Monday, December 22, 2014

Avoiding Getting Skunked on the Gastonia Christmas Bird Count

Last Saturday I covered the Rankin Lake / Gastonia Technology Parkway section for the Gastonia Christmas Bird Count. It was a cold morning with a steady drizzle for most of the early morning but that didn't seem to cut down on the bird activity.

I was getting birds by dawn, with a calling great horned owl and a displaying American woodcock. A surprise pre-dawn encounter  with a striped skunk ended in a negotiated truce (actually I totally caved in to it's demands) which allowed me to continue on for the rest of the day.

Highlights for my day included a cooperative sedge wren, a blue-gray gnatcatcher, and a nice adult bald eagle. I ended up with 57 species for about nine hours of birding.
Next up: Charlotte Christmas Bird Count on December 27th.

This sedge wren was photographed last year at the exact same spot where I found one this year. It is likely the same bird that I saw last year. Sedge wrens are rare anytime in the piedmont, even more so in the winter.

Sedge Wren by Ron Clark

Like sedge wrens, blue-gray gnatcatchers are rare in winter in the piedmont. they are very common migrants and breeders within our area. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers by Phil Fowler

Bald eagles are increasing in the piedmont. They have been found nesting well within the city limits of municipalities within the region.

Bald Eagle by Phil Fowler