North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO2 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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Page 47 of 139

N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 222 S O U T H E R N AT L A N T I C Murres were seen at Mason Inlet, New Hanover, NC 17 Jan (LB et al.), at Oregon Inlet, Dare, NC 7 Feb (JE et al., m.ob.), and alongside Cherry Grove Pier, Horry, SC 17 Feb (BB). Good num - bers of Razorbills were observed at the n. edge of the Region, with 1430 counted on the 14 Feb Hatteras pelagic (BP et al.) and 1070 counted from shore off Jennette's Pier, Dare, NC 31 Jan (RD). Farther s., 52 and 35 were seen on pelagic trips from Chatham, GA 17 & 18 Jan (m.ob.). An Atlantic Puffin was seen on the 14 Feb Hatteras pelagic (ph. BP et al.). It was a fairly typical winter for rarer gulls, all of which were seen off North Carolina ex - cept for a Black-headed Gull seen at a restricted submarine base site in Camden, GA during the Cumberland Island C.B.C. 18-19 Dec (ph. CD). As many as 5 Little Gulls were seen on the Hat - teras pelagic trips of 17 Jan and 14 & 16 Feb (BP et al.), while birders attending the Caro - lina Bird Club winter meeting at Nags Head, Dare, NC were able to pick one out of a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls 30 Jan (RD et al.). An ad. Thayer's Gull was photographed on the Hatteras pelagic of 14 Feb (BP et al.). Several Iceland Gulls showed up in North Carolina, including at least 2 at Mason Inlet, New Hanover that were photographed over a six-week period 1 Jan–14 Feb after millions of bait fish washed up on shore (JA, SCo, DC et al.). Another was pho - tographed at Cape Point, Dare 18 Jan (TB), and continued to climb across the Region, especially along the coast, but a new state high count in Georgia came from White Oak Pastures in Early in the sw. part of the state, where 26 were ob - served 20 Dec, attracted to the opportunities presented by free-range chickens (AT). Rare for the n. South Carolina coastal plain, especially in winter, a Purple Gallinule was seen at Lake Conway, Horry 3-11 Feb (ph. ST et al.), and equally unusual in winter, 2 Limpkins were recorded on the Lake Blackshear C.B.C. in Georgia, only the second record of this species on a C.B.C. in that state (fide GB). A rough index of shorebird population trends in Georgia, the Mid-winter Shorebird Survey on the Georgia coast 23 Feb (hereafter, M.S.S.) totaled 67,214 shorebirds, more than double the previous year but well below 2013's record 95,400 (fide TK). High counts of American Avocets at traditional wintering sites were 650 at Savannah Spoil Site, Jasper, SC 18 Jan (SC) and 250 at Pea Island N.W.R., Dare, NC 31 Jan (PS et al.). American Oystercatcher numbers were strong also, with 600 counted in the Low Country C.B.C., Beau - fort, SC 17 Dec (fide KS) and 466 during the M.S.S. (fide TK). Very rare for the Atlantic coast, a Snowy Plover was seen on Little Tybee Island, Chatham, GA 15-16 Jan (RH, SM). An excellent number of 134 Wilson's Plovers was recorded on the M.S.S., and a record number of Piping Plovers, 29, came from the Lowcountry C.B.C. 17 Feb (fide TK, KS). The M.S.S. recorded a high number of 466 Marbled Godwits, and 319 were counted on the Cape Hatteras C.B.C. 27 Dec (fide PM). A white-necked ad. Ruff was photographed at Bear Island W.M.A., Colleton, SC 16-21 Feb (B&JP, CE)—the third Ruff found at this site within a year. Red Phalaropes were seen in decent numbers (300+) on pelagic trips out of Hatteras, NC DATE and Savannah, GA, and one at Pee Dee N.W.R., Anson, NC 18 Feb (MJ et al.) was extraordinary, considering that there are only two previous winter records of this species at an inland site in North Carolina. A Great Skua photographed in a tidal pool at Cape Point, Dare, NC 26 Feb (BK) was the first ever photographically documented on shore in the Carolinas; however, Brian Patteson notes that the majority of the state's Great Skuas in the past 15 years have been recorded within sight of land, mostly from around the latitude of Avon, where large groups of Northern Gan - nets often congregate at this cul-de-sac of the cold Labrador Current. Older sight records of skuas from shore come from Pea Island (e.g., 18 Feb 1974; American Birds 26: 626). Thirteen Parasitic Jaegers were noted on the Southport– Bald Head–Oaks Island C.B.C. 4 Jan (fide RC). Dovekie counts on pelagic trips out of Hatteras were 101 on 7 Feb, 161 on 14 Feb, and 107 on 16 Feb (BP et al.), while single Thick-billed Wrightsville Beach, New Hanover, NC 26-27 & 31 Dec (DC, SCo) and off Cape Point, Dare, NC 25 Jan (RD, DHo). The count of 730 Common Loons on the Camp Lejeune, NC C.B.C. 18 Dec (fide JD) was the highest tally on a 2014 C.B.C. A new Georgia statewide C.B.C. record of 352 Horned Grebes was set (fide GB), while 1-2 Red-necked Grebes were reported from a dozen scattered sites across the Region. Six Northern Fulmars were seen on pelagic trips off Hatteras, Dare, NC on both 7 & 14 Feb, while 16 Manx Shearwaters were seen on the 14 Feb trip (BP et al.). Eight reports of Great Cormorants in the Carolinas this winter included high counts of 6 at both the jetty at Cape Lookout, Carteret, NC 17 Jan (JF et al.) and Masonboro Inlet, Dare, NC 21 Feb (LB). Unusual for Georgia, Great Egrets were reported at several sites above the fall line this winter; not surprisingly, a new statewide C.B.C. total of 1466 was reported, along with a new state high for Glossy Ibis of 170 (fide GB). At least one White-faced Ibis overwintered at Mattamuskeet N.W.R., Hyde, NC (m.ob.). A rare Rough-legged Hawk was regularly seen along Cheek Mountain Rd., Allegheny, NC between 20 Dec and 7 Feb (fide HB, JP). Win - tering Golden Eagles, normally confined to the s. Appalachians, were more widely reported than usual, and ongoing research projects may shed new light on their winter range and move - ments through the Region. As expected, most sightings (5) were in the n. mountains of North Carolina, but 2 occurred on the Albemarle Pen - insula in e.North Carolina and one at Savannah River N.W.R., Jasper, SC 6 Dec (CE). In middle Georgia at Sprewell Bluff W.M.A., Upson, a De - partment of Natural Resources project part- nered with a local hunting club to photograph and trap birds coming to deer carcasses. Two in - dividuals were observed, and on 15 Feb a five- year-old bird was captured and subsequently tracked to its breeding grounds in Québec (fide NK). Another sighting—perhaps one of these individuals—came from adjacent Meriwether 26 Feb (TH). Bald Eagle numbers and nesting A Great Skua at Cape Point, Dare County, North Carolina 26 February 2015 was the first ever documented on land in North Carolina, where the species is a scarce winter resident just offshore. Photograph by Bobby Koch. This Chestnut-sided Warbler found along McGhee Road, Chatham County, North Carolina 21 December 2014 provided the first winter record of the species for the Carolinas. Photograph by Andrew Thornton. This rare Harris's Sparrow visited a feeder in Grovetown, Columbia County, Georgia 2 (here 22) February 2015 through the end of the winter season. Photograph by Aija Konrad.

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