Ventures runs many day trips throughout the Carolinas every year, especially in the western portion of the region. From warblers and woodpeckers in the highest peaks and spruce fir forests around Mt. Mitchell to tanagers and cuckoos in the rich lowland woodlands of the South Carolina Piedmont, we find new and exciting birding destinations throughout our area. Some places are "must visit" spots from year to year but others are new to the birding world. Join us as we explore our own backyard in the Carolinas.

 

 

 

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Open Country Birding Townville, SC

March 3, 2018

Leader: Clifton Avery

          

   Townville is located in Anderson County, in the northwestern South Carolina Piedmont. Sparrows are the top draw and we hope to see a good selection, including Lincoln's, Vesper, Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-throated, & White-crowned. American Pipits and Horned Larks are also regular here and we have seen both Great Horned and Barn Owls on past trips as well. There are usually Rusty Blackbirds around in varying numbers, and we may even get lucky with rarities that occur in this area of the state such as Brewer's Blackbird or Lapland Longspur. We also hope to find a good selection of wintering landbirds and will scan the lakes and ponds in the vicinity for waterfowl and gulls.

Early Spring Birding

Sandy Mush Gamelands Buncombe County, NC
March 27, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

          

   The habitats here vary from open, managed cut-over areas to cove and riverine forests down along the Sandy Mush River. Though it’ll be early spring, we will expect to find a nice mix of overwintering species and newly arrived spring residents. Sparrows should be in good numbers with White-throated, Song, Swamp, Field and Chipping all likely. A few coveys of Northern Bobwhite are in the fields and occasionally we get to see them. There are numerous American Kestrel nest boxes throughout the Gamelands and we should see a few of these small, beautiful falcons perched on telephone poles and wires, or hovering over the grass looking for prey. Blue-headed Vireos nest at this lower than normal elevation and we may hear their sweet songs in the woodlands, while Eastern Meadowlarks should be in full voice in the open areas. Wild Turkeys are common and Red-tailed, Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks all nest here as well.

Tryon & Polk County Explorer, NC

April 11, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

          

   We will start our day at FENCE, where we will walk the trails listening and looking for newly arrived spring/summer residents. Both Indigo Bunting and Common Yellowthroat should have already set up territories at the pond while the nearby thickets may still have a few late White-throated Sparrows. We’ll then move along River Road where Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-throated Warblers nest before climbing into lovely cove forest habitat near Saluda. Black-and-white, Worm-eating and Black-throated Green Warblers should be back by now and we should be able to see them as the leaf canopy should only be starting to emerge.

Birding The Green River Gamelands

April 18, 2018

Leader: Clifton Avery

          

   The Green River Gamelands sit on the Blue Ridge Escarpment and contain quite the variety of managed habitats, from mixed hardwood to pine forest, and early successional to floodplain forest. As such it holds a fantastic mix of both mountain and lower elevation species. We will begin higher up in the Escarpment and should see Scarlet Tanager, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green, and Black-and-White Warblers among many others before slowly working our way down in elevation. Along the Green River, Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler should be plentiful and we will check the grassy powerline cuts and early successional habitats for Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat and Prairie Warbler. Swainson’s & Kentucky Warblers can also be found in this area, often singing from territories right along the road.

Birding The Green River Gamelands II

April 22, 2018

Leader: Kevin Burke

          

   The Green River Gamelands sit on the Blue Ridge Escarpment and contain quite the variety of managed habitats, from mixed hardwood to pine forest, and early successional to floodplain forest. As such it holds a fantastic mix of both mountain and lower elevation species. We will begin higher up in the Escarpment and should see Scarlet Tanager, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green, and Black-and-White Warblers among many others before slowly working our way down in elevation. Along the Green River, Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler should be plentiful and we will check the grassy powerline cuts and early successional habitats for Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat and Prairie Warbler. Swainson’s & Kentucky Warblers can also be found in this area, often singing from territories right along the road.

Blue Ridge Birding Asheville, NC

April 25, 2018

Leader: Kevin Burke

          

   From the mixed hardwood, lower elevation forests, rich cove forest, to the high elevation spruce-fir forests around Mount Mitchell, the Blue Ridge Parkway traverses a variety of elevations and habitats. Spending time in each habitat will yield quite the variety of avian species, and as with most of our spring trips the focus will be on migrant warblers, vireos, tanagers and thrushes that breed along the parkway.

Stecoah Gap

Graham County, NC
April 30, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

          

   The neotropical migrant birds that breed in the southern Appalachian mountains arrive earlier than those going further north. They seem to overfly the Piedmont and the foothills and go straight to their mountain habitat where they set up their breeding territories. By this time in April they should be well established, singing heartily. We can expect many warbler species (including American Redstart, Black-and-white, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Cerulean & Golden-winged), Blue-headed, Yellow-throated & Red-eyed Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, American Goldfinches, and more.

Spring Warbler Workshop

Max Patch, Haywood Co., NC
May 2, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

          

   This being a Spring Warbler Workshop, our focus will be on finding as many different warbler species as possible, listening for differences in each species’ song, and marveling at the diversity of colors and patterns on show. We should find 15-20 different species, such as: Ovenbird; Lousiana Waterthrush; Common Yellowthroat; Northern Parula; American Redstart; Golden-winged, Black-and-white, Hooded, Cape May, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Pine, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated, & Canada Warblers. By the end of the day we could very well have seen 60-70 species in total!

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Knox County, TN
May 5, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson

          

   We will spend all morning and part of the afternoon exploring the birds along several miles of walking pathways through a rich mosaic of habitats.  An abundance of early successional habitat harbors high numbers of Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Field Sparrow and some Northern Bobwhite, easy to hear but not see.  Along the river bank, expect to find a wide variety of waterbirds, swallows, Orchard Oriole, Prothonotary Warblers, and Wood Duck. In the uplands, plenty of warblers should be present and this is one area where Black-billed Cuckoo has been seen in the spring.   It is possible to observe or hear 80 species in one day at this outstanding park!

Sevier County Marathon

(International Migratory Bird Day)
May 12, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson

          

   We are going to attempt to see or hear at least 125 species of birds on this day, hopefully more.  Spring migration is in full swing and some winter residents are likely to still be around.  Over 160 species have been recorded in Sevier County at this time, including 22 species of warblers, 5 vireos, 8 flycatchers, 7 woodpeckers, 10 raptors, 7 thrushes, and more sparrows, tanagers, grosbeaks, and orioles!

   We will look for Red Crossbills, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, and Common Raven.  Moving down to Sugarlands Visitors Center should be productive for warblers, vireos, and flycatchers. From there we will go to Pittman Center and search the fields and farms, then travel adjacent to the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River into Richardson’s Cove to Sevierville checking hotspots, then to the French Broad River fields to look for Dickcissel and Bobolink.

Spring Big Day

A Thorough Birding Exploration Of WNC
May 12, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

& Kevin Burke

          

   Our day will begin before sunrise with the hope of finding nocturnal species such as Great Horned, Eastern Screech and Northern Saw-whet Owl, as well as Eastern Whip-poor-will. Once the sun comes up, we plan on visiting as many different habitats as possible to maximize our species total. Between cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Green River Gamelands, we will expect a whole host of warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers and more. We’ll check the broad Mills River Valley for open country species like Eastern Meadowlark, raptors, and any shorebirds that might still be passing through. We will also visit several city lakes for any straggling ducks or wading species, as well as any spots where there are rare, uncommon or otherwise unusual birds hanging out.

Cades Cove Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Explore One of the Most Scenic & Birdy Places in the Great Smoky Mountains
May 16, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson

          

   Cades Cove is one of the most picturesque and historic landscapes in the Southern Appalachians.  Located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove boasts of splendid views of the main Smokies crest, historical cabins, and open fields and woodlots, surrounded by mature mixed hardwood/pine forests.  Habitats here provide sanctuary for a great variety of wildlife, including Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, Coyote, and over 200 species of birds annually.  In May, we are more likely to see many of the documented 140 species documented during that month in the Cove.

Alum Cave Bluff Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Hike the Alum Cave Bluff Trail to Observe High Elevation Specialties
May 19, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson

          

   This trail is one of the most productive areas in the park for high elevation summer residents and permanent residents including Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Veery, and probably one of the best areas in the park for Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Canada Warbler.  A total of 83 species have been seen here in mid-May, but we’re more likely to see fewer, but let’s target 40 for the day!  The highlight of the trip is a good opportunity to observe nesting Peregrine Falcons near Alum Cave Bluff which have been using this area for several decades.

Birding the Balsams

Asheville, NC
June 13, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

          

   We will head south and visit various locations in the Blue Ridge, looking for some of the area’s most exciting birds such as many species of warblers, vireos and several hard-to-identify Empidonax flycatchers. We will probably head as far as Heintooga Overlook, one of the most reliable areas for Red Crossbills in the last few years.
  Typical breeding birds of the higher elevations include Common Raven, Brown Creeper, Dark-eyed Junco, Winter Wren, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.  Hermit Thrush and Red Crossbill can be found as well. The Appalachian race of the hardy Northern Flying Squirrel, closely related to the more familiar Southern Flying Squirrel of lower elevation broad-leaved woodlands, also occurs at this elevation.