I have been birding around Mecklenburg County for close to 40 years now, so opportunities to add species to my personal Mecklenburg County list do not occur very often.
An addition to the list nowadays would have to involve a true rarity, something far from its regular range or an especially elusive and secretive species. In 2011, I was able to add two species, none in 2010 and one in 2009.
So it is exciting when I hear of a potential addition being sighted. Such excitement arose Sept. 6 when I was sent a photograph of a brown pelican by Ron Pfeffer from Lake Norman. I called a local birder who lives on the lake and he was able to confirm the pelican was still present on channel marker T4 just west of Interstate 77.
There have been a handful of brown pelican reports from Lake Norman and Lake Wylie over the years that have gone unconfirmed by the local birding community, though surely the birds were correctly identified. Pelicans present few identification challenges.
It was still dark when I arrived before sunrise at my strategic viewing spot off Exit 30 in Davidson. I was hoping that the pelican had chosen that marker as its night roost and would be viewable at dawn before it resumed its wanderings.
As dawn slowly broke, I finally was able to make out the silhouette of the marker way out in the lake. With binoculars it looked as if there might be something on top of it, but it was still too dark to tell. A quick trip back to the car to retrieve my spotting scope allowed more light to appear and give confirmation the brown pelican was still there!
As I watched it, my Mecklenburg County bird No. 277 jumped off the marker, flew east over the interstate and disappeared over Lake Davidson, headed, I assumed, for waters to the east.
Wrong! Later that day I got word the bird was back on the same marker and sightings were still being reported as of Sept. 11. It will be interesting to see how long it stays with us.