On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 3:17 PM Brian Patteson <carolinabirds...>
> Hey Steve,
> Wouldn’t dissing Toyota be considered blasphemy among birders? I thought
> the Prius was the official vehicle of birding.
> Brian Patteson
> On Dec 28, 2020, at 3:00 PM, Shultz, Steven (via carolinabirds Mailing
> List) <carolinabirds...> wrote:
> Thank you for the lovely responses!
> 11 people made very nice comments.
> 13 suggested they would rather read an impassioned plea from a Nigerian
> prince to help move $13,000,000 to the United States (and two said they
> were willing to do so).
> 4 suggested performing a contortion I do not believe is physically
> 23 noted that buying a Honda would be a far better choice than a Toyota.
> 9 chastised me for burning fossil fuel to see birds, suggesting EV was the
> way to go. I explained that there were zero charging stations in Hyde
> County. Or Tyrrell. Or Washington.
> 1 did not understand why six Mountain Dew’s would jack up a 9 year-old.
> 2 pointed out grammatical mistakes.
> …and one person stated they were from the IRS, that I was behind in my
> taxes, and that I needed to send a Wal-Mart gift card immediately in order
> to avoid incarceration.
> ***To all of you, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa,
> Festivus, or Winter Solstice, and that 2021 is exceptional in every way.
> Let’s hope for lots of great birds, some fun chases, and hopefully the
> chance to get together with one another in the field or at a
> festival/meeting (maybe with the opportunity to actually see lips moving)***
> In order to keep this post on the barest edge of legitimacy, I will relay
> that several folks saw that blasted Black-throated Gray Warbler this
> morning. Apparently, so long as you are not with me, you just have to show
> us and look 😊 Coordinates are here: 35.92757199929954,
> -75.72263210517877 (but please do not stand in the road)
> I’m off to Wal-Mart…
> Steve Shultz
> Apex NC
> *From:* Carol Gearhart <gearhace...>
> *Sent:* Monday, December 28, 2020 1:09 PM
> *To:* Shultz, Steven <Steven.Shultz...> <Steven.Shultz...>>
> *Subject:* Re: Eastern NC 12/26-12/27
> *This email is from an external source - **exercise caution regarding
> links and attachments.*
> We loved this! Very entertaining! Thanks for sharing.
> On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 11:16 AM "Shultz, Steven" <carolinabirds...>
> With the days of 2020 (mercifully) ticking away, there was one final
> chance to tick off enough “state year birds” to equal or, dare I dream,
> surpass, my personal “record”. And I was at risk of missing some really
> easy to get species for the year (see first sentence with the veiled
> reference to what a stinker the beginning of the “Roaring Twenties” has
> been). So we set off from the Peak of Good Living for the environs around
> Pungo Lake (Pocosin NWR) in Hyde County NC on Saturday.
> Pungo can be a magical place. The lake serves as roosting area for tens
> of thousands of Tundra Swans and Snow Geese. Seeing that many white birds
> in the air or on the ground at the same time is a sight every North
> Carolinian should get to experience, and one of the major wildlife
> spectacles in the Mid-Atlantic.
> OK Steve, so why doesn’t everyone line up like that 3-hour traffic jam at
> Festival of Lights? Well, for one, the roads at Pungo are somewhere
> between maddening and tear-your-hair-out. And the birds tend to be in one
> place. If that one place is a farmer’s field on the other side of the lake
> you can’t get to. Well, you are counting robins. But when things
> coalesce, it’s pretty amazing. So we figured we would give it a try.
> We arrived around 3 p.m. with trusty Delorme in hand, marked up from
> previous trips since a) there are few signs marking the names of roads on
> the refuge, and b) roads tend to be randomly opened or closed from season
> to season, and c) there’s no cell reception to be able to use Google Maps
> (which can’t handle the craziness of these roads anyway). And don’t trust
> the maps at the info kiosk. They suggest roads are open that have never,
> in my experience, been open. At least in winter.
> The roads were predictably awful after the Christmas Eve deluge. But
> since roads at Pungo follow a scale from Impassable to Horrible to
> Predictably Awful, that means they were not half bad. Meaning that half of
> the road was generally passable. This is where 4WD earns it’s keep. Sadly
> my economic plan for retirement is predicated on buying reliable cars and
> driving them until the wheels pop off, and 4WD adds a lot of potentially
> expensive to repair hardware, so I have a Camry (and a Mustang, but no way
> that’s going out there). No 4WD. Guys in jacked up trucks just shook
> their heads when they splashed by as I picked the old ‘Yota around puddles
> that might swallow hippos. But we made it to the spot where Sandhill
> Cranes roosted last year and Snows and swans often fly over. No cranes.
> No Snow Geese. The swans were fun to watch. Until they left.
> Fortunately, the swans all seemed to be flying toward Pat’s Road fields.
> These are the fields north of the maintenance building that can be viewed
> from the eponymous, gasp, hard-topped Pat’s Road. Thousands of swans (we
> guessed 8,000) feed, honked, and bit as each other as folks parked
> alongside the road oohed and aahed like at a fireworks display. About 4:30
> the sky darkened. Clouds. But clouds of Snow Geese. They just appeared
> overhead and settled into the same field alongside the swans. Probably
> about 10,000 of the little roto-tillers. But of course Snow Geese are as
> jumpy as a 9-year old with a 6-pack of Mountain Dew, so it took quite some
> time to get everyone settled in. This allowed us to scan the periphery of
> the flock and pick out several Ross’s Geese. So 2 species added to the
> list. Need 2 more to tie, three to win.
> The next morning we started at Phelps Lake. This is usually good for our
> target Canvasback (see how bad 2020 was?? No cans in NC through 12/26??)
> and can be good for Common Merganser, expect they usually stay in the
> center of the lake, conveniently out of scope view. Without a breath of
> wind, the water was as glass, creating a weird optical illusion of birds
> floating above instead of on the water. But we found the mergs, about 80
> of them, mostly hens but some drakes, conveniently feeding in flooded
> cypress stumps in good light. That never happens. No cans though. So
> still one species shy.
> We had not planned on visiting the OBX, but it’s only a bit over an hour
> from Phelps, and that Black-throated Gray was being seen. Now I need to
> explain that I generally don’t chase rare birds since I have no luck.
> Zero. I can sit at a poker table and have a straight flush king high, and
> the young lady beside me has a royal flush. It just happens that way. But
> sometimes you gotta try. Bruce Young noted the bird was way the heck down
> from where it had been seen, so we start there. There are about 60 trees
> the bird could be in, and it moves. We hit all of them, collected some
> folks worked the area down by the water and explained the bird was being
> seen farther inland. THEY saw the bird. We did not. I hate birds.
> So we move along to Pea Island. It was surreal. No wind. No
> mosquitoes. Warm. I was shedding outerwear. How often are you at the
> Banks and not a) frozen, b) picking sand out of your teeth weeks later, or
> c) applying to the blood bank for a withdrawal since you are a few pints
> low after feeding the skeeters?
> Duck numbers on the refuge are way down from a few weeks ago, but still
> reasonably diverse. And of course it was actually pleasant to be out
> there! We spotted Black-crowned Night Heron, which tied the record, and
> Canvasback, which was +1.
> The ocean was glass yesterday until about 2 p.m. This allowed watching
> the Humpback Whales feeding a couple miles out, as well as enjoying the
> mega-flock of gannets giving the what’s what to a hapless school of
> menhaden. My son, one of nine people who actually fish in the winter at
> Jennette’s Pier, pulled in Spiny Dogfish one after another (all went back
> to the sea, however they are quite tasty… if you’ve ever had fish and chips
> in the UK, you’ve quite likely dined on dogfish my friend. Ahem, I mean
> sure, it’s haddock! Really!)
> We figured we would miss the Rough-legged Hawk once again at Alligator
> River (see note above about luck) and most certainly did not see it.
> Again. But a Merlin came in and perched in the tree that hawk typically
> uses, so we ended up with +2 for the year.
> And no, I shall not reveal the final number. It’s embarrassing. But it’s
> mine, and I like it.
> I hope that your 2021 is a mite bit better (OK, a hellava lot better) than
> the train wreck that was 2020. A lot of folks used their love of birds and
> the outdoors as a way to combat the turned-upside-down-world, and I have to
> suggest that this is a lot healthier than a bottle of bourbon (although I’d
> point you toward the Four Roses Single Barrel there). I’ve enjoyed reading
> about your exploits in the birding world this year, whether on Facebook,
> GroupMe, or Carolinabirds. I hope that each and every one of you has a
> tremendous 2021. Thank for keeping the #birdnerd community vibrant and
> cohesive the past year, and I hope to maybe see some of you in the field
> during ’21!
> (If you are still reading… WOW. I’m impressed. That was long, rambled a
> lot, and did not even have the names of the birds in all caps for your
> scanning pleasure. Give yourself a pat on the back! Nice attention span!)
> Steve Shultz
> Apex NC
> Carol E. Gearhart
> 5622 Balsom Rd.
> Pfafftown NC 27040