Blue Ridge Birding
June 5, 2013
In this exploration of the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville, our small group managed to rustle up 46 bird species, including such high elevation specialties as Canada Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Winter Wren.
We began the foggy morning at the Mount Pisgah picnic area, where we were greeted by the husky song of the Black-throated Blue Warbler. We got decent looks through the fog as he hopped from branch to branch near the bottom of a hemlock. We also had a few Chestnut-sided Warblers, counter singing from either side of the road, as well as a pair of Blue-headed Vireos.
At Graveyard Fields, the rhododendron thickets were alive and bustling with Canada Warbler, Gray Catbird, and Common Yellowthroat. Just down the Parkway, on the road to Black Balsam, we had Alder Flycatchers aplenty, teasing us with their 'free BEER' song as they sat motionless on low perches. Black-throated Green Warblers also abounded here, with Golden-crowned Kinglets and Chestnut-sided Warblers.
We continued south, stopping for lunch at Richland Balsam. On the way we had excellent looks at a very cooperative Blackburnian Warbler at Rough Butt Bald Overlook - so cooperative that we were able to get prolonged scope views of this beautiful bird as it sang its high pitched song! Here we also had Winter Wren and Red-breasted Nuthatch, both vocalizing.
We finished the day up at Mile High Campground off Heintooga Rd. Here we had yet another Blackburnian, though this one was far less cooperative, keeping mainly out of sight as it foraged in the top of an oak. We were however treated to excellent views of several Least Flycatchers, most giving their 'che-BIK' vocalization. As if the day couldn't get any better, we watched as a quiet Least Flycatcher flew as inconspicuously as possible back to its nest, where it settled down and continued incubating! This capped a fine day of exploring the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge Parkway.