Wake Audubon Blog

Alligator River Adventure

i Dec 8th No Comments by

Authored by Jeff Beane

This is a report on a joint field trip between NC State Museum of Natural Sciences and Wake Audubon. We visited the following areas between November 17th and

Sunset on the Scuppernong River at Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center.

Sunset on the Scuppernong River at Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center.

19th: Alligator River, Pea Island, and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges; Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve; Cape Hatteras National Seashore; Pettigrew and Jockey’s Ridge State Parks; and a few other stops.

Trip leaders: Jerry Reynolds, Jeff Beane, Martha Fisk

Other participants: Betty Lou Chaika, David Chaika, Marty Demko, Phyllis Demko, Eileen Hancox, Sue Harvey, Stephanie Horton, Jerry Johnson, Debbie Ludas, Mary McClure, Adair Pickard, Carole Stevens

Vertebrate Species Observed

* = observed only as dead-on-road (DOR) or otherwise dead specimens.

All photos by Jeff Beane.

Fishes

Gambusia holbrooki  Eastern Mosquitofish (many)

Amphibians

Acris gryllus  Southern Cricket Frog (many)

Rana catesbeiana [Lithobates catesbeianus]  American Bullfrog (at least 1)

The dune-sheltered maritime forest and interdunal freshwater ponds at Nags Head Woods provide unique habitat for species like the Southern Cricket Frog, which are common on the mainland but unable to survive on most of the Outer Banks.

The dune-sheltered maritime forest and interdunal freshwater ponds at Nags Head Woods provide unique habitat for species like the Southern Cricket Frog, which are common on the mainland but unable to survive on most of the Outer Banks.

American Bullfrog at Nags Head Woods

American Bullfrog at Nags Head Woods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reptiles

Chrysemys p. picta  Eastern Painted Turtle (several)

Pseudemys rubriventris  Red-bellied Cooter (several)

Trachemys s. scripta  Yellow-bellied Slider (many)

Coluber constrictor  Black Racer (1 adult male DOR) *

Nerodia taxispilota  Brown Water Snake (1 adult female)

Red-bellied Cooter at ARNWR. This species reaches the southeastern edge of its range in northeastern NC.

Red-bellied Cooter at ARNWR. This species reaches the southeastern edge of its range in northeastern NC.

Yellow-bellied Sliders, like these basking at Pea Island, are one reptile species that can often be seen on sunny days throughout the winter.

Yellow-bellied Sliders, like these basking at Pea Island, are one reptile species that can often be seen on sunny days throughout the winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday was warm enough for this Brown Water Snake to be out basking at ARNWR.

Sunday was warm enough for this Brown Water Snake to be out basking at ARNWR.

Birds

Our federal refuges provide critical wintering habitat for many waterfowl species, and they were packed in at Pea Island NWR. This view includes Bufflehead, Redhead, Northern Pintail, American Widgeon, Gadwall, American Black Duck, and Tundra Swan.

Our federal refuges provide critical wintering habitat for many waterfowl species, and they were packed in at Pea Island NWR. This view includes Bufflehead, Redhead, Northern Pintail, American Widgeon, Gadwall, American Black Duck, and Tundra Swan.

Tundra Swans, like these at ARNWR, are just one of many wildlife spectacles that our large coastal refuges have to offer.

Tundra Swans, like these at ARNWR, are just one of many wildlife spectacles that our large coastal refuges have to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aix sponsa  Wood Duck (at least 2 or 3)

American Widgeons at Pea Island NWR

American Widgeons at Pea Island NWR

Anas americana  American Widgeon (many)

Anas clypeata  Northern Shoveler (many)

Anas crecca  Green-winged Teal (many)

Anas platyrhynchos  Mallard (many)

Anas rubripes  American Black Duck (many)

Anas strepera  Gadwall (many)

This female King Eider at Pea Island was by far the rarest and most unexpected find of the trip!

This female King Eider at Pea Island was by far the rarest and most unexpected find of the trip!

Aythya americana  Redhead (several)

Aythya collaris  Ring-necked Duck (several)

Bucephala albeola  Bufflehead (many)

Melanitta americana  Black Scoter (several)

Somateria spectabilis  King Eider (1)

Branta canadensis  Canada Goose (many)

Oxyura jamaicensis  Ruddy Duck (a few)

Canada Goose at Pea Island. This trip offered plenty of looks at “real” (i.e., migratory) Canada Geese (as opposed to introduced/behaviorally-altered resident populations).

Canada Goose at Pea Island. This trip offered plenty of looks at “real” (i.e., migratory) Canada Geese (as opposed to introduced/behaviorally-altered resident populations).

Meleagris gallopavo  Wild Turkey (1 DOR) *

Podilymbus podiceps  Pied-billed Grebe (many)

Morus bassanus  Northern Gannet (many)

Phalacrocorax auritus  Double-crested Cormorant (many)

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos  American White Pelican (several)

Pelecanus occidentalis  Brown Pelican (many)

Ardea alba  Great Egret (at least 1)

Ardea herodias  Great Blue Heron (many)

Great Blue Heron at Alligator River NWR at sunset

Great Blue Heron at Alligator River NWR at sunset

Botaurus lentiginosus  American Bittern (1)

Egretta caerulea  Little Blue Heron (at least 1)

Egretta thula  Snowy Egret (a few)

Egretta tricolor  Tricolored Heron (at least 1 or 2)

Eudocimus albus  White Ibis (many)

Cathartes aura  Turkey Vulture (many)

White Ibis at Pea Island NWR

White Ibis at Pea Island NWR

Coragyps atratus  Black Vulture (several)

Buteo jamaicensis  Red-tailed Hawk (many)

Buteo lineatus  Red-shouldered Hawk (at least 1)

Circus cyaneus  Northern Harrier (many)

Haliaeetus leucocephalus  Bald Eagle (many)

Falco columbarius  Merlin (1)

Falco sparverius  American Kestrel (many)

Fulica americana  American Coot (many)

American Kestrel at Alligator River NWR

American Kestrel at Alligator River NWR

American Coots at Pea Island NWR

American Coots at Pea Island NWR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charadrius vociferus  Killdeer (many)

Pluvialis squatarola  Black-bellied Plover (several)

Calidris alba  Sanderling (many)

Black-bellied Plover at Pea Island

Black-bellied Plover at Pea Island

Sanderling on Coquina Beach

Sanderling on Coquina Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calidris alpina  Dunlin (several)

Gallinago delicata  Wilson’s Snipe (1)

Tringa flavipes  Lesser Yellowlegs (a few)

Tringa semipalmata  Willet (many)

Lesser Yellowlegs at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Lesser Yellowlegs at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Willet on Coquina Beach

Willet on Coquina Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chroicocephalus philadelphia  Bonaparte’s Gull (several)

Larus argentatus  Herring Gull (many)

Larus delawarensis  Ring-billed Gull (many)

Larus marinus  Great Black-backed Gull (many)

Leucophaeus atricilla  Laughing Gull (many)

Ring-billed Gull at Nags Head

Ring-billed Gull at Nags Head

Laughing Gull on the beach at Nags Head.

Laughing Gull on the beach at Nags Head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sterna forsteri  Forster’s Tern (many)

Columba livia  Rock Pigeon (many)

Zenaida macroura  Mourning Dove (many)

Bubo virginianus  Great Horned Owl (1 heard)

Strix varia  Barred Owl (1)

Megaceryle alcyon  Belted Kingfisher (at least 3 or 4)

Colaptes auratus  Northern Flicker (several)

Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Northern Flicker at Alligator River NWR.

Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Northern Flicker at Alligator River NWR.

Dryocopus pileatus  Pileated Woodpecker (at least 2 or 3)

Melanerpes carolinus  Red-bellied Woodpecker (several)

Picoides pubescens  Downy Woodpecker (at least 2)

Sayornis phoebe  Eastern Phoebe (several)

Vireo solitarius  Blue-headed Vireo (1)

Eastern Phoebe at Alligator River NWR.

Eastern Phoebe at Alligator River NWR.

Corvus brachyrhynchos  American Crow (many)

Cyanocitta cristata  Blue Jay (several)

Tachycineta bicolor  Tree Swallow (many)

Baeolophus bicolor  Tufted Titmouse (several)

Poecile carolinensis  Carolina Chickadee (several)

Cistothorus palustris  Marsh Wren (at least 1 or 2)

Thryothorus ludovicianus  Carolina Wren (many)

Regulus calendula  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (many)

Regulus satrapa  Golden-crowned Kinglet (several)

Catharus guttatus  Hermit Thrush (at least 1)

Sialia sialis  Eastern Bluebird (several)

Turdus migratorius  American Robin (many)

Dumetella carolinensis  Gray Catbird (a few)

Northern Mockingbird in the dunes at Coquina Beach

Northern Mockingbird in the dunes at Coquina Beach

Mimus polyglottos  Northern Mockingbird (many)

Toxostoma rufum  Brown Thrasher (1)

Anthus rubescens  American Pipit (a few)

Setophaga coronata  Yellow-rumped Warbler (many)

Vermivora celata  Orange-crowned Warbler (1)

Junco hyemalis  Dark-eyed Junco (a few)

Melospiza georgiana  Swamp Sparrow (a few)

Melospiza melodia  Song Sparrow (several)

Passerculus sandwichensis  Savannah Sparrow (several)

Zonotrichia albicollis  White-throated Sparrow (at least 1 or 2)

Cardinalis cardinalis  Northern Cardinal (a few)

Passerina cyanea  Indigo Bunting (1)

Female Indigo Bunting at Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center.

Female Indigo Bunting at Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center.Female Indigo Bunting at Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center.

Boat-tailed Grackle at Nags Head

Boat-tailed Grackle at Nags Head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agelaius phoeniceus  Red-winged Blackbird (many)

Quiscalus major  Boat-tailed Grackle (many)

Sturnella magna  Eastern Meadowlark (many)

Carpodacus mexicanus  House Finch (a few)

Passer domesticus  House Sparrow (at least 2)

Mammals

Bears! How fortunate that there are still places left for American Black Bears in our world, and the Albemarle Peninsula is one of the best. They were a focus of our trip, and the group was afforded a few good looks.

Bears! How fortunate that there are still places left for American Black Bears in our world, and the Albemarle Peninsula is one of the best. They were a focus of our trip, and the group was afforded a few good looks.

A Red Wolf at Alligator River NWR was a lucky sighting!

A Red Wolf at Alligator River NWR was a lucky sighting!

Didelphis virginiana  Virginia Opossum (many DOR) *

Ursus americanus  American Black Bear (ca. 4)

Eastern Gray Squirrel at Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center in Columbia.

Eastern Gray Squirrel at Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center in Columbia.

Procyon lotor  Common Raccoon (at least 1 DOR) *

Canis rufus  Red Wolf (1)

Sciurus carolinensis  Eastern Gray Squirrel (a few)

Odocoileus virginianus  White-tailed Deer (at least 3 alive, many DOR)

Tursiops truncatus  Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin (several)

 

Totals

Fishes:  at least 1

Amphibians:  2

Reptiles:  at least 5

Birds:  at least 95

Mammals:  at least 7

Total Vertebrate Species:  at least 110

The “adventure” part of “Alligator River Adventure.”

The “adventure” part of “Alligator River Adventure.”

irders are often more easily identified than birds.

Birders are often more easily identified than birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Not all species were seen by everyone in the group, and some group members may have seen species not listed above. Some additional species were potentially glimpsed or heard but not positively identified (e.g., Spotted Turtle, Blackpoll Warbler, et al. may have been glimpsed; glimpsed road-kills may have included Gray Fox, Eastern Cottontail, et al.).]

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