Trip Report for
Bird Songs Workshop
May 7, 2014
We began our annual bird songs workshop at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary bright and early. We were greeted first thing by all the songs of the most typical suburban birds – Eastern Towhees, singing ‘drink your TEEEA,’ the Cardinals singing ‘cheer cheer, purdy purdy purdy,’ and the Carolina Wrens singing ‘tea kettle.’ Overhead, we heard the twittering of Chimney Swifts as they hunted insects on the wing. A moment’s exploration around the pond yielded a Veery, softly singing its descending, flute-like song as it foraged on the ground. Here, we also had first warbler of the morning – an American Redstart illustrating how variable its songs can be. The House Wrens were back in full force as well, their complicated, rambling songs emanating from several backyards. Near the large box elder, we had great looks at a Green Heron and even got to hear its harsh call. Walking along the boardwalk we discovered several Western Palm Warblers, some of which were singing, which was a treat. It’s always nice to hear these migrants singing songs that we would otherwise never get to hear, as most breed far to the north in Canada.
On the Merrimon side of the lake, we enjoyed lengthy scope views of a Yellow-throated Warbler perched in a white pine, singing its heart out. Farther along, we found a bluebird house occupied by chattering Tree Swallows, their vivid, metallic blue catching the sun’s rays nicely. We didn’t find any orioles, but we heard the whiny calls of Brown-headed Nuthatches from a patch of pines on the other side of the road.
Around late morning, we left the increasingly warm low elevations for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our first stop was at Craven Gap, where the burry song of a Scarlet Tanager teased us from somewhere high in an oak, while the ‘Teacher teacher’ song of a multitude of Ovenbirds rang out all around us. Red-eyed Vireos were plentiful as well, singing ‘here I am, where are you’ incessantly. Just south of Tanbark we found a beautiful male Cerulean Warbler in good light, singing heartily. Here we also had several other gorgeous warblers – Blackburnian, Black-and-white, Hooded and another American Redstart. We also heard Eastern Wood-Pewee and the high pitched, level whistle of a Broad-winged Hawk.
We had our lunch at the Folk Art Center, where we heard more common bird species – White-breasted Nuthatch, American Crow, Eastern Phoebe, Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse among others. The day grew very hot and quiet so we opted to call it a day right after finishing lunch, but we had a pleasant day and ended up seeing and hearing 59 species.