Beach weather was finally upon us, so we introduced Mason to the Atlantic. Unsurprisingly, he has as little use for the ocean as he did for the pool. The birding wasn’t very good either. We spotted a Carolina Wren on the way there, the first one we’ve identified on our own. We also added Semipalmated Plover to our trip list. Other than that, it was just the usual pelicans, osprey, gulls, and terns.
Actually, we also spotted sparrows. I hesitate to mention this because we did such a poor job of identifying these little brown jobs during our trip. We definitely saw Seaside Sparrow amidst the dunes. We also noticed a few House Sparrows, which is a lot fewer than we usually deal with. But I think new species like Field and Lark Sparrow may have also crossed out paths, though we never got good enough looks to call them. Sparrows can be very frustrating to inexperienced birders because they are all so superficially similar. We’ll get them next time.
Sara and I took advantage of the readily available babysitting and snuck out for a dinner date. After dinner, we drove north on the island until we ran out of road. At the terminus of NC 12, the only vehicles allowed are those boasting 4-wheel drive. As new owners of a beautiful Subaru Outback, to which we owe much of the success of this trip, we suddenly gained entry to a whole new way of appreciating the ocean. We joined the other cars, trucks, and SUVs in gleefully tearing up the sands. The most amazing and unexpected feature of this endeavor was that there were tons of shorebirds on this beach despite the reckless traffic. Although we wanted to park and cross to the water’s edge to check out the waders, the act would have been akin to parking on the median and crossing a highway. Instead, we birded from the front seat and actually picked up a new bird, the Ruddy Turnstone. That is a good looking bird, although smaller than I thought it would be.