Making the Best of It

(It is July 29, and I just now realized this never got posted back in June – welcome to the COVID Zone) We are making the best of it during these tumultuous times. I don’t want to use WPWB as a place to discuss topics outside of wild places or wild birds but these are extraordinary times we live in.   We had hoped to be in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by mid-May but it is now mid-June and we are still not ready to go.  We are prepping our house for rental and doing most of the work ourselves. For a while, we were getting out in the woods, masks at the ready as walked down the trail, but now with the heat setting in and the pressure building to get the heck out of here, we seem to be stuck at home most days. But we have had some wild experiences    Concerning the historical events of 2020,  the human race can be such a dysfunctional species.  We should have been better prepared for the pandemic,  AND had better people in charge; we should have addressed decades ago the deep-seated racism and white privilege that exists in our country. And soon we will be face-to-face with the consequences of ignoring human-caused climate change and economic inequality.   Keep your personal peace and mindfulness close,  and be kind. We will weather the storm(s). 

Prairie Warbler, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment

Prairie Warbler, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment

Super cooperative and entertaining Prairie Warblers at the Flat River. Four birds at eye-level fighting/mating and foraging paid little attention to me as I snapped many pictures of these beautiful warblers. 

Great first binoculars for young and old alike

One of many Osprey at Falls Lake, Johnny Roger Road access

Orchard Orbweaver

Not a bad place to be stuck

For a birder, anywhere is a good place to be during the months of April and May. Billions of birds are on the move northward, and the action in North Carolina did not disappoint. What was disappointing, we didn’t get out every day. And once we got into late March things started to shut down, even parks, so we had to get creative where we went birding and dog-walking. We have a young, energetic 1 1/2 yr old “Box-ador” who needs exercise like an Olympic athlete. We hiked some of the game lands and the MST (Mountains to the Sea Trail) around Falls Lake early in the morning and found the trail almost empty most days. When we approached hikers or runners we would step WAY off to the side of the trail.  

Scarlet Tanager - Best yard bird of the spring

Summer Tanager (female) - home

Great-crested Flycatcher - home

Ovenbird - home

Spring Birding while Dog-walking

Our Izzy, a very active dog, needs daily exercise. Each day either Sheree or I take her for a walk.  I have my hands and arms full, dog, binoculars, sound recorder, and camera. Photographing birds is challenging enough. Hook a dog leash onto the operation and things can get crazy. That is my attempt at making excuses for these fuzzy pictures.  

Maybe it was the virus cloud hanging overhead but I did not chase any of the awesome spring migrants that came through the Triangle this spring. I enjoyed bird walks with Izzy and mostly stayed hunkered down at home the remainder of the time. The total number of species for the springtime of 2020 was 116, mainly tallied at Falls Lake and home. By far the best bird of the season was a Virginia Rail at Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment (heard only).

The spring bird count at Flat River was most fulfilling. I spent about 5 hours walking, listening, and watching 70 species of birds. Being stuck at home for weeks on end was not all bad. It gave me an opportunity to more closely observe the birdlife on our four acres. We had successful breeding from Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Summer Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Mourning Dove and I tallied 72 species in the yard and across the street. 

Some interesting birds of note in the yard – This year we have a regular Yellow-throated Vireo and Barred Owls, a Yellow-breasted Chat and Prairie Warbler across the street, and a Cardinal nest in a bush just outside the living room window. 

Prothonotary Warbler - Falls Lake

Just a few more weeks of Carolina birding before we head to the birds of northern Michigan and southern Canada, if and when they let us in. I regret that we missed the spring birds of the UP, it was a lot of fun there last spring.  I hope you enjoyed the latest blog from Wild Places (okay, not so wild), and Wild Birds. Perhaps we will report on our adventures as we travel north. Take care. And VOTE! (them out)

Tree Swallow - Falls Lake

Double-crested Cormorant

Black Vulture - Falls Lake

Hooded Warbler - home

Prairie Warbler - Flat River

I like flowers, they hold still

Flower identification and information from iNaturalist and Wiki.  

Sisyrinchium angustifolium, commonly known as narrow-leaf blue-eyed-grass,[2] is a herbaceous perennial growing from rhizomes, native to moist meadow and open woodland. It is the most common blue-eyed grass of the eastern United States, and is also cultivated as an ornamental.

Zephyranthes atamasca, commonly known as the atamasco-lily or more generally a rain-lily,[1] is native to the southeastern United States. It grows in swampy forests and coastal prairies, preferring acid boggy soils rich with leaf mold.

Scutellaria integrifolia, commonly called helmet flower[1] or helmet skullcap, is a flowering plant in the mint family. It is native to the eastern United States where it is found in openings in mesic, acidic soil. It likely requires disturbance in the form of fire to maintain its appropriate habitat.

Erigeron strigosus is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family known by the common names prairie fleabane,[1] common eastern fleabane,[2] and daisy fleabane.[3] Erigeron strigosus is native to eastern and central North America as far west as Manitoba, Idaho and Texas. It has also become naturalized in western North America as well as in Europe and China as a somewhat weedy naturalized species.[4][5][6]

Coreopsis (/ˌkɒriːˈɒpsɪs/[2]) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Common names include calliopsis and tickseed, a name shared with various other plants.

Vaccinium stamineum, commonly known as deerberry, tall deerberry, squaw huckleberry, highbush huckleberry, buckberry, and southern gooseberry, is a species of flowering plant in the heath family.[3] It is native to North America, including Ontario, the eastern and central United States, and parts of Mexico.[4][5] It is most common in the southeastern United States.[3]

Great Blue Heron - Falls Lake

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