Graham County, NC - Snowbird Lodge, Stecoah Gap, Cherohala Skyway, Lake Santeetlah, Talullah Wetlands and other great birding locations in N.C.
April 28 – May 4, 2012
We all look forward to our annual visit to Snowbird Lodge and other great birding locations around Graham County and this year was no exception. Despite the fact that it was surprisingly warm/hot this year the birding was still excellent. I must admit that it was a lot more challenging with the thick green leaf cover and we had to find the vast majority of birds by voice. Thankfully the loud songs of Ovenbirds rang clear through the forest and we could locate them on their singing perches.
Our regular "picnic-table" Kentucky Warbler was back again and soon joined by another below the lodge. We finished the week with 29 warblers (30 next year?) including Nashville, Golden-wing, Blue-wing, Tennessee, Magnolia and several Cape May and Blackpolls en route to Canada and points north. A stunning male Bay-breasted Warbler was also at the lodge, but alas, only seen by one observer (!). Stecoah Gap was as warbler-infested as normal, but the Cherohala Skyway seemed a little quiet. Probably because the weather was unseasonably warm and the birds were still en route to their high elevation breeding grounds. Even the Canada Warblers were loath to come out into the open to be seen. Tallulah Wetlands did have a good number of Yellow-breasted Chats singing away and some very obliging Yellow-throated Vireos. Several Golden-winged Warblers were buzzing around the wetland but they never showed themselves particularly well.
Several species seem to have moved a little higher into the mountains this year. This may be a coincidence, but it's certainly something to watch over the next few years. Red-bellied Woodpeckers, normally uncommon around Snowbird Lodge and Stecoah Gap, were common this year and Wood Thrush were singing at Wright Cove on the Cherohala Skyway at over 4000'. Also the Least Flycatchers have now moved higher to be common around the Hooper Bald picnic area- also well over 4500' ...certainly food for thought.
As for Snowbird Lodge, it’s a perfect place to stay to enjoy spring in the WNC Mountains. The accommodation and food are superb, and the birding ...well you had better be back next year to check it out!