Wake Audubon Blog

Alligator River Adventure!

i Nov 30th No Comments by

Authored by Jeff Beane

On Friday-Sunday, 13-15 November, Wake Audubon held its Alligator River Adventure trip, a joint field trip between and Wake Audubon and the Museum of Natural Sciences, usually offered every two to three years. Trip leaders were Jerry Reynolds and Jeff Beane. Also participating were Herb Amyx, Pat Amyx, Betty Lou Chaika, David Chaika, Dan Harvey, Sue Harvey, Cindy Lincoln, Mary Martorella, Ann McCormick, Betsy McCormick, Betty Ann O’Brien, Adair Pickard, Louise Romanow, Mary Ann Rood, and Bill Swallow.

Birders on the Alligator River field trip

Birders on the Alligator River field trip

Our itinerary included 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.

We left from the Museum’s Research Lab at 10 a.m. Friday morning, and returned at about 6 p.m. Sunday evening. We had good weather—sunny to partly cloudy and somewhat unseasonably warm. We identified 107 vertebrate species, including at least 83 birds, nine mammals, seven reptiles, five amphibians, and three fishes. A few other species were glimpsed but not positively identified. Highlights included good looks at several black bears, at least a dozen species each of waterfowl and shorebirds, good looks at American white pelicans and bald eagles, a few late-season reptiles basking, and a fresh road-killed mink. Bill glimpsed a short-eared owl, but he was the only one to see it. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Nags Head, where some of us could see many species from out our motel room windows, and we enjoyed picnic and fast food lunches and fine dinner dining at Basnight’s Lone Cedar and La Fogata Mexican restaurants. Good times were had by all.

American Oystercatcher at Oregon Inlet

American Oystercatcher at Oregon Inlet

 

 

Dunlin at Oregon Inlet

Dunlin at Oregon Inlet

 

Sanderlings on the beach at Pea Island NWR

Sanderlings on the beach at Pea Island NWR

Savannah Sparrow at Pea Island NWR

Savannah Sparrow at Pea Island NWR

A Red-tailed Hawk at Alligator River sizes up the Museum bus: Nope; a little too large to handle as prey.

A Red-tailed Hawk at Alligator River sizes up the Museum bus: Nope; a little too large to handle as prey.

Boat-tailed Grackle at the Nags Head Comfort Inn

Boat-tailed Grackle at the Nags Head Comfort Inn

Bears! How fortunate that there are still places left for them in our world, and the Albemarle Peninsula is one such place. The group was afforded good looks at several on this trip.

Bears! How fortunate that there are still places left for them in our world, and the Albemarle Peninsula is one such place. The group was afforded good looks at several on this trip.

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

Black-bellied Plover on beach at Pea Island NWR

Black-bellied Plover on beach at Pea Island NWR

Ruddy Turnstone on beach at Pea Island NWR

Ruddy Turnstone on beach at Pea Island NWR

Willet on beach at Nags Head

Willet on beach at Nags Head

Forster's Tern on beach at Nags Head

Forster’s Tern on beach at Nags Head

 

Green Treefrog finds refuge in a PVC pipe at Nags Head Woods

Green Treefrog finds refuge in a PVC pipe at Nags Head Woods

The weather was warm enough for this Banded Water Snake and Red-bellied Water Snake to seek some late-season sun along the Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center boardwalk.

The weather was warm enough for this Banded Water Snake and Red-bellied Water Snake to seek some late-season sun along the Pocosin Lakes Visitor Center boardwalk.

Vertebrate Species Observed

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

Not all species were seen by all members of the group; some may have been seen by only one or two people.

 

Fishes

Strongylura marina  Atlantic Needlefish (at least 2)

Cyprinodon variegatus  Sheepshead Minnow (many)

Gambusia holbrooki  Eastern Mosquitofish (many)

Amphibians

Ambystoma opacum  Marbled Salamander (4 adults)

Bufo [Anaxyrus] [cf. americanus x terrestris] “American/Southern Toad” (1 adult female)

Acris gryllus  Southern Cricket Frog (at least 2)

Hyla cinerea  Green Treefrog (a few)

Rana catesbeiana [Lithobates catesbeianus]  American Bullfrog (at least 2 or 3)

Reptiles

Chrysemys p. picta  Eastern Painted Turtle (several)

Clemmys guttata  Spotted Turtle (at least 1)

Pseudemys rubriventris  Red-bellied Cooter (many)

Trachemys s. scripta  Yellow-bellied Slider (many)

Nerodia erythrogaster  Red-bellied Water Snake (1 adult)

Nerodia fasciata  Banded Water Snake (1 adult)

Thamnophis s. sauritus  Eastern Ribbon Snake (1 small adult male DOR) *

 Birds

Aix sponsa  Wood Duck (at least 7)

Anas acuta  Northern Pintail (several)

Anas americana  American Widgeon (many)

Anas clypeata  Northern Shoveler (many)

Anas crecca  Green-winged Teal (many)

Anas discors  Blue-winged Teal (at least 1)

Anas platyrhynchos  Mallard (many)

Anas rubripes  American Black Duck (many)

Anas strepera  Gadwall (many)

Branta canadensis  Canada Goose (many)

Cygnus columbianus  Tundra Swan (many)

Lophodytes cucullatus  Hooded Merganser (a few)

Oxyura jamaicensis  Ruddy Duck (many)

Colinus virginianus  Northern Bobwhite (at least 6-7)

Meleagris gallopavo  Wild Turkey (at least 27)

Podilymbus podiceps  Pied-billed Grebe (many)

Morus bassanus  Northern Gannet (many)

Phalacrocorax auritus  Double-crested Cormorant (many)

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos  American White Pelican (many)

Pelecanus occidentalis  Brown Pelican (many)

Ardea alba  Great Egret (many)

Ardea herodias  Great Blue Heron (many)

Egretta thula  Snowy Egret (a few)

Egretta tricolor  Tricolored Heron (a few)

Eudocimus albus  White Ibis (many)

Cathartes aura  Turkey Vulture (many)

Coragyps atratus  Black Vulture (several)

Accipiter cooperii  Cooper’s Hawk (at least 1 or 2)

Accipiter striatus  Sharp-shinned Hawk ( at least 2 or 3)

Buteo jamaicensis  Red-tailed Hawk (many)

Circus cyaneus  Northern Harrier (many)

Haliaeetus leucocephalus  Bald Eagle (several)

Falco sparverius  American Kestrel (many)

Fulica americana  American Coot (at least 1)

Rallus limicola  Virginia Rail (several heard; at least 2 seen)

Charadrius semipalmatus  Semipalmated Plover (at least 1)

Charadrius vociferus  Killdeer (many)

Pluvialis squatarola  Black-bellied Plover (many)

Haematopus palliatus  American Oystercatcher (at least 2)

Recurvirostra americana  American Avocet (many)

Arenaria interpres  Ruddy Turnstone (several)

Calidris alba  Sanderling (many)

Calidris alpina  Dunlin (many)

Calidris canutus  Red Knot (1)

Tringa flavipes  Lesser Yellowlegs (many)

Tringa melanoleuca  Greater Yellowlegs (many)

Tringa semipalmata  Willet (many)

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)

Sterna forsteri  Forster’s Tern (many)

Thalasseus maximus  Royal Tern (several)

Columba livia  Rock Pigeon (many)

Zenaida macroura  Mourning Dove (many)

Asio flammeus  Short-eared Owl (1)

Megaceryle alcyon  Belted Kingfisher (at least 2)

Colaptes auratus  Northern Flicker (several)

Melanerpes carolinus  Red-bellied Woodpecker (several)

Sayornis phoebe  Eastern Phoebe (a few)

Corvus brachyrhynchos  American Crow (many)

Corvus ossifragus  Fish Crow (at least 1)

Cyanocitta cristata  Blue Jay (at least 2)

Tachycineta bicolor  Tree Swallow (many)

Poecile carolinensis  Carolina Chickadee (several)

Cistothorus palustris  Marsh Wren (at least 1)

Thryothorus ludovicianus  Carolina Wren (several)

Troglodytes aedon  House Wren (at least 1)

Turdus migratorius  American Robin (several)

Dumetella carolinensis  Gray Catbird (a few)

Mimus polyglottos  Northern Mockingbird (many)

Sturnus vulgaris  European Starling (many)

Bombycilla cedrorum  Cedar Waxwing (several)

Setophaga coronata  Yellow-rumped Warbler (many)

Melospiza melodia  Song Sparrow (a few)

Passerculus sandwichensis  Savannah Sparrow (many)

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

Cardinalis cardinalis  Northern Cardinal (a few)

Agelaius phoeniceus  Red-winged Blackbird (many)

Quiscalus major  Boat-tailed Grackle (many)

Sturnella magna  Eastern Meadowlark (many)

Carpodacus mexicanus  House Finch (a few)

Mammals

Didelphis virginiana  Virginia Opossum (many DOR en route) *

Ursus americanus  American Black Bear (at least 6-7)

Procyon lotor  Common Raccoon (several DOR) *

Mephitis mephitis  Striped Skunk (1 adult DOR en route) *

Neovison [Mustela] vison  Mink (1 adult female DOR) *

Urocyon cinereoargenteus  Gray Fox (at least 1 or 2 DOR en route) *

Sciurus carolinensis  Eastern Gray Squirrel (several alive and DOR)

Odocoileus virginianus  White-tailed Deer (many alive and DOR, mostly en route)

Megaptera novaeangliae  Humpback Whale (remains of 1 dead on beach) *

 

Totals

Fishes:  at least 3

Amphibians:  at least 5

Reptiles:  7

Birds:  at least 83

Mammals:  at least 9

Total Vertebrate Species:  at least 107

[Some additional species—mostly birds and fishes—were potentially glimpsed or heard but not positively identified.]

 

 

 

 

–Jeff Beane

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