“On The Road”

Smokey Mountains & Hilton Head Island

As with all good things this vacation must come to an end. It was an excellent time overall with some great birding, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Even in the Smokey Mountains where the weather can be pretty nasty, it was super as well.

Now on with the birds. Other than the Painted Buntings I had no other “Life Bird”. All the birds seen I’ve seen before up here in Ohio or while on my previous visit to Hilton Head. Overall I ticked off 70 birds.

Here’s a list of the birds seen.

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Black Vulture
  3. Bald eagle
  4. Osprey
  5. Red-shouldered Hawk
  6. Cooper’s Hawk
  7. Pileated Woodpecker
  8. Hairy Woodpecker
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  11. Northern Flicker
  12. Common Crow
  13. Fish Crow
  14. Blue Jay
  15. Brown Thrasher
  16. Northern Mockingbird
  17. American Robin
  18. Northern Cardinal
  19. Yellow-throated Vireo
  20. Red-eyed Vireo
  21. Black-throated Green Warbler
  22. Common Yellowthroat
  23. Blackburnian Warbler
  24. Magnolia Warbler
  25. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  26. Rose=breasted Grosbeak
  27. Tufted Titmouse
  28. Carolina Chickadee
  29. Carolina Wren
  30. Cedar Waxwing
  31. Eastern Towhee
  32. Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
  33. Swainson’s Thrush
  34. Veery
  35. Scarlet Tanager
  36. Gray Catbird
  37. Red-winged Blackbird
  38. Boat-tailed Grackle
  39. Painted Bunting
  40. Barred Owl
  41. Anhinga
  42. Clapper Rail
  43. Belted Kingfisher
  44. Brown Pelican
  45. Double-creasted Cormorant
  46. Great Blue Heron
  47. Great Egret
  48. Snowy Egret
  49. Tri-colored Egret
  50. Little Blue Heron
  51. Willet
  52. White Ibis
  53. Least Sandpiper
  54. Semipalmated sandpiper
  55. Piping Plover
  56. Semipalmated Plover
  57. Black-bellied Plover
  58. Marbled Godwit
  59. Black Skimmer
  60. Sanderling
  61. Caspian Tern
  62. Royal Tern
  63. Common Tern
  64. Sandwich Tern
  65. Forsters Tern
  66. Least Tern
  67. Laughing Gull
  68. Herring Gull
  69. Ring-billed Gull
  70. Bonaparte’s Gull

IMG_3060Fish Haul Creek with the tide going out. Looking Southeast

IMG_3151Looking Northwest

IMG_3046There was a small flock of 20 to 25 Marbled Godwits feeding just far enough away where you couldn’t get any closeup pictures.

IMG_3058During high tide small slips of sand became jammed with hundreds of birds. Sorting through this many, and picking out each species was a challenge. The larger birds would block all the smaller birds that were feeding so picking them out of the crowd proved difficult.

IMG_3034Female Painted Bunting

IMG_3901There was this one Anhinga that would always hang out in the lagoon that was located at the hotel we stayed at.

IMG_3084Osprey was the most common Raptor. I really had to sneak up on this one.

IMG_3036Semipalmated Plover

IMG_3200Black-bellied Plover

IMG_3175Willet

IMG_3126I followed this Little Blue Heron for about an hour trying to get the best shot with the sun behind my back.

IMG_3211The bird finally moved out to open water where I was able to get this pretty good photo.

IMG_3121Piping Plover

IMG_3191A little further away, but a touch clearer.

IMG_3918Laughing Gull

IMG_3152These pictures of the Saltmarsh Sparrows are heavily cropped, so the quality is pretty bad however you are able to pick out the field markings that ID’d these birds. There was a total of 3 Saltmarsh Sparrows and I was able to get 2 in one shot.

IMG_3153Note the heavier streaking and the buffy color on the breast. In this picture you can see the dark malar stripes that border the white throat.

IMG_3155

IMG_3159I stumbled upon these birds completely by accident. I was trying to get myself into better position as the tide was going out. I wanted to get a closer look at a large group of birds on this sand bar when the Sparrows flushed. Moving to get a better look I started to sink in the muck that makes up a Saltwater Marsh. I was sinking, my scope was sinking, and I was trying to “pish” these birds out into the open to get any kind of documented photograph. Trying to fine focus was the last thing on my mind at the time.

Already we’re talking about the next time we go down to Hilton Head. Maybe in the Spring in a few years. But in the mean time this was another memorable trip and I hope  you enjoyed my posts.

IMG_3913

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