A closeup of one of the Yellowlegs.

I did manage to get a picture of Green-winged Teals despite the rather poor light.  There is a broad green stripe on the head of the male.

At the crack of dawn we headed back to Bodie Island and found quite a few Avocets feeding in the low water.

A close-up of one of the Avocets.

This was a picture of two of the Lesser Yellowlegs who were also feeding in the shallow water.  Loved seeing their reflections in the still water.  I should note that there is a boardwalk that takes you to the observation tower and it was covered with frozen dew.  My dear daughter held onto me the whole way so that I didn't take a tumble on this very slippery walk.  Luckily there was no wind (like the day before when we froze to death) so even though chilly, it was tolerable.

A close-up of one of the Yellowlegs.

Next we headed down to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and got there just as a nature walk was beginning.  There were ducks of almost every variety there that day.  I found out later that the local  camera club (Cape Fear where I live) was up there for pictures -  no wonder we saw so many expensive lens!!  This picture has a male Redhead in the foreground as well as an American Coot (always plenty of those).  In the background is a female Canvasback.

I must say that in my many visits to this area, I had only seen one female Canvasback and no males before this trip (did see one male down here locally) but this time, there were lots of them at Pea Island.  This male posed for me as I was heading back to the car.

More Canvasbacks.  There were a lot more females than males.  

This is a Wigeonl, another pretty duck.

This is a Ruddy Duck.  We saw some of these at Mattamuskeet as well.  There were also Northern Shovelers, Lesser Scaups and a Pied-billed Grebe in the mix.  Black Ducks were off in the distance and of course a lot of Tundra Swans -- probably more than I had seen there before.  We didn't spot any White Pelicans though.  A couple of days later, a Snowy Owl was also spotted at Oregon Inlet (nearby this refuge).  There is incredible construction going on at the inlet so really impossible to stop although I had wanted to as there is also a Great Horned Owl nest there I wanted to see.  They are building a HUGE new bridge that is about four times as high as the current one.  

We stopped at Pocosin on the way home and were really surprised to see a field filled with 1000's of Tundra Swans.  We had seen other fields filled with white birds on our way to the Outer Banks which I had assumed were Snow Geese.  Now I am wondering....  I didn't realize that Tundra Swans grouped like the Snow Geese.  The water was high at Pongo Lake so we didn't see a lot of the shore birds you sometimes see -- just lots and lots of Tundra Swans.

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