This is the third 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 foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cleveland County has a nice mix of habitats from moist forests along the Blue Ridge Escarpment to cotton fields and pine forests in the lower elevations, plus a large man-made lake which can be good for winter waterfowl.
After we meet in the morning, we will start our day birding around the New Age Dawning Dirt Farm in Lattimore. This experimental farm can be good for wintering sparrows, such as White-crowned, Savannah and maybe even Grasshopper. Horned Larks and American Pipits can be obvious and several wintering raptors spend the colder months of the year in this open agricultural area. Loggerhead Shrike, Lapland Longspur and Barn Owl are also locally distributed in the county and we hope to run into one or more of these birds as we crisscross the vast tracts of cotton fields. More expected species would be Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler and Wild Turkey and we will look for Rusty Blackbird in the large flocks of wintering blackbirds.
Moss Lake has a pair of Bald Eagles which nest in the tall pines and the lake can be good for gulls and ducks and other waterfowl during the winter. These could include Horned Grebe, Common Loon, Wood Duck, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck and Hooded Merganser.
Join us for an enjoyable day exploring some of the varied habitats that make up Cleveland County; a very under-birded county with a total eBird list of just over 230 species. Let’s see if we can add a couple to the list on our day today as we explore the county.