North Carolina county #4 Cane Creek Park
I had some time this morning so I went down to Cane Creek Park to knock my home county off the list. I have been to Cane Creek Park a lot because it is only 30 minutes from me and is very rural and woodsy. I have seen a few uncommon birds in the lake there in the past, such as Horned Grebes and a Common Loon, so you never know what you might get.
Cane Creek Park is dominated by a large lake in the middle of the Park, and there are campsites, kayaks and paddle boats for rent, and pretty good fishing. Occasionally there are gas-powered boats there. There is a small fee for entry most of the year, but I have found that it is close to empty most of the winter, and that is also when it is free.
There are trails all around the lake, and many of them are open to horseback riders as well. In fact, for a little bit of the walk, I was clearly following in the path of one. Today, I started at the main entrance, walked down to the lake, and followed the path to the left for a couple of miles. This place always seems to be a Double-crested Cormorant hang-out, and today was no exception.
I got to see a juvenile Bald Eagle fly over the lake, which is always exciting. Everyone loves eagles. I am pretty sure I saw one in the same place last year, but I was so new to birding I didn’t trust my identification and never logged it. The juveniles don’t look as obvious as the adults.
The highlight of the trip though was getting to see a Merlin in the woods. I sat there looking at the bird through my binoculars, puzzled as to what it was at first. Then it flew and I knew. I have only seen one other before but I have been studying hawk books lately, and with the dark color on top, the size and shape, there was nothing else that could fit. I actually got a pretty good look but was too slow with my camera for a photo. Instead I will post a photo of another bird everyone likes to see, a Great Blue Heron.