Monday, October 26, 2015

It's been awhile, between the Windows 10 diaster and the almost Hurricane ,I don't know which was the bad one.

Arriving on the beach where we are going to band some Terns. We had never done Turns and as we would actually do the banding ourselves we were really excited to do this trip.

Some of the parent Terns are a little upset with us. They really didn't want us there and swirled around above us doing what birds do best in large numbers. Poo . We did not escape the bombing runs without some thing to show for all their hard work.

At every step we have to be really careful as their nest are just small holes in the sand and these little ones at this stage cannot even move their heads .

As we move over the Island we start to see groups of young clustering with a brave parent who has stayed despite our being there. Just for the record the little ones don't hurt when the bite, on the other hand the adults will really give you a good nip if you let them.

As the clusters get larger we herd them like cattle to a central location to start the banding process. But of course herding them is more like herding cats than herding cattle.

Scared and tired they move onto the beach and try to escape.

And then the banding begins Just a pair of pliers that look like a Sta Kon tool and just had me a bird ,a quick crimp and then just let them down easy and off to find their mom. The Biologist said the parent has no trouble find their babies.

Lauren holding a little one to tired to leave after being banded. We did around 6 thousand birds on this trip with Lauren and I doing almost 2 thousand of them. Really beat after spending 6 hours doing them. But loved every minute of it.

Cape Hatteras Light house has a new area set aside now for all the old foundation stones with all the light keepers names carved into them. The stones have been hid away for the last few years as a decision had to made as to where to display them and nothing moves fast with the NPS.

A beautiful day at the beach. So deceiving as the sand was so hot it could blister the bottoms of your feet if you didn't move fast enough.

Our arrival at the Pelican Rookery Island was not well received by the parents. It was a mass exodus of adult who also did a few fly by bombing runs over us before settling in just of the island and waited for us to go.

The young are so gentle and really are very easy to handle. Their only defense is to poo or throw up their last meal of funky fish on you as you pick them up. Still worth it to hold them.

Lauren getting a baby ready for banding.

Just out of the shell and are to cute and very fragile.

One just out and the other one piping as we watched. Can't band these little ones but really something to watch.

As we moved across the Island we found several Cormorant nests mixed in with the Pelicans. We learned that they often nest right along side of the Pelicans and they all take care of each other.

Holding the young Cormorants we found  their feathers feel almost like fur. Very smooth and we also learned they don't have oil glands like ducks do , so that's the reason after they do their diving to feed they have to stay out of the water and hold their wings open to dry them.

A group or Turns swirl around us as we moved across the Pelican Rookery.

One of the parents flies over us on a bombing run as they are trying to get us t leave the nesting area. We managed to not get hit. Really lucky for us, not so for a few of the others in our party.

Laure consoling some of the little one.

Yea,  I know who is going to get banded next, Sorry but it has to be done.

Cutie wanting to go after the deer eating out of our bird feeder.

Lauren at our FWS display at a First Friday program in Manteo. We always have a good time talking to the passers by as in most cases it's the local residents who come by. Always an eye opener on their view of US Fish and Wildlife Service and what their government dollars are being spent on. Some times we just have a good laugh when they leave.
A mom and two cubs just enjoying their afternoon stroll down one of the not so traveled roads on the Alligator River Refuge. We also spend some time their , some really good and some not when we were evacuated from Pea Island when the Weather Channel had the world coming to and end when the hurricane was first predicted to come ashore in NC and we needed to be off the beach. There was some minor flooding on Pea Island an yes the road was closed for 5 days , but that happens here all the time and such is life when you live on a sand bar.

Mom is taking the little ones off to munch on the part of the corn field that has just been picked and there is plenty of corn that the machines have missed.

Another bear looking over the soybeans and looking for the best spot to settle in for some good eats.

As the sun sets over the marsh in Manns Harbor a really cool thing is going to happen.

Around a hundred thousand Purple Martins start to come out of the surrounding marshes and begin to settle in on their nests under the bridge . There are so many birds at Sunrise and Sunset that they have to lower the speed limit on the bridge as to not kill thousands of birds in one pass.

As they start to swirl around and around the bridge the flapping of their wings start to drown out all the other noises as their chirping becomes just one low back round noise. As it gets really dark all you can see is the glow from their eyes and then it just becomes quiet. It was just so amazing to witness this wonder of nature.
We also did a school program last week at the local Community Collage for all the 3rd and 4ht grade schools in Manteo. It was a good day as we knew what to expect. We had done this last year at the same place. It was a different experience as ll the children walked to the be at the program. Some walked over a half hour to get there, it seems that busing to all programs no matter how close they are is not and option here. You have to love the attitude of the school administrator's . They have feet and they can walk.

We also did some costumes for the kids. Of course the Fire service come with Smokey the Bear and our Blue  Goose for FWS and some big dummy as the Tuttle . Those costumes are really hot .
Some Cedar Waxwings in the berry bushes in front of the Pea Island VC
Our bird feeder deer strikes a pose by the bird feeder for me. Yea, I know it needs some more seed.

Cutie still hoping.
The Waxwing catching some reflections from the berry bush

We are at the first day of the Refuges Wings Over Water week long Birding Fest and the Grackles have already figured out that when the Birders eat donuts and muffins they leave behind lots of crumbs. Lauren and I man the early morning Hospitality Station at Pea Island and I really don't know who is more entertaining , the folks we get to talk to or the birds who have figured out the free meal they can have when we are not paying attention.

Catching up

We can never get over the beauty of a sunrise on the Pea Island Refuge . This past week was the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival and the weather was just awesome. The days were in the low 70's and the nights were clear and in the low 60's. It was perfect for all involved. So many day and night refuge programs that everyone was always on the go.

I have a lot of Sunrise shots as Lauren and I had volunteered to do early morning Hospitality at Pea Island so we were there every morning at 6:15 each day to greet the early Birding tours and offer some coffee, tea or hot cider and an assortment of backed goods donated by the not so local bake shop, 25 miles away and what favorites Sam's club offered, 100 miles away in Virginia. We just loved talking to the Birders form all over the US and from Germany and France, China and Japan. Way cool working with the language barrier at times. Always love it when the Germans come in with a picture of a Raccoon and as they don't have any in Germany . Just great.

A young Cedar Waxwing hung out in front of the PI VC for 4 of the five days and there are now several thousand pictures of this poor bird all over the world today. It had been feasting on some fermented berries on the bushes by the VC and nothing really bothered it until the last day when a couple of Black rat snakes showed up and he beat a fast retreat.

With a little down time between birding tours and chance to grab a little coffee mocha and enjoy the sun. Each morning seemed a little weird as the wind always blows here and for 4 straight days it was almost non existent  . It made set easy but with no wind the mosquitoes made their little nasty selves at home with the blood tasting they enjoy so much. Thank the heavens for the all natural bug spray we have, smell great with no chemicals and it works. The mosquitoes here have stripes on their legs and cute faces.

Did I mention the beautiful Sunrise each day. Yea

The big woolly caterpillars are every where and if you believe in the old tales then we are in for a colder winter.

One of the beach water birding groups checking out the beach from the top of the dune across from the VC .

Lauren helping the Red Wolf Intern do his program before we go into Alligator River refuge for the after dark Red Wolf Howling. It is a really awesome program as we all drive into the amazingly dark refuge for several miles. AR is 155 thousand acres . We arrive at several gates to unlock and run the mosquito gauntlet as we arrive at our destination  .The Intern leaves us and disappears into the dark and few minutes later we can hear the Red Wolves howling off in the darkness. Just the best. These are the only Red Wolves still in the wild in the World. We had a chance to hear them when we were evacuated to Alligator River for the non hurricane . There are right now at least three separate groups moving around in this section of AR and we still hope they survive in the wild and  the government cut backs as they are slowly losing the fight for funding.