Venture to Stecoah Gap,
Graham County, NC
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A bright and beautiful spring day became hot quickly, but it didn't seem to affect the birds as we ended the day with 15 warbler species and great views of other excellent neotropical migrants.
As we stepped out of the car upon arriving at Stecoah Gap, we were immediately treated to the songs of Cerulean and Chestnut-sided Warblers, American Redstarts and Ovenbirds. Within minutes, we'd gotten incredible looks at a male American Redstart chasing another male, and a Chestnut-sided Warbler, which flew across the road just 6" above the ground straight towards the group and then swooped up over our heads to land in the trees behind.
As we progressed down the forest road, many other warblers made themselves visible including Blackburnian, Black-and-White, Hooded, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green and Northern Parula. Warblers weren't the only thing on the menu, however, as we heard the sweet, melodic song of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak from high above.
We located the bird at the top of a Tulip Poplar, and got prolonged looks as he sat facing us with his bright red breast. Scarlet Tanagers and Blue-headed Vireos were also in abundance, and we got fleeting glimpses of a Wood Thrush after hearing it sing.
After lunch we headed to Snowbird Mountain Lodge to watch the feeders and bird from a more sedentary position. The feeders were chocked full of American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We were alerted by the burry song of a Yellow-throated Vireo singing from above, and though they can be a challenging bird to locate in the newly emerged canopy, the group got some good views.
To finish the day we stopped again at Stecoah Gap to see what other warblers we might rustle up. Within a few minutes of arriving, we had a Cerulean and a Golden-winged Warbler in the same tree! The group watched in excitement as the Cerulean chased the Golden-winged away, capping a marvelous warbler-filled day in the Southern Appalachians of North Carolina.