This is the sixth 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, Swain County is a great birding county. The majority of the county is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with excellent forest birding and a multitude of hiking trails. The Tuckasegee River flows through Bryson City and the lower part of Swain County and it’s in this lower portion where the land has been farmed for generations.
We will meet at the Island Park parking area in Bryson City, where we will check the Tuckasegee River for any waterbirds. Birding will be typically riparian with Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher and by now, the first Northern Parula and Yellow-throated Warblers should be singing from the nearby trees.
Our next stop is Kituwah Farm, a 309-acre property situated on the banks of the Tuckasegee River. Also known as Ferguson Fields, this is one of the seven mother towns of the Cherokee tribe in the Southeast and is a site of great historical significance and in 1996 the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reclaimed the land for the tribe. The habitats here are a mix of early successional grassy fields, floodplain forest and riparian corridor, all of which are quite attractive to a good variety of open-country species, such as Eastern Meadowlark, Blue Grosbeak, Red-shouldered hawk and Eastern Kingbird.
Should the weather be obliging, we may head up into the Smokies and walk one of the trails. Here we should get Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Louisiana Waterthrush and a bevy of newly-arrived warblers, such as Black-and-white, Black-throated Green and Ovenbird.
Join us for an enjoyable day exploring Swain County, a very picturesque county with a total eBird list of just over 200 species. Let’s see if we can add a couple to the list on our day today as we explore the county.