North Carolina county #42 Blue Ridge Parkway
On Saturday, I went birding with the Carolina Bird Club again, but this time my whole family was with me. This is great fun as the kids bring excitement about seeing the birds and it is just a fun day in nature even without the birds. The group I was with was perfect actually. We had a former President of the club, who had been birding for 65 years – he spent a good amount of time with my son and it was great to see the different generations together. We also had the soon to be new President of the club (elected later that night) – and she was excellent in getting us on a lot of birds and explaining the different songs and habits of the birds. Best of all, there was another family of four with two young girls. When my daughter got bored looking at the birds she chased butterflies and wildflowers with the other kids.
This was a full day trip, and we started out early at 6am. The trip was to cover a bunch of overlooks and areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We zigzagged across the Alleghany and Wilkes County borders a bit, but I will still try to break it into two posts in keeping with the rules of the blog.
Our first stop was near a small pond and area to walk all around it. The older girl from the other family spotted a Black-and-white Warbler in the distance, and we got a quick 10 species to start our day. That girl turned out to be an excellent birder and got a scholarship to go to a birding camp later in the evening.
We then moved on to an overlook where there were several warblers, including Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Parula, Hooded Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and an Ovenbird. This was my first Ovenbird of the year. We also got some looks at a couple of Scarlet Tanagers.
The nice thing about this spot is that there were views in every direction. One of our guides told us it was an excellent spot to watch hawk migrations, and on the best days in the fall, you could see up to 6,000 birds in a single day.
This was my favorite stop in Alleghany County. We were very high up and soaring birds were at eye-level. A Broad-winged Hawk flew right by us, and I got excellent views of a Common Raven. There were even two Bald Eagles soaring in the distance.
I could barely make out a chimney near the tree in the middle of that view with my binoculars. Apparently a hundred years ago a small isolated community started up down there, but was abruptly ended after a massive mudslide wiped out all the houses.
In any case, this was a great start to our day. I will wind it up in the next post.