Thousands of everything

An AMAZING day birding. Real birding. A bird race. From the moment we left the house, all eyes to the sky, water, trees and bushes. Every species we saw was listed. 81 species was the total, by the time we wearily but merrily returned home in the evening.

I went to the coast on our wonderful birding day trip, with Ali
and Mike Lubbock, and Frank Todd (author of many waterfowl books).

Along the roads we saw multitudes of Turkey vulture, Black vulture, American kestrel, Northern harrier, and Red-tailed hawk. I also saw my first glorious Bald eagle swoop right over the car. Swoop swoop!

Occasionally I saw a tree full of vultures. Mixed species. Like overgrown baubles on a Christmas tree.

There were many highlights of the day. Lotsa wildlife ‘moments’.

We crept up on ‘some’ swans. Thousands of them actually. Whistling swans (recently renamed Tundra swans). The beautiful sounds they make… It was glorious. Every now and then a whole group would take off, creating scrumptious photo opportunities. At this same site I saw my first American bittern and first muskrat. We also watched an adorable Belted kingfisher. Much bigger than kingfishers I’ve met previously. Eastern phoebe flycatcher, Least tern, and American coot too.

At Phelps Lake we saw American ruddy duck, Ring-billed gull, Pied-billed grebe, Common merganser, Canada 🍁 goose, Common loon (diver in English!), Red-winged blackbird, Pine siskin, Bufflehead, Hooded merganser, Double-crested cormorant, Great egret, and Least tern. And White-tailed deer.

At the Alligator River reserve we saw hundreds of Common shoveler and hundreds of Northern pintail. In the UK I get rather excited when I see just one! American (Baldplate) wigeon, American green-winged teal, Killdeer, Dunlin, Gadwall, Lesser yellowlegs. And … an enormous otter!

Then we headed for the Outer Banks. An endless stretch of land and dunes that protects the coastal area from floods and erosion. And creates some fantastic wildlife habitat in between. Destination Pea Island, where hundreds of thousands of Snow geese have been seen. Here I saw Lesser black-backed gull, American avocet, Red-breasted merganser, White pelican, Brown pelican, Great cormorant (though I’m calling them the Giant cormorant, as this title suits them well), Tri-coloured heron, Black night heron, Greater scaup, and wait for it…  two snoozing Snow goose. Ah well, I have been rather spoilt for one day. However, I did see a dolphin…!

Dead stuff. Road casualties. Racoon, skunk, and possum! And something very grim. A swan sitting lonesome in the middle of a field. Vultures and crows nearby for company. Probably a shotgun wound. And due to a ridiculously backward law here, nobody can rescue the swan until the season is closed. So the vultures sit and wait. Urghh!

I did observe non-wildlife ish stuff too. I promise! Such as gravestone clusters on farmland, not too far from old plantation houses. The graves of slaves. Think ‘Twelve Years a Slave’. Spine shuddering. These graves are protected places now. Reminders of a grim slave history.

We visited Macdonalds for Breakfast/brunch. Looking at the menu screen I may aswell have been attempting to read Chinese. I ordered an Egg Biscuit (a bit like a savoury scone) with egg in the middle, and a Hash brown (I knew what that was!). And a black coffee! The food was fried and utterly tasteless. The coffee was surprisingly good.

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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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