Saturday, June 26, 2010
From our sunset and wine deck I noticed a nest platform far away in the salt marsh that begged investigation. From far away I couldn't tell if the nesting bird was an osprey or a bald eagle. Even with my zoom lens the distance was too great so some sleuthing was mandatory. Finding a road through the salt marsh took investigation and a little skullduggery. As it turns out, the road through the salt marsh is unmarked and private, belonging to a neighborhood and its HOA. There's a keypad iron gate through one must drive, which curiously sits next to a trailer park and even appears to go into the trailer pack. There's a method to this madness for it took me the longest time to find said road. Finally, I deduced that was the ONLY road that could be THE road so I watched and waited for opportunity to present itself.
And it did. One morning the gate stood open. I took this as an invitation to explore. The road looped through the salt marsh, past huge homes I would never want. Fields of wildflowers were scattered amid the salt marsh. Dragonflies were my escort and birds darted around me. The nest was, obviously, that of an osprey and two chicks - juveniles, by the look of them. Mom and chicks exhibited alarm calls as I came close to the nest, and mom in particular seemed ready to dive for my head at any moment. Not wanting to disturb them further I stopped moving, took lots of shots and then took my leave.
The evening deck overlooked a stand of gnarled, mostly dead live oaks, the snags of which offered perfect birding opportunities. I confess to not having captured every grackle that stopped by as they were ubiquitous in nature. There were lots of mourning doves as well, but this one caught my eye. A gold patch was clearly visible on the side of its neck. This was the only gold-patched mourning dove that I saw.
I've no clue if this is another species of dove or just an anomaly, or if there's always a gold patch like this on mourning doves and the light was hitting it just right. I'll leave that to you serious birders. (I, myself, am a birding novice and just enjoy whatever flies by!)
From my lazy vantage point, glass of wine in one hand and camera on the table in front of me I was in heaven just watching the world go by. Occasionally, as the situation demanded, I would pick up the camera and shoot something of interest before setting the Canon back on the table and having another sip. Life Was Good At The Beach. This bird had a beautiful song. At first sight and before its song began, and from a distance I thought this was a red winged blackbird. Then it began singing and I snapped a couple of shots before it flew away. I don't know what this is and apologize for the sloppy shots.
Touring Fort Fisher, south of Wilmington, we found Ibis in a tree. I'd forgotten all about Ibis and had to look them up upon returning home. It's been a long time since I'd been to the ocean, or where Ibis can be found. They are so pretty. The shot has been photoshopped so that you can see them - they were practically in silhouette due to the angle of the sun. Kayla took this shot.
This fella also wasn't thrilled when I got out of the car and slowly crept closer. Eventually, he took his leave, flying into the salt marsh.
After looping through a second time I came to a quick halt upon seeing this fella in a roadside tree. Branches are in the way, naturally, but this little green heron was my favorite of the day! This was the first shot which turned out to be the best shot. Taken from my car window, if I'd stopped and gotten out this guy would'a been history! LOVE the colors of this heron. I've seen them often but never gotten this close.
Kure Beach Pier, two brown pelicans stood about waiting for treats from the fishermen. Cannonball jellyfish were bobbing in the waves beneath them. They were docile and sweet and complete beggars! I love their Sting-Sticky-Up hair, and their colors were glorious.
Interestingly, we all noticed this trip the lack of shore birds along the ocean's edge. The occasional sandpiper would make an appearance, even a gull or two, but frankly...the majority of birds seen were grackles and red winged blackbirds. It wasn't until the end of our week that we began seeing pelicans flying along the shoreline, but sightings were few and their numbers were few as well.
Has this been noticed anywhere else, or is that common to North Topsail Beach? Few shorebirds? We used to vacation just south of Wilmington in the Brunswick Islands and shells were abundant as were all manner of shorebirds but here, north of Wilmington, wildlife and shells were scarce. The area was almost sterile - that's the word I came up with while pondering it one day. I'm not certain why or, again, if this is just common for this beach. It was disappointing to me as a nature geek. Still, I adored vacationing here and highly recommend it! We may have just hit it wrong migrationally speaking, or something.
North Carolina is an amazing state from the gorgeous Smokey Mountains to it's amazing beaches. As much as I love traveling abroad our own country offers such diversity for travelers.