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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Shorebird Workshop at Rankin Bottoms, TN

August 26, 2018

Leader: Kevin Burke

          

   Rankin Bottoms is a Wildlife Management Area on the shores of Douglas Lake at the confluence of the Nolichucky and French Broad Rivers near Newport, TN.  When the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) performs its annual draw down of the lake in late summer, the exposed mudflats attract a variety of migrating shorebirds and waders. Some days during late summer can be absolutely spectacular here! Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral and Least Sandpipers and Black-crowned Night-Heron are just a few of the more common birds we should see. Buff-breasted Sandpipers, although uncommon, are seen here every year along with Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, and more. Rarities and surprises occur here as well – we have had both American Avocet and Red Phalarope here on past tours!

    Prothonotary Warblers breed here and there may still be a few around in late August. We’ll also keep our eyes peeled for any other early songbird migrants, as well as any gulls or terns (Black, Forster’s and Caspian are possible).

Fall Warbler Workshop 1

Jackson Park Hendersonville, NC,
September 5, 2018

Leader: TBA

          

   Jackson Park in Hendersonville is easily one of the best fall birding spots in all of WNC. Nearly every migrating songbird in the east has been recorded here, with as many as 23 warblers recorded in a single day! Seldom seen on migration in this area, both Connecticut and Mourning Warblers, have been found in this park. More likely to be seen are Blackburnian, Cape May, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, Northern Waterthrush -- the list goes on and on! Early September is a great time to be looking for Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers as they pass through on their way south. Not only warblers are abundant in the fall; Philadelphia and Warbling Vireos are seen occasionally, along with Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireos. Swainson's and Wood Thrushes can be seen feeding on the berries at the tops of the trees along the woodland walk, and both Yellow-billed & Black-billed Cuckoos have been spotted as they migrate through the park.

Big Bald Banding Station, NC/TN

September 16, 2018

Leader: Aaron Steed

          

   Our day begins with a short hike up to Little Bald birding along the way. At this time of year, migrants should be numerous. Mixed flocks of fall-plumaged Tennessee, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian and Magnolia Warblers, as well as a selection of tanagers, vireos, grosbeaks and flycatchers, will be foraging in the wooded patches near the base of Big Bald. At the station, we will get to see the songbird banding process as each individual bird is banded, measured, weighed and released. Seeing birds such as warblers and Empidonax flycatchers up close as they are banded provides an invaluable insight into plumage and structural differences that can aid in field identification.

Spectacular Fall Migration

Ridge Junction Overlook, WNC
September 19, 2018

Leaders: Kevin Burke & Clifton Avery

          

   Ridge Junction Overlook is one of the best spots in the Blue Ridge to enjoy the fall migration of warblers and other passerines. Over the past few years there have been over 25 species of warblers seen at this spot, including Blackburnian, Magnolia, Mourning, Cerulean, Chestnut-sided, Hooded, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green…the list is endless. We even had a young female Kirtland’s Warbler on one of our past trips here! Other species include Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Swainson’s, Wood, Gray-cheeked, Hermit Thrushes & Veery, Red-eyed, Blue-headed and Philadelphia Vireos, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager and many more. This is also one of the most reliable spots in the mountains for Red Crossbills.  We will enjoy the passage of birds through the gap and also work on the identification of those “confusing fall warblers!” Join us for a relaxing morning enjoying fall migration in the Blue Ridge.

Fall Migration Historic Orchard at Altapass

Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
September 21, 2018

Leader: Clifton Avery

          

   Historic Orchard at Altapass to view birds migrating south.  Altapass is one of the lowest elevations on the Blue Ridge Parkway, providing a funnel effect for birds heading south for the winter. We will spend the day birding above and below the orchard, which are well known hotspots for migrating warblers.  We will also learn about the history of the Orchard at Altapass and what conservation measures the organization has taken to ensure protection of the orchard and native flora and fauna.

   Altapass in the fall usually provides exciting surprises as to what flies by each day in terms of species diversity and abundance.  We can expect to see: Ruffed Grouse, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Great-crested Flycatcher, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, 10-15 species of warblers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Fall Warbler Workshop 2

Jackson Park, Hendersonville, NC
September 23, 2018

Leader: Kevin Burke

          

   Jackson Park in Hendersonville is easily one of the best fall birding spots in all of WNC.  Nearly every migrating songbird in the east has been recorded here, with as many as 23 warblers recorded in a single day! Seldom seen on migration in this area, both Connecticut and Mourning Warblers, have been found in this park. More likely to be seen are Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Cape May, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, Northern Waterthrush -- the list goes on and on! Not only warblers are abundant in the fall; Philadelphia and Warbling Vireos are seen occasionally, along with Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireos. Swainson's and Wood Thrushes can be seen feeding on the berries at the tops of the trees along the woodland walk, and both Yellow-billed & Black-billed Cuckoos have been spotted as they migrate through the park.

Fall Warbler Workshop 3

Jackson Park, Hendersonville, NC
September 28, 2018

Leader: Michael Plauche

          

   Seldom seen on migration in this area, both Connecticut and Mourning Warblers, have been found in this park. More likely to be seen are Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Cape May, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, Northern Waterthrush -- the list goes on and on! Not only warblers are abundant in the fall; Philadelphia and Warbling Vireos are seen occasionally, along with Blue-headed, Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireos. Swainson's, Gray-cheeked, and Wood Thrushes can be seen feeding on the berries at the tops of the trees along the woodland walk, and both Yellow-billed & Black-billed Cuckoos have been spotted as they migrate through the park. We will of course spend a few minutes on the "Warbler Trail," and you’ll see firsthand how this trail got its name!

‘Fall Migration in Cades Cove’

Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN
September 27, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson

          

   A day spent looking for fall migrants at Cades Cove, located in one of the most visited National Parks in the US. This is peak migration so there should be plenty of birds around and we will be on the lookout for other wildlife as well.

   We will explore various habitats throughout Cades Cove on this walking and driving tour through one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park most beautiful treasures where over 119 avian species have been recorded in September.  

Seven Islands

State Birding Park, TN
Sunday, September 30, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson

          

  A day of looking for fall migrants at this excellent migration hotspot. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring additional snacks and water. We will probably cover 5-6 miles during the day, taking breaks as needed. Comfortable boots and layered clothing are recommended as temperatures can climb quickly in the open habitats, so please check the weather forecast.

   We will spend some all morning and part of the afternoon exploring the birds along approximately 5 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, and Wood Duck. It is possible to observe or hear 80 species in one day at this outstanding park!

Spectacular Fall Migration 2

Ridge Junction Overlook, WNC
October 1, 2018

Leaders: Aaron Steed & Michael Plauche

          

   Ridge Junction Overlook is one of the best spots in the Blue Ridge to enjoy the fall migration of warblers and other passerines. Over the past few years there have been over 25 species of warblers seen at this spot, including Blackburnian, Magnolia, Mourning, Cerulean, Chestnut-sided, Hooded, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green…the list is endless. We even had a young female Kirtland’s Warbler on one of our past trips here! Other species include Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Swainson’s, Wood, Gray-cheeked, Hermit Thrushes & Veery, Red-eyed, Blue-headed and Philadelphia Vireos, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager and many more. This is also one of the most reliable spots in the mountains for Red Crossbills.  We will enjoy the passage of birds through the gap and also work on the identification of those “confusing fall warblers!” Join us for a relaxing morning enjoying fall migration in the Blue Ridge.

‘Fall Migration in Sevier County, TN’

An Exploration for High Elevation Specialties and Migrants
October 2, 2018

Leader: Keith Watson

          

  A day spent in the higher reaches of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park looking for high-elevation birds plus fall migrants. This is a beautiful area and there should be no shortage of birds!

   We’ll begin by searching the parking area and immediate environs for migrants songbirds such as warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers, etc. and the always present high elevation specialties of the Great Smokies; Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Common Raven, kinglets, and hopefully, Red Crossbill, one of the most reliable spots in the park.    

Big Bald Banding Station 2, NC/TN

October 7, 2018

Leader: Clifton Avery

          

   Our day begins with a short hike up to Little Bald birding along the way. At this time of year, migrants should still be passing through. Mixed flocks of fall-plumaged Tennessee, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Bay-breasted and Magnolia Warblers, as well as a selection of tanagers, vireos, grosbeaks and flycatchers, should be foraging in the wooded patches near the base of Big Bald. At the station, we will get to see the songbird banding process as each individual bird is banded, measured, weighed and released. Seeing birds such as warblers and Empidonax flycatchers up close as they are banded provides an invaluable insight into plumage and structural differences that can aid in field identification.
   This time of year is also excellent for seeing migratory raptors and our group will get to assist with the hawk watch as well as enjoy the scenic, panoramic vista from the top of Big Bald. Though most of the Broad-winged Hawks will have already passed through at this point, Red-tail Hawk and Turkey Vulture migration picks up in October, and the flights can be impressive. Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks should be patrolling the area for migrating songbirds and we will keep our eyes peeled for American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon and Northern Harrier.