'Sparrows and Early Winter Birds'
Mills River, NC
October 20, 2013
The day began chilly, but soon warmed into a sunny, warm and cloudless day. This Venture was designed to focus on sparrows and other early winter arrivals, and did not disappoint as we ended with 49 species.
Our first stop was the Super Sod fields on Hooper Lane, where we were surprised to find a group of 6 American Golden-Plovers - a little late for this species. Among the hordes of American Crows we heard the nasal calls of a few Fish Crows, a species that seems to be increasing in the western part of the state.
We spent most of our morning at Mills River Park on the other end of Hooper Lane, where we had great views of a variety of sparrows, including Field, Song, Savannah and White-crowned, as well as a single Vesper Sparrow. We got fleeting glimpses of Swamp Sparrows, which proved to be the most uncooperative species on the day. American Crows were in abundance here as well as they noisily alerted us to a few Red-shouldered Hawks, which soared up overhead, giving us great looks at their transparent wing crescents. We also spotted a flyover Osprey, also a bit late.
After a delicious lunch at the park we checked out a few more spots in the Mills River area. At the wastewater treatment plant we had a large flock of Canada Goose, a smattering of Killdeer and a single Pied-billed Grebe. We finished the day at the Eurasian Collared-Dove spot behind the Ingles on 280, where we had about a dozen Collared-Doves, an American Kestrel and Pileated Woodpecker.