This is the ninth in our new series of County Birding Day-trips. Many of us enjoy County Birding with eBird’s new county maps and the multiple hotspots. We will explore as much as we can during our day and try to hit some of the best hotspots. The birding and pace will be easy, but there will be a fair bit of walking, so wear comfortable footwear and bring suitable clothing and your lunch.
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Avery County is quite mountainous with small communities set far apart in the forested landscape of Western North Carolina. The county is predominantly forest at middle to high elevations, so the diversity of birds is not as rich as in counties in the lower elevations. Regardless of this fact, the forested mountains are spectacular and we are bound to enjoy a great variety of mountain-breeding birds.
We will meet at the parking area on the Linville River Picnic Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where we will look for species, such as Black-throated Green and Blackburnian Warblers, Common Raven and Broad-winged Hawk. It’s not a long drive up to Newland and the Roby Shomaker Wetlands. Here we should see the few aquatic species that occur in the Mountains – Belted Kingfisher, Canada Goose and Wood Duck. Grandfather Mountain is one of the most obvious birding spots in the county, and over the years, has attracted such goodies as White-winged Crossbill and Townsend’s Solitaire! Normally-occurring birds are a little less exciting, but all indicative of higher elevations- Dark-eyed Junco, Winter Wren, Brown Creeper and maybe Red Crossbill. If we have time we will also stop by another eBird hot-spot, Mill Pond in Banner Elk. This spot is another wetland and attracts Common Yellowthroat, Least Flycatcher and several warblers, such as Chestnut-sided, Hooded and Black-and-White.
Join us for an enjoyable day exploring Avery County, a very picturesque county with a total eBird list of only 213 species. Let’s see if we can add a couple to the list on our day today as we explore the county.