“HPAS gathered its largest group ever for a field trip to Lonesome Valley on the 12th of May. The morning was perfect for birding – overcast, calm winds, plus the expertise of Audubon NC IBA and Mountain Program Director, Curtis Smalling. With 39 eager participants, Curtis worked his usual magic in showing people great birds while educating them about their life histories, habits and migration. Kyle Purcel, from HCLT also gave a short talk about the conservation easements in and around Lonesome Valley. The total number of species seen and heard was 44, not bad for only 3 ½ hrs.! Highlights were the mob of Cedar Waxwings in the blooming Poplars, a very cooperative male Blackburnian Warbler with his mate, and numerous Tree Swallows zooming right over our heads. The proliferation and variety of birds at Lonesome Valley is truly a treasure, with the extensive patch of native trees and plants providing the caterpillars, bugs and nesting sites that are so vital to our breeding birds, both year-rounders and migrants.”
It was really a dark and stormy night… but with fingers crossed, 19 intrepid birders ventured out in the still gloomy morning on May 8th. And the gamble paid off!! The Southern Highlands Reserve proved to be a fascinating, educational and beautiful place for all, and with birds too! Highlights were our guided walk with the SHR staff, investigating the many native wildflowers in bloom, as well as many Indigo Buntings, one stunning Scarlet Tanager, several Chestnut-sided Warblers, and a brown water snake too. The views were spectacular, the hospitality was super, and Ann Campbell spoiled us all by supplementing picnic lunches with lots of goodies. It didn't rain a drop until we left at 1PM!
Photo by Jeanne Tyrer
Photo by Jeanne Tyrer
By Avary Doubleday
Highlands Plateau Audubon Society teamed up with the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust for a special "eco-tour" along a scenic portion of the Bartram Trail, near Jones Gap and the nearby Fish Hawk Mountains, and included additional stops along Turtle Pond Road to investigate contrasting ecologies. As predicted, among the 43 species of birds seen were Indigo Buntings, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers, and Red-tailed Hawks - and Black and White Warblers and Ruffed Grouse were heard.
Russ Regnery, President of the HPAS, led the trip, joined by two accomplished birding "pros," Cheryl and Panos Kanes from Georgia. In addition HCLT's Gary Wein and Kyle Pursel added interesting information about the botany and herpetology of the areas.
Eco-Tour - May 19, 2012
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Photo by Gary Doubleday
By Avary Doubleday
Flat Mt. Road field trip, Sat., 27 July
With 16 in the group, we started out in the parking lot of the old Ranger Station on Flat Mt. Road. And we stayed there
for almost an hour, as we encountered a busy, mixed flock right off the bat! Excellent views of Yellow-throated Warbler,
Gray Catbird and Black-throated Green Warbler were highlights. Eventually we moved on into the canopied trail just at
the end of the parking lot, where Michelle spotted a stunning Scarlet Tanager, which everyone enjoyed, even though it
induced several cases of "tanager neck". The field which was once quite open is now densely grown up with a nice selection
of young trees, though this makes observation more difficult. An obliging Brown Thrasher popped out to give some great
looks, as well as a Chestnut-sided Warbler, either in transitional plumage or a young male (dull, greenish-yellow cap). A
Blue-headed Vireo was also seen in similarly less than prime plumage. Black and White Warblers were present in some
numbers, and a N. Parula and Indigo Bunting were glimpsed. We also made aquick pass at the Forest Service test plot,
where we failed to find any Field Sparrows but did scare up a Chipping Sparrow, as well as a nice maleHooded Warbler
on the entry road. A Ruby-throated Hummer was hanging around the Jewel Weed in the field, and a N. Flicker zoomed by,
while an Eastern Phoebe put in a brief appearance. Activity was well down by 10, so we finished up around 10:30, having seen
and/or heard 30 species. Thanks to all who joined us for making this such a fun and productive morning!