Date: 12/1/17 4:49 am From: John Fussell <jofuss...> Subject: Wilson's Plover at west Shackleford Banks, NC
On Thursday, Donna Goodwin and I spent much of the day covering the west end of Shackleford Banks. We walked from the ferry drop-off at the inlet down the sound shoreline to the vicinity of the old cemetery, then over to the ocean beach, and then back to the inlet.
Among the shorebirds that were on the sound-side spit near the inlet in the afternoon when the tide was rising was a Wilson's Plover. Most winters there is one or two of these in the Beaufort Inlet area, but they are scarce enough that it is always fun to find one at this season.
We saw few raptors, but we did have a Bald Eagle (which took a Laughing Gull with an injured wing), a Peregrine, and a Merlin.
Marsh birds in the Mullet Pond cattail marsh were vocal, certainly because of the warm, calm conditions. We heard a King Rail, Virginia Rails, Soras, and a Common Gallinule--not bad for an isolated little freshwater marsh.
With the warm, calm conditions, landbird activity was anemic and the ocean (except for the large number of Laughing Gulls) was very dull. Laughing Gulls are super-abundant now--I assume because of the large numbers of shrimp trawlers that are working the area.
At the west end of Shackleford, there is a jetty built in 1894 that points toward the inlet, but because of past accretion has been back up in the dunes for at least many decades (maybe close to a century?). Because of a recent shifting of the inlet eastward, with dramatic erosion on the Shackleford Banks side, the very tip of the jetty is now in the inlet again.