Last Saturday I was in uptown Charlotte by seven in the morning to look for the peregrine falcons that are nesting atop the One Wells Fargo Center. From East Martin Luther King Boulevard I looked straight up to the fortieth floor and saw an adult falcon on the railing surrounding the landscaped terrace. It was the one-hundred seventieth species I have seen in Mecklenburg County this year.
In January I set a goal to see two hundred species of birds in the county by the end of December. I then found out the county record for species seen in one year is two hundred four, so of course I had to adjust my goal upward to two hundred five. You might think that having already seen one seventy, I would coast to my goal and easily surpass it, right? Wrong.
I have already seen the easy ones. It gets tougher with every new species I check off the list. Oh, I figure there are still about fourteen species that are sure-things; and maybe half a dozen that ought to be fairly easy with appropriate effort. But those last fifteen…well I need to be about as lucky as good. They will likely be some pretty fancy county birds if I can find them.
In my favor: There is still the fall migration to go; a longer, more protracted period than the spring migration. Shorebirds, a group I am lacking in right now will start moving through in mid-July. Terns, gulls, and maybe some other seabirds can start showing up at Lakes Norman and Wylie. Also, the Christmas Count season will begin in December which means there will be lots of birders in the field finding good stuff. I’ll be monitoring those count results to find out what’s being seen where. I fully intend to take advantage of other area birders’ prowess, which is considerable. A dissipating tropical storm system that would pass close to Mecklenburg County could really bring in some odd birds and allow me to smash the record. But that is a long shot.
So stay tuned. I’ll give periodic updates of my progress through the rest of the year.
Peregrine Falcon by Taylor Piephoff