It’s Been A Great (Red)Start So Far

The start of my birding in the Outer Banks has me already on cloud nine.

Not only did I see two Redstarts minutes apart, they were also both lifers for me.

I worked hard trying to stay with a female American Redstart foraging in the thicket.  I thought I’d lost her and was about to give up, when she popped out of the thicket and posed for me.

Welcome to my bird lifer list, #209 American Redstart!

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American Redstart (female)

Now let me back up a bit on my Redstart story. 

Since arriving to the Outer Banks, my first place to explore for birds was at Pea Island NWR on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

When I arrived and began walking the trail, I ran into a lady who asked if I was looking for the Redstart.  I said I didn’t know what she was talking about and quickly learned a Painted Redstart was spotted just hours earlier but had since disappeared.  She was hanging to see if it would come back.  All the ‘other birders’ had given up and left. 

What was the buzz with this bird?  A bird that breeds in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, before migrating to Mexico and Central America for the winter, the Painted Redstart would be an extremely rare sighting for North Carolina.  The sighting of this lone fella had just made his species become bird #400 for the state! 

Okay, so I quickly became game. 😊  I hung that area a bit, photographing other birds.  After no sighting, I took off alone to seek more birds.  I returned a half hour later, and the lady and three others were still looking and waiting, but no Painted Redstart. 

It was then that I saw the American Redstart above.  That in itself had me really excited with the new lifer. I had to laugh, the others didn’t seem so excited.  But that was okay.

Minutes later walking a little further around the thickets as the others were, I saw a flash of red land on a branch.  Lens on the bird to enlarge, and there he was.  I shouted (I hope not too loud lol), “There he is!  There he is!”  

And so began an awesome 30-minute photo session of the Painted Redstart as he foraged for bugs, even flying within three feet of us.  We were indeed five birders giddy over the show!

Welcome to my bird lifer list, #210 Painted Redstart!

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Painted Redstart (male)

I can’t help but share four more shots. 

Painted Redstart (male)

What a cool, cool couple hours at Pea Island NWR. 

And you can be sure, there are more birds to come…..  😊 

55 thoughts on “It’s Been A Great (Red)Start So Far

  1. Congratulations! I know that male and female birds often look different with the male usually being more colorful, but I was surprised by how much different these two are and how colorful (in a different way) the female is.

    • Thank you very much, Sandra! It was! From there we went to sit on the beach and watched the waves roll in. Birding and toes in the sand on the same day made it pretty awesome!

  2. That’s awesome – especially as you were the first to spot the Painted Redstart! (I’m still wondering though why the American redstart is yellow… πŸ€”) And I gather it’s your birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you! πŸŽ‚πŸŽˆπŸΎπŸ₯‚

    • Thank you very much, Mike! It had been seen many hours before but at that time, I was the first to see it! I felt pretty proud of myself, lol. The other four people were pro-birders. πŸ™‚ And yes, another year here on this earth, Amen!

    • Thanks so much, Hans! It’s been very exciting since arriving here. The NWR is on the bay side of the barrier islands with lots of ponds and wetlands to explore. I’ll keep on keeping on! 😊

  3. I am sitting here laughing and clapping because I am so happy for you. I saw my first Redstart here in Edmonton during migration a couple of years ago. The female was shy and the photo was yuck! but got a few of the male.

  4. had no idea what area you were talking about, so looked up Cape Hatteras-ohhh outer banks of South Carolina. Hope it is not too crowded with people wanting to get away from it all. i know you are going to have fun!

    • Thank you, I had never been able to capture the American Redstart that did live in my home area, but the Painted Redstart, I’d probably never get the chance to capture that one. I feel lucky!!

  5. Congratulations! and I’m so excited for you! That 1st shot of the male is utter perfection! Way to go!!! Doing a happy dance here.

    • Thank you so much, Gunta! No lie, when the Painted Redstart finally slipped out of our sights, I told the other four birders, “Time for a happy dance!” And I proceeded to do one. πŸ˜ƒ They all laughed a good one! πŸ˜… πŸ˜‚ 🀣

  6. Oh boy did I ever enjoy this redstart adventure, Donna. You did a good job describing the excitement of a bird adventure, and the well-rewarded tenacity; and your photos were a great treat. I clearly remember my first redstarts, both the female and the male. Great post.

    • Thank you very much, Jet! I felt like I was in the zone with the Painted Redstart! He was such an entertainer, we were all amazed at the show we five were so lucky to witness. I just replied to Gunta’s comment, that at the end of the shooting, I told the other four it was time for a happy dance, and I proceeded to do one on the path! 😊

  7. Well done Donna ! What an exciting find two lifers of similar species, I can feel the excitement when I read your narrative. It has been a while (since Covid) that we have seen a lifer. The Painted Redstart reminds me a little of of our Scarlet Robin. We are so glad you are finally on your way again, a real answer to prayer, after asking that the repairs would finally be fast tracked after such a long wait for you both. You are living the birder’s dream πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much, Ashley, it was certainly a rewarding gift! I was most thankful to him, and to our Lord who answered my prayer to get a chance to see the Painted Redstart. The long photo session was so much more than I could have asked for! He put on such an entertaining show, there were times I just stood there and watched him go. I think he enjoyed performing for us too! Thank you for your prayers, we’ve been able to move past those long months and are hoping to see parts of our country we’ve dreamed. Birds in the mix makes it twice as nice! πŸ˜‰

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