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NC PSO Hatteras Pelagic Trip – Part 1

Mike Lanzone|

Black Skimmer putting a show on for the group, it was just several meters in front of the group passing back and forth showing a juv. skimmer how to skim!
Photo by Mike Lanzone

On August 9-13 the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology had an out-of-state field trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. A total of 35 participants ventured down to NC for several days of land birding followed by two days of pelagic trips out of Hatteras, NC. This series of posts will show some of the highlights of this epic trip! We will first start with the land birding.

Least Terns were very common almost everywhere we went on OBX. This one came in close to check us out while birding on Pea Island NWR Photo by Mike Lanzone

Least Terns were very common almost everywhere we went on OBX. This one came in close to check us out while birding on Pea Island NWR
Photo by Mike Lanzone

Immature White Ibis flying over Pea Island NWR Photo by Alex Lamoreaux

Immature White Ibis flying over Pea Island NWR
Photo by Alex Lamoreaux

Friday through Sunday the group birded from Bodie Island down to Hatteras. The early part of the time on Friday afternoon and Saturday we spent a lot of time up near Pea Island NWR. Birding in late summer was fairly good on the NWR, with decent numbers of shorebirds, terns, and herons around. Several highlights included two Reddish Egrets at the Pea Island Visitors Center, Blue Grosbeak at Bodie Island, Gull-billed Tern and many shorebirds at the Salt Flats.

One of the two Reddish Egrets seen at Pea Island NWR  Photo by Alex Lamoreaux

One of the two Reddish Egrets seen at Pea Island NWR
Photo by Alex Lamoreaux

PSO Group birding Pea Island NWR Photo by Andy McGann

PSO Group birding Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Photo by Andy McGann

On Sunday we started the day down on Cape Hatteras Island near the lighthouse. Although the day started slow, things quickly picked up near the Salt Pond. Good groups of terns, herons, and shorebirds were around and gave everyone plenty to look at. It was nice for many people in the group to get good looks at species they rarely, if ever, get to see in PA. The numerous Royal Terns alongside Caspian gave everyone nice comparative views.

Royal Tern near Cape Hatteras Photo by Mike Lanzone

Royal Tern near Cape Hatteras
Photo by Mike Lanzone

Caspian Tern at the Salt Pond on Hatteras Island Photo by Mike Lanzone

Caspian Tern at the Salt Pond on Hatteras Island
Photo by Mike Lanzone

 

One surprise was at least 4 Cottonmouths on the flats on the far side of the Salt Pond! This Tricolored at one point seemed to be almost stepping on one very large one…

Cottonmouth near a Tri-colored Heron Photo digiscoped by Andy McGann

Cottonmouth near a Tricolored Heron (Included in video below!)
Photo digiscoped by Andy McGann

One definite highlight was the groups of terns flying all around us at the Salt Pond, 7 species total. This adult and juvenile Black Skimmer (below) seemed oblivious to our presence. The adult bird seemed to be showing the juvenile bird how to skim. These two made countless very close passes to the group, at times only several meters in front of us!! Quite amazing looks! Be sure to watch the slow-motion skimmer action in the video below.

Black Skimmer putting a show on for the group, it was just several meters in front of the group passing back and forth showing a juv. skimmer how to skim!  Photo by Mike Lanzone

Black Skimmer putting a show on for the group, it was just several meters in front of the group passing back and forth showing a juv. skimmer how to skim!
Photo by Mike Lanzone

Juv. Black Skimmer that was skimming with an adult several meters in front of the group! Photo by Mike Lanzone

Juv. Black Skimmer that was skimming with an adult several meters in front of the group!
Photo by Mike Lanzone

Juvenile Black Skimmer Photo by Alex Lamoreaux

Juvenile Black Skimmer
Photo by Alex Lamoreaux

PSO Group looking at herons, shorebirds and many large Cottonmouths!! Photo by Andy McGann

PSO Group looking at herons, shorebirds and many large Cottonmouths!!
Photo by Andy McGann

Nice mixed group of gulls and terns at the Salt Pond on Hatteras Island Phoito digiscoped by Andy McGann

Nice mixed group of gulls and terns at the Salt Pond on Hatteras Island
Photo digiscoped by Andy McGann

For many people on the trip this was their first time on the Outer Banks, and many lifers were added to lists over the land birding portion. Here are a few other photos and videos from the land birding portion of the trip

White Ibis flying over the group Photo by Mike Lanzone

White Ibis flying over the group
Photo by Mike Lanzone

Sandwich Terns were quite common along the Outer Banks Photo by Mike Lanzone

Sandwich Terns were quite common along the Outer Banks
Photo by Mike Lanzone

Part of the PSO Group birding Hatteras Photo by Andy McGann

Part of the PSO Group birding Hatteras
Photo by Andy McGann

Wall Cloud approaching one of the houses  we were staying at in Salvo. The roof deck was a great vantage! Photo by Andy McGann

Wall Cloud approaching one of the houses we were staying at in Salvo. The roof deck was a great vantage point to birdwatch from!
Photo and screenshot by Andy McGann

Andy McGann also put together the following video from this days birding.

Here are a few of the checklists from the land bird portion of the trip-

About the Author

Mike Lanzone

Mike started birding when he was 8, and has worked as a field ornithologist for various state, federal, and private organizations across the United States and Mexico. Recently he was the Assistant Coordinator for the 2nd Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas and the Biotechnology and Biomonitoring Lab Supervisor stationed at Powdermill, the biological research station of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

In the spring of 2011 he was awarded the Conservation Award from the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology for the work done on eastern Golden Eagles. Currently, Mike is the Chief Executive Officer of Cellular Tracking Technologies in Somerset, PA. His major foci include Golden Eagle flight behavior and telemetry and nocturnal monitoring of birds using flight calls. A lot of his work recently has focused on advances in the application of bioacoustics to the monitoring of geographically remote breeding populations of songbirds in North America and, hopefully, around the world.

When he isn’t working he spends much of his time outside birding, photography and gardening. In addition to serving on several board of directors for NGOs, Mike currently serves on the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee and is the vice president for Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology.

  • Jeffrey Mann

    Those are great photos, Mike. What kind of lens do you use with your camera?