Blue Ridge Parkway South
June 4th, 2014
We began our morning meeting at the Folk Art Center discovering a little about our group and had several brand new birders join us and other new folks to the area! Our Wednesday Venture was a gorgeous day but at elevation it was full leaf-out so we did more hearing than seeing. In honor of that, I will help refresh your memories with the fun mnemonics of birding but you will need to jog your memories of my weird dances and gestures that went along with each song!! But for fun, I found this sweet cartoon for ya’ll…
French Broad Overlook – We started off with a good number of usual suspects for the mountains at lower elevations including a Northern Cardinal singing “Birdie, birdie, birdie…”, a Carolina Wren not seen but clearly heard singing its incessant song, “Teakettle, teakettle, teakettle…”, a wheezy Blue-gray Gnatcatcher singing and feeding at the tops of the trees, American Crows cawing, an American Goldfinch flew over with, “Potato-Chip, Potato-Chip, Dip-Dip”, an Indigo Bunting singing their paired notes, “Veer-Veer,Where-Where, Here-Here, Dear-Dear”, and one unidentified raptor that I only saw fly over and behind the mountains in the corner of my eye.
Walnut Cove Overlook – Our first Eastern Towhee reminding us to “Drink your Tea!”, a Black-throated Green Warbler buzzing, “Zee-zee-zee-zee-zo-zee” and their alternate slower song, “Trees, trees, murmuring trees”, a Red-bellied Woodpecker with its harsh, rich “Querr” notes, an Eastern Wood Pewee (a flycatcher) speaking in third bird, “pee-uh-weee”, a Black and White Warbler with its squeaky wheel song, a Red-eyed Vireo with its phrase-like song, “Here I am…In the Tree…Look Up…Vireo”, and a Scarlet Tanager with a similar song to the Vireo or a Robin but is more hoarse (their call note of “Chick-burr” helps firm up the ID)! Other usual suspects: Indigo Bunting and American Goldfinches feeding up the hill on thistles.
Sleepy Gap Overlook – Our first Hooded Warbler was heard, another common warbler here in the mountains, “Wheet-tee, wheet-tee, Wheat-tee-O”, an Eastern Towhee, a Tufted Titmice singing incessantly about his buddy, “Peter, peter, peter, peter”, Chimney Swifts chattering overhead, a Black and White Warbler, an Ovenbird singing their escalating song, “teacher, Teacher, TEacher, TEAcher, TEACher, TEACHer, TEACHEr, TEACHER!” and a not so uncommon American Crow.
INTERMISSION on BIRDS – Box Turtle seen crossing the parkway, and of course the herpetologist in me HAD to stop and do a quick show-n-tell to at least 1 car before moving it across the road in the direction it was heading…One Turtle SAVED!!
Chestnut Cove Overlook – Cedar Waxwings in their typical small flocks making very high-pitched “zee-zee-zee” notes, a Worm-eating Warbler was finally heard singing its insect-like trill, and a Pileated Woodpecker heard with its echoing drumming down in the valley. Other usual suspects: Hooded Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird,and an American Crow.
Bad Fork Valley – Provided us an overview: Black-throated Green Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Ovenbird!
Wash Creek Valley Overlook – Served as a good brief overview of the more common species: Red-eyed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Cedar Waxwings.
Beaver Dam Gap Overlook – More overview: Indigo Bunting (now you can see why this is the “poster child” bird for the Blue Ridge Parkway) and an Eastern Towhee (one of the most common species heard at elevation in the shrubs).
Stoney Bald Overlook – *BEST STOP on the BRP* – Heard and saw our 1st Blackburnian Warbler flyover the road, which was first observed in the tall tree on the south end of the parking area, where I had observed the species in the same tree the year before! Blackburnians can be identified by their rising high, thin notes, sometime similar to a Black-and-White Warbler, but the last note sounds like it is being squeezed out of it! Heard our first White-breasted Nuthatch, series of single-pitched notes, “wheh-wheh-wheh-wheh!” Other usual suspects: Indigo Bunting, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Tufted Titmouse, Scarlet Tanager, and Black-throated Green Warbler.
Hominy Valley Overlook – ANOTHER GREAT STOP – 1st Chestnut-sided Warbler singing its “Please, please, please to Meet-CHA!” A good look at another Blackburnian Warbler and our first Wood Thrush heard with its flute-like, ethereal song, “eee-oh-lay”! Other usual suspects: Ovenbird and Indigo Bunting.
LUNCH STOP@Pisgah Picnic Area – Saw our 1st Brown Thrasher while heading to and from the picnic area. Of course we birded a little before our tummies growled! Heard lots of Dark-eyed Juncos! Saw and heard more Indigo Buntings and Cedar Waxwings. While walking off her lunch, Cathy got a nice photo of a Red-eyed Vireo. And then the big decision…to stay on the Parkway or head down to Pink Beds?
Pink Beds – We had about an hour and some of the group retired for the day while others still had the birding bug, so I took some of the beginner birders and strolled down less than a mile along the Pink Bed Loops Trail while the more experienced birders went straight to the boardwalk over the wetland. Before leaving the parking lot we heard the infamous “Feee-Bee, Feee-Bee…de-DE-de” of the Eastern Phoebe near the bathrooms and saw American Crows hanging out waiting for a free hand-out in the picnic area. Upon entering the woods along the trail, we crossed the first streambed and heard our first Northern Parula aka the “Zipper bird” but unfortunately could not spot it at the top of the trees amidst the dense canopy. We also heard our first Acadian Flycatcher, “Peeet-ZAA!” Then we heard an Ovenbird and worked him into a frenzy attempting to get a good look at him but we could not get him to stay still. So despite the Ovenbird trying to drown out all other birds, we got to hear our first buzzy Black-throated Blue Warbler, “I’m so laa-zEEEE!” or “Zoo-zoo-zoo-ZEEEEEEEE!”
Thanks again and look forward to guiding you on another ad-VENTURE soon!!!