This is the first 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 central Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills, Polk County is known for its mild climate due to the "Thermal Belt." This is when warm air settles and moderates the temperatures — cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This phenomenon allows for outdoor activities to be enjoyed throughout the seasons.
We will start our day at FENCE, where we will walk the trails listening and looking for newly arrived winter birds, some of the local residents and any lingering migrants. Swamp and White-throated Sparrows should be in the deep thickets along with a few over-wintering Brown Thrasher and maybe a lingering Gray Catbird.
Lake Adger and the Green Cove Gamelands are also 2 of the best hotspots in the county and increased birding coverage over the last few years has resulted in some great discoveries. Common Mergansers are regular nesting birds along the Green River and good numbers of Swainson’s Warblers also make the Green River Cove their summer home. Bald Eagles are resident on the lake and small numbers of shorebirds use the mudflats on their way to and from their breeding grounds.
Should time allow, we will explore some of Polk County’s farming and horse country for Red-headed Woodpecker, Eastern Meadowlark , American Kestrel and maybe Loggerhead Shrike – although the last remaining pair in the county may have now disappeared.
Lakes are few and far between in the county, although some of the smaller farm ponds have attracted Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck and Blue-winged Teal.