Updated: Apr 20, 2021
This year, I'm thankful for sparrows and squirrels. Although these might seem like the least-interesting birds and mammals to all but dedicated birders and naturalists, they aren't! Well, as least some of them aren't.
As part of a Thanksgiving visit to my wife's family in Charlotte, we headed to their family farm property in Van Wyck, SC for some exploring. On the way, we made a quick detour to a not-quite-finished residential/commercial development embodying Charlotte sprawl. Why? To find a sparrow—specifically, a LeConte's Sparrow—in an overgrown field, of course. Unlike many chases, this one was successful, and took very little effort. A couple other birders pointed out the bird the moment I arrived, and I got great looks at Lifer #428 (NC Bird #315) before getting back on the road.
I spent some time birding the farm property, which was decent considering the season. The best bird was probably a Ring-Necked Duck that landed in one of the riverside impoundments. But the real treat came on the way out, when we spotted—you guessed it—a squirrel crossing the gravel road near some relatively mature treefarm. This wasn't your average Eastern Gray Squirrel, but instead a black-morph Fox Squirrel! They're much bigger (up to double the weight), cooler looking (this one was mostly black), and rarer (this was only the second I've seen on the east coast).
Two pretty sweet nature treats for an otherwise family-oriented trip!