Date: 9/18/17 9:07 am
From: \Shultz, Steven\ (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Carolina Bird Club Blue Ridge Parkway trip 9/16-17
The Carolina Bird Club Blue Ridge Parkway field trip to northwestern North Carolina ran over the weekend. With cleanup in the aftermath of Irma's passage still underway mid-week, we were unsure if the parkway would reopen in time, but the National Park Service came through, and the road opened Thursday.

Saturday brought blue skies, light and variable wind, and crystal clear visibility. Perfect conditions for viewing the flocks of fall migrants normally found along the parkway. Maybe the weather was too good, as the birds found little need to flock together in hopes of finding sustenance. Instead of finding packs of madly feeding little feathered things, we found just a bare trickle of onesies an twosies. Normally the location of any chickadee/titmouse confab on the parkway results in finding attendant warblers, vireos, and tanagers, but the chicks and tits must not have showered Friday night, because they had few friends Saturday. We ended the day with 15 species of warbler, with Blue-winged probably the "best" along with Cape May, Tennessee and Bay-breasted. This is in spite of the very active day reported a bit farther south at Ridge Junction.

Sunday turned out to be much better. We stopped initially at Mahogany Rock overlook to drop a few cars, noticed birds zipping through the foliage, and ended up with the "flock of the weekend", an impressive swirl of neotrops that included no less than 15 species of warblers, two new for the trip. So mark the warbler tally at 17.

We enjoyed picnic lunch at the hawk watch both Saturday and Sunday, spotting small numbers of Broad-winged Hawk among the locals. A Peregrine Falcon Sunday morning topped the raptor list.

The fun does not stop on these trips when the clock hands move past five o'clock. From our tailgating party in the motel parking lot we enjoyed a stream of migrating nighthawks zipping overhead. And then as darkness fell, we had front row seats to an impressive Chimney Swift show where hundreds of tiny flying cigars met, mingled, and then all decided to share the same chimney for their overnight activities.

The parking lot also provided what was, for most of us, a lifer: watching a dog walk up to a restaurant drive through window to get a cheese sandwich.

The night ended with an impromptu dance party, also in the motel parking lot, before folks drifted off for well-deserved visions of sugar plums.

Look for another edition of this somewhat infamous trip next September :)

Happy birding,
Steve Shultz
Apex, NC



 
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