Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Carolina Bird Club Meeting in Blowing Rock, NC -- Day 1 -- PM

It is time to continue the recounting of my and Carl's birding weekend with the Carolina Bird Club (CBC) in Blowing Rock, NC in early May.  After our excellent morning of birding along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), north of Blowing Rock, we returned to town for lunch and then for another field trip closer to town -- namely, my group visited Trout Lake and Bass Lake in the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.  Because Carl had homework to do for his MBA class, he stayed behind in the hotel room (but he was still birding and I will tell you how below!)

Our group started off first at Trout Lake -- a very wooded natural area full of hardwoods and rhododendron  -- perfect nesting habitat for species such as the Veery (a life bird for me!), the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (which is only a winter resident for us in the Lowcountry), the Canada Warbler (which I have never seen in the Lowcountry), and Black-Throated Blue Warblers (I have seen these on rare occasions in the Lowcountry -- migrating through, I assume).  The Canada Warblers were in great abundance and we even noticed females gathering nesting material!

The group with whom I was birding was especially excited about the Wood Ducks on the lake.  So I shared with them a tidbit -- "our" mother Wood Duck at home in the box behind our house was brooding eggs that we expected were going to hatch this weekend.  It was indeed bad timing for us to be away from home since we would definitely miss the chicks' grand leap from the box.  But Carl had rigged a video camera in the box with an internet feed through our own personal server, so we still hoped to at least capture the chicks' hatching and hopping around the box.

Trout Lake -- Moses H. Cone Memorial Park 

Painted trillium

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

A Veery which led us down the trail seemingly unbothered by us!

 A very perky and curious Canada Warbler

A Black-Throated Blue Warbler

A Spotted Sandpiper!

A friendly Mallard looking for a handout!

After circling Trout Lake, we took a very short drive to the other side of the parkway to Bass Lake.  From Bass Lake, there is a lovely view of Flat Top Manor, Moses H. Cone's mansion, that he built and which today houses a wonderful local artisan craft shop.  I was lagging behind the group a bit and spotted some yellow fuzz in the grass among the group of adult Canada Geese -- babies!  So I dawdled a little more to take their picture.  Someone in the group called out to me to come quickly.  They had missed seeing the baby geese but had spotted a mother Wood Duck with her very young chicks in the lake within range of my long lens!  Just as I approached to take pictures of this Wood Duck, my cell phone began to rang.  It was Carl but the reception was truly bad because of the mountains and all I could understand was "wo&* #$k".  He could not really understand me either.  But since he said "wo&* #$k" first, I assumed and I hoped that he could see "our" chicks hatching out at home over the internet feed!  What a coincidence!  I am looking at Wood Duck chicks when "our" chicks at home begin hatching!  So, yes, although Carl was stuck in the hotel room doing homework, he was still also birding.  As we continued around the lake, we encountered a surplus of Tufted Titmice, more Wood Ducks, and a few more common species.  Another treat was the beaver!  Then, we saw cows grazing in an adjoining pasture.  And our final bird was a lovely White-Breasted Nuthatch.  All in all, this was a great birding field trip!

When I arrived back at the hotel room, I found that my assumption was right!  "Our" Wood Ducks were hatching and I was able to see the recorded video! 

Bass Lake and Flat Top Manor House in the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Wood Ducks on Bass Lake at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park


"Our" Wood Duck's chicks in Charleston were hatching at the same time that I was looking at the above chicks in Blowing Rock, NC!  A cool coincidence!  -- photo by Carl Miller




White-Breasted Nuthatch       

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