Blue Ridge Parkway - North
August 8, 2013
This late summer tour saw our small group scour the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville for early migrants and late breeders, and though most of our high-elevation stops produced little bird activity, we made up for it with beautiful mountain views (once the fog cleared) and a lovely variety of wildflowers and butterflies.
We began the day at the Folk Art Center, and it surprisingly proved to be our most productive stop of the day. Scarlet Tanagers darted back and forth between the oaks and cherries, foraging in the company of Red-eyed Vireos, Black-and-white, Blackburnian and Pine Warblers. Once the foraging flocks moved off, we headed to the higher elevations. We drove all the way up to Ridge Junction Overlook near Mount Mitchell, and by this time the fog we had been driving through had cleared off. We were immediately rewarded with excellent views of Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Cedar Waxwing and gobs of American Goldfinch, which are still in the midst of their breeding season. Here also were countless butterflies, mostly Pipevine and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, fluttering amongst the roadside Goldenrod, Black-eyed Susans and other Asters.
We continued up to the Commissary Trail at Mount Mitchell and though we were unable to locate the erratic Red Crossbills, we got good looks at a few female Black-throated Blue Warblers. At the summit we heard a fair amount of warblers flying overhead, although most were obscured by the clouds and almost none of them landed anywhere nearby. Dark-eyed Juncos predominated at this elevation, although we did pick out several Golden-crowned Kinglets.
After lunch at Craggy Gardens, we headed back down to the Folk Art Center to finish the day. Even at 2:00 PM the trees were far more busy with bird activity than any of our high-elevation stops and we added a few new birds to the day's list, including Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Mockingbird, and we managed to finish the day with 31 species.