Friday, June 10, 2016

One of the Area's Most Unusual Birds Ever

I have written about rarities that are attracted to large inland reservoirs but I never thought I would be writing about this one; a brown booby has appeared at Lookout Shoals Lake on the Catawba County / Iredell County line, specifically at the Sharon Boat Access area. I have seen the species only twice in North Carolina; both times at the coast.

Boobies are a family of mostly tropical, heavy bodied plunge-divers. They are found over the open ocean where they dive head-first for fish in tropical waters or along the warm Gulf Stream. Occasionally an individual of one of the several species will show up on a southeastern beach, jetty, or buoy marker.

The occurrence of this species between Charlotte and Hickory is absolutely astounding This bird has taken up on a favorite perch on a rock outcrop where it has been seen by many birders over the last week and a half. It seems content, and can be seen plunge-diving for fish in the larger portions of the lake.

Why this bird arrived in the North Carolina Piedmont is a mystery. Boobies are known to wander well north of the tropics but rarely inland. Maybe this is just a wandering bird, or perhaps it was influenced by the recent Tropical Storm that came in near Charleston. The true answer will not be known. And it is unknown when this bird will decide to move on, which it inevitably will. for now though, it seems entirely content to stay put.

Regardless, this is one of the rarest birds to ever be found in our area.

Brown Booby at Lookout Shoals by Lori Owenby
Here are details and directions from the Carolinabirds listserve:

To get to the Sharon Boat
access area, take I-40 to exit 141 and go north on Sharon School Rd for 1.4
miles and turn left onto Island Ford Rd. Follow Island Ford Rd for 0.4
miles and turn right onto Old Lion Rd and follow it to the end where the
boat access is. The Booby flew (presumably to feed) toward the Catawba
County side and out of sight. If you look for it from the Catawba County
side, the rock it is favoring is the smaller rock ledge to the left of the
large rock face that is most visible.

1 comments: said...

You are right that I have not seen this bird before anywhere around. It's a rare sight to see these birds and you have been successful in it. Thanks for sharing the picture!