One of the most interesting times for me in The Field is late summer when nesting time is done and the grain is close to harvest, and the birds are using their remaining days to fatten up for the winter or for long migratory flights to their winter homes. Sorghum is one of the favorites of many of the field birds, and during this time you can get some great pictures of them perched on top of the grain stems gorging on the small seed, or the insects hiding there. , Several species feed on this grain in eastern North Carolina. The past few days I have seen Bluebirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Grasshopper Sparrows, Grackles, Doves, Redwing Blackbirds, Meadowlarks,Savannah Sparrows, Blue Grossbeaks, with an early fall migrator, the Bobolink, joining them for the first time yesterday. Bobolinks breed in southern Canada and northern U.S., and winter in South America, covering around 12,000 miles roundtrip each year. They usually feed briefly in this area in Spring and fall(a few days in March/April, and September). They head from here south down through Florida and on to South America. I think they are one of our most striking birds. Both male and female look alike in the fall, but the male dresses in his black and white tuxedo in the spring mating season. See pictures below.
Earlier this week Glyn and I spent 3 days at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC. We were able to rent a private condo there and this arrangement made us feel quite safe in regard to the virus. Chetola Resort has a long history, being first built in the 1800s. Check out the orange links for complete descriptions of this super vacation spot. The main lodge and Timberlake Restaurant(named for the artist Bob Timberlake) overlooks a beautiful lake which is filled with lovely Mute Swans and many varieties of ducks, The grounds are covered with a great variety of beautiful flowers which stay bright and fresh in the cool air of the mountain environment. We had dinner 2 nights at the Bob Timberlake restaurant, both times overlooking the lake, The food is excellent! The 3rd night we dined at our favorite Blowing Rock restaurant, the Bistro Roca. If you visit Blowing Rock, be sure and check out this fine eating spot! I walked around the lake and wondered the Resort grounds looking for birds to photograph. What I found are in the gallery below.
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This tiny, short-tailed sparrow has been plentiful this breeding season in The Field. They seem to like the open fields with some clumped vegetation, as well as the thick rows of sorghum planted in some areas. I have enjoyed watching the fledglings flit about the tops of the sorghum grain stems. Many of these birds have nested here this season. This sparrow breeds from southern Canada to the southeast U.S. They do migrate to the southern US and furthur south to Central America. For a complete description of their habitat and behavior, see this link. The pictures below were taken over a period of the last three weeks.
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One of the most striking of our Tyrant Flycatchers is the Eastern Kingbird. With its gray-black back and white underbelly, it has a regal bearing. As an insect eater, it perches on an open branch and waits for its prey to come by, then pounces. It can hover in place and is a very graceful flyer. For a complete description of this bird, see this link. In The Field, I see these beautiful birds frequently in the spring and through the summer, and never tire of watching their graceful flight and regal look.
While they are insect eaters, I have found that they will come to my feeders for one item-- peanut butter balls. For the last several years, a pair have nested nearby and daily come by for their peanut butter fix. They bring their babies and teach them the joy of this delicacy! It is one of my favorite birds and I look forward to their return each spring. The pictures below were taken at The Field.
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Before I get into discussing the star of todays journal, I want to welcome back all visitors to the site, especially the many of you who returned this past week after the site has been down and under repair for so long. I really appreciate that my readers did not totally abandon me after such a long time. I needed to clean up many old archives and I tried to make some parts easier to navigate, especially the National Refuges and the State and Local Parks sections. I believe those areas will now be easier to navigate. During the "off" time, I have been actively birding in my home area. With tne pandemic, travel has not really been possible, but I hope to get to some distant sites this fall if things ease up.I have already posted some recent journal articles covering trips during the spring, and I hope you have had a chance to review those. BUT, A HEARTY WELCOME BACK TO ALL!!
Today, I want to highlight some pics of one of our most plentiful and widespread birds across the country, the Great Crested Flycatcher. They winter south to Mexico, Florida, and other southern locations, and are regular nesters in the US, almost nationwide and into southern Canada. They are cavity nesters and one of their unique nesting behaviors is placing at least one snakeskin in their nest! I suppose this helps ward off other predators! In Cherokee Indian lore these birds have the quality of being "great defenders" of their tribe, and of assuring success in sports. You can usually find them near tall trees that border open spaces. The pics below were taken at Goose Creek State Park and at The Field.
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One of the few things I have been able to do during the Pandemic for recreation and to get out of the house safely is to pursue my photo interests. Fort Macon State Park on the NC coast has always been one of my favorite spots, and so I have been there several times this spring. I have not been disappointed. There are always birds here, and the coastal views are refreshing.
A treat in the spring is the arrival of the Painted Buntings. This area is about the northern boundary of this special bird's nesting range as they come up from Florida and other southern areas. They are more plentiful in South Carolina coastal areas, but you can find them from this area and south in NC. They are such beautiful birds, I am always newly impressed when I see the first one each spring.
The pictures below were taken over several trips here since March. See gallery below.
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This RIVER PARK NORTH -Greenville, N.C. is where I first got really involved in birding. It is my "hometown" local park, and has afforded many pleasant and productive hours of quality bird watching! Over the years, the park has increased the number of visitors and human activities and this has reduced the wildlife population, so that photography opportunities have decreased as you might expect. It continues to be an excellent birding site however, with a diverse and seasonal abundance of residential and migratory species present. It continues to provide good birding opportunities. Below is a sampling of photos taken here over this spring(2020).
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During the Pandemic, The Field, as always, has been my place of solace and spiritual renewal. There is always something fresh and uplifting to experience there. Around the seasons the changes in flora and wildlife offer a continuous flow of events of wonder and beauty. During this spring season, I have enjoyed the seasonal colorful nesting birds that return each year to brighten this time of renewal. Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Common Yellow-throats, Yellow=breasted Chats, Blue Grosbeaks, and White-eyed Vireos are a few.
For a few pictures taken here over the past few weeks, see the gallery below
This article is being prepared during May while the Corona-virus is in full swing in North Carolina. This web site is under construction so you will not see it until probably sometime in early July along with several new posts. I am grateful that during this time when most folks are home-bound that I can still get out into nature and attempt to gather a few pictures. The birds don't seem to mind and it is a great escape. I highly recommend it! Cheap too! Well, that is after the $$ for camera and lens!
This old Voice of America site has only recently been taken over by the N.C. Wildlife Service and is a great birding location, especially for some of our most colorful birds including Prairie Warblers, Goldfinch, Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat, and many others. It is also a known breeding site for the Henslow,s Sparrow, which I have so far not been able to capture in a photo. The pictures below were done on an early day in May. The Bald Eagle pics were taken at a catfish farm nearby. See Gallery below.
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I spent two days in late Feb. at this favorite site near Pawleys Island SC. The weather was warm, in the 70s while there. It was a little early for migrating woods birds, but the herons were beginning to nest in the back swamp areas. There were the usual shore birds and Brown Pelicans were plentiful. I enjoyed getting some good shots of this boxy but graceful critter, especially open mouth shots of the biggest mouth on the water! There were Buffleheads, terns, anhingas, egrets, and a few regular woods birds. As always, it was an enjoyable time at this ever productive bird sanctuary. See pictures below.
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Jerry Lotterhos is a retired professor who resides in Greenville, N.C.