Monday, April 9, 2012

Birds on the Pamlico

Sunset on South Creek looking out to the Pamlico River

April 7-8 2012

I want a book.  It will be called something like “A Natural History of the Inner Banks of NC” or something like that.  I’ve been looking for this book for some time now, but haven’t found it.  Instead I scored a used copy of “The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds” at a used bookstore in Asheville for ten dollars!  A bargain!  I took this book to bed and read it.  I scanned the maps for birds that would be found on the coast of NC.  I was delighted to find them organized by type, so that the gull-like birds are all in one place and the “duck-like birds” and the “long-legged wading birds.”

This weekend we discovered some newbies.  Horned Grebes (aka Podiceps auritus) are here nesting and we spotted them bobbing in the middle of the river.  They are cute little speckled brown ducks with white faces noted for their remarkable ability to control their specific gravity (whatever that is) so they can float low or high in the water.  I took a picture of them, but it’s too far away to really see.


Horned Grebe on the Pamlico River, looking out to the Sound.

On the way into South Creek, I saw a very large nest on top of a green marker.  Eric got the binoculars and said there were two bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in it.  Don’t need the book for that one!  I couldn’t look because we were running the crab pot gauntlet.  After I snagged yet another one, we decided Eric would drive through the mess, but we were already well past the nest. 

The book, which was published in 1977, says the eagles are endangered because they eat fish washed up on shore that are contaminated with pesticides.  Wikipedia says the pesticide was DDT and although the species was seriously endangered back in 1977, it was removed from the U.S. federal government's list of endangered species and transferred to the list of threatened species on July 12, 1995, and it was removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in the Lower 48 States on June 28, 2007.  Happy news for us birdwatchers.

I love listening for the cries of the Herring Gulls and the Laughing Gulls.  Turns out the white-headed ones are the Herring Gulls and they’re actually south of their usual range here but growing more and more common as the years go by.  (Global warming, perhaps?)  They threaten the Laughing Gulls by attacking their nests and eating the eggs.  I love to hear them laughing.  I can’t believe I never knew their name until now.

Can’t wait to get back and see more birds and more sunrises on the water and more sailing and exploring.  Every time we go we think we can’t possibly have more fun and we do!!  Can’t wait to get the kids out there either!

I am entranced by the light on the sail, the colors and the mast
 Special thanks to Gil and Laura of Hodges Street Sails in Oriental for the excellent work on the sails! 


  1. Nice post! What's a "crab pot gauntlet"?

    1. Thanks, Michael! It's nice to know someone is reading! The crab pots are just everywhere and avoiding them in a narrow channel while under sail is a big challenge. I always feel bad about snagging them. It's someone's livelihood.

  2. I love your photo of South Creek. So much beautiful water in Pamlico County.

    1. Thanks, Mamie, it is gorgeous out there, easy to take a great photo!