Date: 2/21/17 10:01 am From: Harry LeGrand (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...> Subject: Summary of a 2-day trip to the Outer Banks, NC, and adjacent mainland
Derb Carter and I covered a handful of refuges "down East" and then covered the Nags Head and Pea Island areas, on February 19-20. I have posted our best results previously, and I have filled out eBird reports for Jennette's Pier for both days, plus one for Coquina Beach on the 19th.
Ocean highlights (details are posted on eBird reports):
Feb. 19: Beasley Road pond area (note -- NC DOT has replaced the Beasley Road highway sign at Exit 548 with one for Edenton -- so, if you are looking for "Beasley Road" on the sign, you will fail to exit.) Amid the few thousand Canada Geese in the fields, mostly in bad light, we saw a smaller bird that we feel was a Lesser Canada Goose. But, we saw no Cacklings or other rare geese.
Alligator River NWR -- the USFWS has now pumped essentially all of the water out of the ponds and pools along River Road, Sawyer Lake Road, and Twiford Road; so we saw ZERO waterbirds at all. Don't bother stopping at this refuge for waterfowl until around November.
Pea Island -- we saw the female COMMON GOLDENEYE, and 10 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, at North Pond. thankfully, all three impoundments were still full of waterfowl, though probably not like in the dead of winter.
Coquina Beach -- we saw one MANX SHEARWATER and a few RAZORBILLS.
Jennette's Pier -- We saw 2 LITTLE GULLS (one adult and one immature), along with a few hundred RAZORBILLS. Also saw about 8 Humpback Whales.
Feb. 20: Jennette's Pier -- We were joined in the morning by Greg Massey, Harry Sell, and a few others for up to 3 hours. The light SW wind from the 19th (and calmish seas) were replaced by NNE winds at 12-14 mph to chop up the water a bit. We saw the female COMMON EIDER next to a float, as we walked out to the end of the pier. But, thousands of birds were still on the water -- mostly Red-throated Loons and Razorbills, but many Horned Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers. Derb picked out a THICK-BILLED MURRE from a group of Razorbills on the water, and Greg and I got a good look. Later in the morning, we added an immature BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE and a MANX SHEARWATER. Despite seeing maybe 800 Bonaparte's Gulls, we could not find a Little Gull. But, we did manage to see 8 species of gulls over the two days from the pier. We also failed to pick out a Red-necked Grebe, despite the large numbers of Horned Grebes and loons.
By 11:15, we headed to Mattamuskeet NWR, but checking several impoundments and part of the lake failed to turn up a Eurasian Wigeon, Trumpeter Swan, etc. The impoundment on the west side at Lake Landing did have a few Blue-winged Teals, and we saw another pair in a canal near the refuge entrance.
We then got to Pungo refuge by 2:30. Pungo Lake from the observation tower did indeed have thousands of Tundra Swans, and the dense Snow Goose flock looked like a white sandbar, though about 2 miles away. We and a few others there then drove the South Lake Road to the west, and we stopped along this road near the WSW corner of the lake, where there are several small impoundments. Swans blanketed these impoundments by the thousands! We searched hard for Trumpeters but saw none; a few other puddle ducks were around. We waited at this spot on the refuge, and sure enough, around 4:30 the swans started leaving the lake, heading SW low over our heads, to feed in fields (which according to Frank Enders are near Swindell Road). A few minutes later some of the Snow Geese started trickling over, higher up. Derb picked out 3 ROSS' GEESE from the flocks, and we had a number of "Blue Geese". By about 5:15 - 5:30, the big Snow Goose flock finally started leaving. We must have seen 10-15,000 each of swans and geese flying over, and not only that, there were a few thousand ducks flying N heading to the lake, presumably from the wet areas that Frank mentioned, near Swindell Road. *So -- in case you are curious -- despite the very warm weather -- the swans and geese have NOT mostly left, as of February 20*.