We will start in the lower Piedmont, exploring some farmland habitats before climbing slowly into the nearby hills. Birding and pace will be easy, but there will be a fair bit of walking, so wear comfortable footwear.
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. While the weather may indeed be perfect year-round, there’s nothing that beats a walk in the woods in the spring. The new leaves are a bright emerald green, the first spring flowers are carpeting the forest floor and the woods are full of the sound of birdsong.
We will start our day at FENCE, where we walk the trails listening and looking for newly arrived spring and summer residents. Both Indigo Bunting and Common Yellowthroat should have already set up territories at the pond while the nearby thickets may still have a few late White-throated Sparrows. Prairie Warblers will have also returned and we’ll search for them in the open areas. We’ll then move along River Road where Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-throated Warblers nest before climbing into lovely cove forest habitat near Saluda. Black-and-white, Worm-eating and Black-throated Green Warblers should be back by now and we should be able to see them well as the leafy canopy will have only just started to emerge.
Join us for an enjoyable day exploring some of the varied habitats that make up Polk County, one of North Carolina’s smallest, yet most diverse counties.
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.