North Carolina county #7

Calloway Forest Preserve

On ebird, I found this hotspot with 4 checklists for it – Calloway Forest Preserve.  It seemed to be my best option for Hoke County, so I stopped by for a visit.

This trip was immediately after I went to Butler Nature Preserve in Cumberland County, so it was already close to midday, and it was a record-breaking warm day for January 18th.  On the way out, my car said 77°, and it was quite sunny while I was there.

Calloway Forest Preserve is a rather large (>3000 acres) area with a good chunk of it open for hunting during the season.  It is pretty much all sandy soil, pines and grasses like you can see in the photo above.  When I was there, I saw a few people with horses unloading, and I also was following in the path of one for most of my walk, which was somewhat comforting since I at least felt I wasn’t lost in that giant place alone.  It didn’t help that I missed the normal hiking trail.  I didn’t see the map until I was on the way out, and the signpost at the T-junction near the entrance didn’t help.

I guess it had an arrow on it at some point.

This place was very promising.  I thought there was a chance for Bachman’s Sparrow or Red-cockaded woodpecker, both of which I have not seen yet.  Unfortunately, sometimes the birds are just not out.  Despite walking for close to two and a half hours, I saw a grand total of 7 species.  It was not the easiest walking either.  There were some hills, and the sandy soil was muddy in places.  But I did enjoy the walk, and despite the lower bird count, I preferred it to my visit of Butler Nature Preserve earlier in the morning.  I did have a group of Brown-headed Nuthatches squeaking at me, and I was glad for the company.  I managed to get a quick snapshot of this busy fellow.

Brown-headed Nuthatch

More interesting than the birds were these large grasshoppers that would pop up and fly onto a tree when I walked by.  I’ve never seen them before.  When I got home I was able to identify them as American Bird Grasshoppers.

American Bird Grasshopper

So, that’s it for Hoke County.  I have a big trip coming up next week with the Carolina Bird Club, which is having a meeting at the Outer Banks.  I’ve never birded there and it is supposed to be a fantastic location, so I am excited.  I will be covering as many counties as possible while I am in the area, due to its distance from me.  By staying a couple of extra days I should be able to do 7 counties, which would put me ahead of schedule.  I may be able to do one county before I leave, we will see…

ebird checklist

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