Date: 10/20/17 9:47 am
From: Harry LeGrand (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Say's Phoebe at VOA Game Lands, Beaufort County, NC Update
As a reminder, the Voice of America Site A, as Marty said, is now a NC
Wildlife Resources Commission game land. Here is the WRC website map for
this game land:

The Say's Phoebe has been at the Restricted Area (yellow, with diagonal
red) on the map. In the past, the breeding Henslow's Sparrows have
essentially been limited to the eastern half of the game land. Until a few
years ago, you could often hear them singing from Horse Pen Swamp Road,
along the south border. But, with the game land now open to the public (at
least, right now the paved entrance road from Cherry Run Road to the
parking areas is open), you won't have to look for the birds from Horse Pen
Swamp Road starting in 2018. You should be able to drive in and park at one
or both parking lots. Note -- there is a gate at Cherry Run Road, which is
open now. I hope it stays open next year so that folks don't have to park
outside this gate.

Also, as Marty said, it is indeed a game land, and thus open to hunters.
So, if you are planning to do some walking around, away from the abandoned
buildings and fences at the Restricted Area, be prepared to wear blaze
orange. The WRC staff have done some controlled burning of the habitat,
and right now there are a variety of flowers in bloom, mostly composites.
The site has a number of rare or uncommon "savanna" plants, and thus next
year it might be worth poking around not only for Henslow's Sparrows but to
look for and photograph wildflowers, herps, butterflies, etc. I have no
idea how well the "trails" as shown on the map will be maintained by WRC.
These were formerly dirt roads/tracks that led to a few dozen antennae,
which have now been removed. Thus, the entire 2,818-acre site looks like a
4 square-mile expanse of shrubby grassland, early succession fields, and
"savanna" -- managed mostly for the Henslow's Sparrows, but should also
help Bobwhites and other early succession species.

There are Northern Harriers in the fall and winter -- Kent Fiala and I saw
one yesterday -- and that means at night there ought to be a few
Short-eared Owls out there. And, two decades ago (and perhaps still is)
there was a group of Long-eared Owls that roosted in an adjacent pine
forest, and fed (presumably) at these fields at the VOA site. So, it might
behoove folks to visit the site at dusk as the weather gets colder to look
and listen for owls -- now that access into the interior of the site is
available, that wasn't in previous years. No telling what sparrows --
Lincoln's, Grasshopper, LeConte's?, Henslow's???, might winter here, as

I took part in a one-day bio-blitz in June a few years ago, and that was
when the site was still in US Government ownership and had not had much or
any recent burning. With the controlled burns to help create better
Henslow's habitat, the diversity of plant and animal life should improve in
upcoming years.

You should be aware that a number of outdoor activity groups have been
interested in "using" much of the game land for their activities. This
includes dog trial areas, firing range, fishing groups (such as adding a
pond), horse trails, etc., etc. So, do not expect the entire 2,818 acres
to stay undeveloped forever. WRC staff acquired the tract mainly for
protection and management of the Henslow's Sparrow, which use mostly or
nearly entirely the eastern half. Thus, the western half, which is a bit
higher and drier, might be converted to other uses to accommodate other
groups and activities. Enjoy the full VOA site for birding, botanizing,
butterflying, herping, etc., while you can. And, again, as a reminder, it
is a game land, so stay alert and be prepared to wear your blaze orange (or
come back another time if there are too many hunters for your comfort and

Harry LeGrand

On Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 5:41 PM, Marty Wall <carolinabirds...> wrote:

> A Say's Phoebe was present at the recently opened to the public VOA Game
> Lands (former Voice of America site A, eBird Hot Spot: Bear Grass VOA Site)
> in Beaufort County, NC this morning. I was on the fence around the
> building complex (must stay outside fence), on the southeast corner
> (approximately 35.697868, -77.153082). When I first saw it, it was
> chasing a curious Eastern Phoebe away from its section of fence. If you go
> looking, it could be anywhere around the building complex. There is a
> passable deer trail along the edge of the fence. You will have to cross a
> drainage ditch (dry this morning). Also, be very careful where you step,
> the area was full of holes, some large enough to cause injury if you are
> not careful. There may be hunting on the property, so blaze orange is a
> good idea. I heard a lot of shots early in the morning, but then it got
> quiet. I have posted a photo to the Carolina Birds Website.
> eBird Report:
> <>
> Marty Wall
> Beaufort, NC

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