Trip Report


Rankin Bottoms Cocke County; TN
September 8, 2019


Kevin and birders

Keith on the tracks
This year’s installation of the Ventures Rankin Bottom’s trip was a great success.  We started out meeting near Waynesville, NC and carpooled to Rankin Bottoms from there. You know it is going to be a good day when you see a BALD EAGLE and two RAVENS on
I-40 driving up to Tennessee.


Kevin Burke, Simon Thompson, and Keith Watson all shared the spotting and guiding responsibilities for the day. We fist parked at the entrance to Rankin Bottoms by the railroad tracks. This proved to be a good choice. There were several flycatchers including EASTERN PHEOBE, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, EASTERN KINGBIRD, and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE. A locally rare WARBLING VIREO gave us all great looks, and a preening PROTHONOTARY WARBLER put on a show. A few other passerines were in the area including MAGNOLIA WARBLER, SUMMER TANAGER, and several INDIGO BUNTINGS. We had been birding for forty-five minutes or so and had forty-seven species at the first stop!


We moved down the road a bit and took the poison ivy trail to the water.  Many GREAT EGRETS were in the slough.  Our first looks at shorebirds included KILDEER, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and LEAST SANDPIPER. Our first DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS of the day flushed into the water from a dead snag and the resident CANADA GEESE were lazing on the far shore.  We moved down a bit to the main parking area to look over the majority of the slough and the big pond on the left side to the road.  Several WOOD DUCKS were swimming in the pond.  We spotted a single immature BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, and then an adult.  While scanning the far shore of the pond Keith yelled IBIS!  We had four WHITE IBIS that would eventually give us great perched views.  The slough side of the bottoms had a decent amount of mud, but it was a little far for binocular viewing.  Scope views were needed to pull out some of the shore birds.  We eventually found AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, and PECTORAL SANDPIPER.


Lunch was a wonderful picnic under some shady Willows overlooking the pond.  Our Blue Ridge Bites consist of mostly local foods, homemade pickles and jellies, and my personal favorite cookies!  Rankin Bottoms tends to warm up in the afternoon and the bird activity slows a bit, but the lighting improves over the slough.  We checked a couple spots after lunch including the poison ivy trail.  We had much better looks at LESSER YELLOWLEGS, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, OSPREY, and BAIRD’S SANDPIPER.  By this time the day was getting hot and we decided to head home.  On the way out we saw two PEREGRINE FALCONS chasing each other and then a flock of FERAL PIGEONS.


We ended the day with a total of seventy-eight species between Rankin Bottoms and the commute there and back.  The birding was awesome, the company was fantastic, and I can’t wait to go back next year.  If you have not been please think about joining us next time.  This is truly a hidden gem of a place close to the Asheville area.

Good Birding!

Kevin Burke



Bald Eagle Great Egret and White Ibis Eastern Kingbird
Osprey Birding Group White Ibis


Rankin Bottoms Cocke County; TN September 8, 2019


Species encountered: 74 species



Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Blue-winged Teal


Green-winged Teal

Wild Turkey

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

American Golden-Plover

Semipalmated Plover


Baird’s Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Ring-billed Gull

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron



Black-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Cooper’s Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Bellted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Peregrine Falcon
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
White-eyed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay

American Crow

Carolina Chickadee


Tufted Titmouse
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Carolina Wren
European Starling
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Swainson’s Thrush
Cedar Waxwing
American Goldfinch
Song Sparrow
Prothonotary Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting




White-tailed Deer


Cloudless Sulphur
Red-spotted Purple
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Various Skippers