North Carolina county #16 Mayo River State Park
One of the downsides of going to every county in a single year is that I can’t afford to skip trips or only go to locations when they are optimal for birding. I will undoubtedly have unexpected events and responsibilities throughout the year so if I am to stay on track, I have to keep getting out there even if conditions are not great. In addition, since this is my first time visiting each of these locations, I don’t even necessarily know when it is best to go. So even more than is usual for birding, these trips can be a crapshoot.
Yesterday, I spent a full day covering two counties and from a birding perspective, this was one of those sub-optimal days. But, from another perspective – the one where my main driver for this quest is to see new places and get out into nature as much as possible – it was a success.
My first stop was in Rockingham County at Mayo River State Park.
The entrance area is large with a couple of big fields, picnic areas including some in the building you can see in the photo, and two small ponds. I could not find the trailhead initially so walked around this area for a bit before going into the office building to ask directions. There were two nice people in there who helped point me back to where I started – the trail starts right by the far parking lot where I had parked.
There is really only one trail, and it is not very long at 1.8 miles. But it is a nice, relatively easy hike through the woods. My biggest problem was the wind. There was significant wind all day and I was only able to see a few birds in some sheltered spots or during brief lulls in the almost constant blowing.
Still, the woods were nice and I can imagine it will be hopping in two months time when migrations start up.
There was one spot where I saw four Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Brown Creeper, which was pretty exciting at the time – I guess it is all relative. Now that I know what to look for, I was checking every tree hole for an Eastern Screech Owl. I recently put up a box for them in my backyard and would love to get a look at one of these guys, but I’ve had no luck yet.
Despite the small bird count, I love it when a county has a State Park or someplace that I can walk a trail.