The 13th May started again at the Belleplain State Forest, to see if we could catch up with some of the birds we missed a few days ago, and also to explore the forest for ourselves. An excellent start was had with this splendid White-breasted Nuthatch.
Another Magnolia Warbler was seen, plus Eastern Wood-Pewees, Scarlet Tanager, Pine Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. Spending more time by the damp woodland at the Sunset Road bridge, a skulking Hooded Warbler was heard again but not seen. Then after a time, a bird was seen to land on the road. Only a stonking male Prothonotary Warbler! After a hop about on the road, the bird spent a number of minutes in the overhanging branches of a tree, giving absolutely wonderful views.
Following that success, the remaining time at Belleplain revealed Summer Tanager, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-tailed Hawk, an Eastern Phoebe, American Goldfinch and 2 Wood Thrushes.
|Eastern Wood-Pewee, image courtesy of Kay|
Plenty of Cliff Swallows were around too, hawking insects from the lagoons. Someone had also claimed a Cave Swallow here, which is like a paler version of Cliff Swallow and really should be in Mexico. But alas, as hard as we tried to pick it out, all we could see were Cliff Swallows. Never mind, and not something I was expecting to get.
The next day, the 14th May, took us back to Higbee Beach for a morning walk. We had our first Hairy Woodpecker here, plus 3 Great Crested Flycatchers, female Summer Tanager, Black-throated Green Warbler and a cracking male American Redstart. Over the course of our time spent in woodland, we had noticed these web things in trees and bushes.
I had assumed they were spiders webs of some kind, and thought nothing of them. But after talking to an American birder, they are in fact caterpillar cases of the Gypsy Moth. Which would explain why this morning in particular, they were proving attractive to hungry birds. A natural bird table for Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, but particularly for a Baltimore Oriole and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
An afternoon walk around the Rea Farm produced an American Kestrel which was new for the trip, also a female Prothonotary Warbler, a sight never to be tired of. I also did my good deed of the day here. Whilst taking a walk through some damp woodland, along a disused railway line, we found a Terrapin flat on it's back and unable to move. The reptile must've thought it was one of those Ninja Turtles, so when climbing over the metal railway line it would've flipped itself over, before it could have chance to say "Cowabunga!".
Now, in nature you're not supposed to interfere. But you couldn't help feeling sorry for this little chap, it could've been stuck there for hours. So I flipped the little fella back up again, and we made sure it carried on it's way after successfully climbing over the other side of the old railway line.
|Great Crested Flycatcher at the Rea Farm, image courtesy of Kay|
|Brown-headed Cowbirds at the Rea Farm|
As darkness descended, something flew across out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was the size of an Owl to begin with. Thankfully the bird flew back towards us and we could tell it was a Nightjar of some kind. After a process of elimination, the clucking sound it made plus no white on the wings, meant that it was a Chuck-Will's Widow!
Much larger than our European Nightjar, and slightly larger than a Common Nighthawk. When it was almost pitch dark the bird landed on the ground in front of us, and you could make out it's huge head in proportion to it's body. Great stuff, a brilliant way to finish a day.