Trip Report for
Tryon & Polk County Explorer
April 9, 2014
We met at 8 AM on this early spring day at FENCE (Foothills Equestrian Nature Center) down in Tryon, NC. We began the day with a walk down to the pond, hearing most of the typical woodland and edge species along the way – Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren and American Goldfinch among others. From the boardwalk we watched a Belted Kingfisher while an Eastern Phoebe sang incessantly. We flushed a small group of Wood Duck but luckily they landed out in good light on the pond, enabling excellent scope views. Continuing around the pond we were met with droves of newly arrived Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, soon to be departing. A few of us managed to glimpse an Osprey as it glided overhead, heading north. A few minutes later, we found our first spring warbler of the day, a male Black-and-White warbler singing his squeaky song.
Back up at the main building we had wonderful scope views of a cooperative Yellow-throated Vireo as it casually foraged for insects. We also had 2 very nice surprises here – a flyover Merlin and a Vesper Sparrow.
Before stopping for lunch we headed down over the state line to Caroland Farms in South Carolina. Here we got good looks at a few Savannah Sparrows in the open pastureland, as well as Eastern Meadowlark and Brown-headed Cowbird. Down by the Pacolet River, a selection of swallows (Tree, Barn, Northern Rough-winged and Purple Martin) streamed by overhead, with a few Chimney Swifts mixed in. In the thickets along the banks of the Pacolet we enjoyed seeing a Common Yellowthroat fly-catching, while a White-eyed Vireo skulked and remained singing mostly out of sight.
After lunch we drove along River Road. In one stop we had great looks at Yellow-throated Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flashing his bright red crown. Another treat was watching a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks – one sat on the nest while another soared through the tops of the surrounding trees, vocalizing. We continued along River Road, eventually making our way up to Warrior Mountain, part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It was mostly quiet up here in the afternoon, but we all got excellent views of a singing Black-throated Green Warbler, a great finish to a fantastic day of birding.