Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hooray for the coast!

This weekend I got to go to Brunswick for the Georgia Ornithological Society's spring meeting. I had never been to the coast before so I was pretty excited about it, with visions of terns and sandpipers dancing in my head.

Before we even got to Brunswick, I spied a big bird squatting on a powerline by the side of the road as we were whizzing to our destination. I was expecting it to be a hawk, but instead it was a barred owl, who was shortly joined by a second owl!

It's a long story, but barred owls are the bird that got me into the whole birding thing in the first place, so needless to say I have a soft spot for them and I was thrilled at the unexpected encounter.

The second owl flew back into the woods next to the road, and the first owl stayed on the powerline gazing intently at the grass below. Then he spied something and flew to a tree to get a better look at it, moving his head like a snake.

Voila! Dinner is served.

We checked in at the hotel and after meeting the fellow birders, retired early in anticipation of the morning trip to Jekyll Island.

There was a colony of Wood Storks at the Ampitheatre (I think that was it, I'm not very good with places) and they were nesting! I have a new bird to add to my list of favorites.

Carrying nesting material!

Then we went to the South Beach and got to see lots of terns! My dream come true. There were Royal, Forster's, Gull-billed, Least, and Sandwich Terns.

There were also Brown Pelicans and Black Skimmers- I must say the pelicans looked rather goofy standing amidst the elegant terns.
My camera was acting up that day, but we also went to a birdbath located in one of the campground and got to see warblers splashing around in the bath. Northern Parula, Black-and-white, and Yellow-rumped Warblers all came down to enjoy the facilities. A Worm-eating Warbler was seriously considering it, but decided to just spritz on some perfume instead and hope it covered up the stank.
That night we enjoyed a banquet and a talk on Roger Tory Peterson. Then the next day, it was off to Little St. Simon's Island.
On the way, we stopped at some random place (again, I'm not good with places) where there was marsh habitat and really cool birds.
Unfortunately I didn't get a picture, but one of the best parts of the day was seeing a Clapper Rail taking a bath!
Little Blue Heron
Red-winged Blackbird- they may be common birds but I love their style.
Then we went on to LSSI...

Yellow-crowned Night Heron skulking in the grass with blazing yellow eyes.

Black-necked Stilt!

Solitary Sandpiper being solitary.
Other birds we got to see were Mottled Ducks WITH CHICKS, Sora, Common Moorhens, both kinds of Dowitchers, both kinds of Yellowlegs, and Glossy Ibis.

Hermit crab- I saw a Willet trying to eat this guy but his house protected him.

Red-winged Blackbirds completing their toilette.

My favorite of favorite herons, the Green Heron, rocking the mohawk.
After riding the boat back to the mainland, it was time to head back to school and obligations, but with a lot more sanity than I came in with thanks to good birds and good company.