Saturday, October 16, 2010

White-cheeked Pintail

I did not go out yesterday to the Outer Banks here in NC as my last post suggested, but instead went out early this morning, leaving my house at 5:40 to make the 250 mile drive to Pea Island NWR. As the 2 photos above show (remember to click on them to enlarge), "I got my bird", but it took some time. I arrived about 10:15 AM with the sun out but the wind howling at 20 mph. The white-cheeked pintail that has been at Pea Island for apparently at least 2 weeks was not in the spot it had been seen over the past 3 days.

About 11 AM Bob Ake and his wife, Joyce, joined me to look for the pintail. By 1 PM we were getting pretty tired of being pummeled by the wind, and our stomachs were growling, so we drove the 15+ miles back into Nags Head to get some lunch. We had just ordered when we got a call from a friend of Bob's that the pintail had finally showed up. Bob and I left his wife to enjoy her meal, and to bring us ours afterwards.

We got back to Pea Island to find a bunch of students from E. Tennessee St. checking out the bird. Their professor turned out to be a long time colleague of Bob's. After getting my photos, we decided to drive back towards Bob's wife, meeting 1/2 way to eat our now tepid crabcake sandwich for me, and flounder and shrimp for Bob.

About 3 PM Bob and Joyce headed back to get photos of the pintail, and I pointed my car towards Chapel Hill arriving home at 7. For the 1st 2 days of week #42 I saw 44 birds. Hopefully the pintail will eventually raise the YTD up one more bird, but I need to add here that this is a provisional sighting because most white-cheeked pintails in the end are deemed to be escaped birds rather than wild ones by the state review committees. That said, there is nothing so far to indicate this is not a wild bird--it has been seen feeding mostly by itself, and generally is alone rather than hanging out with other ducks. It is also would be a life bird for me.

I have added a link to Bob Ake's big year blogsite. You can find the link in the right hand column of my site, just above the start of the list of year birds. There is also an updated travel map today. I am now waiting to see what rare bird might show up. I also am trying to decide if I am going to fly back out to San Francisco next weekend to take one more pelagic trip. Stay tuned!

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