|Pair of Snow Buntings|
On the way out we saw a good selection of bay ducks: Scoters, Buffleheads, Loons. At the end of the beach the city has recently built up the dunes with a handful of small jetties and lots of grasses. This is to help reduce flooding of the Back River and hopefully helps protect our house. The target birds had been seen flying around the grasses and rocks. At the first cove we found at least 25 Savannah Sparrows. The most I have ever seen (probably in total; definitely at once). As we are scoping them for good views we see the white and black flashes of the Snow Buntings over the dune. We had heard from a photographer that we passed on the way in that they keep flying around and landing every couple of minutes. We made out way around to the next cover and through a pass in the dunes to where there were several hundred shore birds on the flats. And then the flash of white and black again. This time landing close to us allowing for some nice views. As they moved around we could see that two were slightly smaller and darker. And when the flock landed, they often landed off to the side. But often hidden behind grasses from out vantage point. After some patience and luck we could clearly see they were they two Lapland Longspurs. The longspurs were a life-bird for my wife and I while the Snow Buntings were a lifer for my uncle.
We arrived early Friday morning to the designated meeting spot, the maintenance shed at Pea Island, to howling winds and heavy waves. As we huddled in the leeward side of the building several people were on their phones. Finally the trip leader came over and said they were likely going to close the Oregon Inlet bridge due to flooding before our trip was scheduled to end. That would trap everyone on Pea Island. That wasn't a big deal for us since the rental was just a couple miles south and we didn't have to cross the bridge. But everyone else was staying north of the bridge. So they decided to move the trip to the north side of the inlet to Bodie Island. We obviously didn't want to be trapped up there so we stayed behind. The leader said it would be fine for us to walk around the south pond.
So off we headed into the cold November wind. I'm not sure we headed around the right direction and we weren't seeing many birds. So after an hour and a half or so we decided to call it quits and go get something warm to drink at the house.
But as we approached the road we could see waves topping over the dunes and the water collecting at the base of the driveway down from the parking lot. The waves were coming every several seconds and there was a steady stream of water running down the back side; our side. It was clear that we had only minutes, not even tens of minutes, before the road at the bottom of the driveway would be flooded and trap us. So Sharon called out over the deafening wind "throw everything in the back seat and drive!" We would put stuff away once back at the house. So up we ran towards our car. As we could start seeing the parking lot we could see that it was good that we were among the late-comers as the side where everyone had parked was now under water and there were only a few dry spots.
|Snow Buntings in Flight|
The following year another big storm came through and finally tore an inlet through the island right where that shed and parking lot stood.