Saturday, July 16, 2011

Painted Bunting Hunting

My birding friend and I set out early this morning with determination to see the Painted Buntings today. They come in to the Wilmington /Fort Fisher /Carolina Beach area each summer. We headed out about 0430 this morning and arrived in time to see the sunrise.

We set out through the marsh first. Rivers of bright green marsh grass were blowing in the wind between batches of brown reeds. As we walked swatting and cursing the mosquitoes, I thought about what it must have been like for the men who were stationed there during the Civil War and again during WWII. A bunker remains on the trail that I suppose was used for ammo storage during WWII. In 1941, Cpl. Theodore "Ted" Liwin, 445th AAA Bn said "Hell hole! The biggest joke we had going were "combat mosquitoes" that were at the airport. They pumped 50 gallons of gas in them before they found out it was a mosquito!" Well for sure nothing has changed in that regard. This time of year, almost intolerable. Had a good breeze not been blowing today.....

Not much luck there so we turned around and headed for another location. We stopped and listened to the PB call so we would be sure to recognize it. We had not been walking long after that when to the delight of our ears, the Painted Bunting. We walked ever so slowly checking all the trees and brush. We rounded a curve on the path and there it was! After several shots it flew and we followed. Mosquitoes were just wrapping us up at this point but the quest was on.

We finally lost track and by this time both needed water so headed back to the car. As we walked back by a little pond area we looked over and there was a juvenile Ibis sitting in the tree. A few quick shots before it flew.

Breakfast being long gone by now, we headed toward the ferry for a trip over to Southport. I don't know why but I have always loved to go on ferries. It was a wonderful trip over with gulls and pelicans as constant companions. Arriving at Southport we found a local fish house and stopped to eat. With a nice breeze we decided to opt for a table out on the dock. We watched the boats coming in and out and pelicans diving for fish.

It was an absolutely wonderful day but now time for that two hour drive back home. Much discussion on how nice instant teleportation would be versus the long drive home. Beam me up Scotty!

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