This is the second 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, Rutherford County has a nice mix of habitats from moist forests along the Blue Ridge Escarpment to agricultural fields and pine forests in the lower elevations, but aside from Chimney Rock Park, this county is hardly on the radar of many birders.
We will start our day at Morse Park in Lake Lure, which has a good network of easy paved trails with small swampy wetlands along the lake shore. 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. Bald Eagles nest and winter around Lake Lure and small numbers of ducks appear from time to time. These could include Wood Duck, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck and Hooded Merganser.
We will continue driving around Lake Lure checking the lake for waterfowl, before heading into the more rural parts of the county, where eBird Hotspots are non-existent. This will be a voyage of discovery as we drive down the quiet country roads looking for Pine Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch and maybe a wintering Blue-headed Vireo in some of the larger pine stands.
Other spots we may hit are Lake Imogen at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, where we could find some waterfowl, as well as Ring-billed Gulls; Eagle Lake in Rutherfordton has sometimes had a few ducks and Fish Crows are expanding into the area.
Join us for an enjoyable day exploring some of the varied habitats that make up Rutherford County; a very under-birded county with a total eBird list of under 200 species. Let’s see if we can add a couple to the list on our day today as we explore the county.