Shorebirds and more!
Henderson and Buncombe Counties, NC
August 24, 2014
Van Wingerden Pond, WWTP, Hooper Lane,
Mill’s River and Lake Julian
A cool front had moved through the night before dropping the temperatures into the 70’s. Thankfully so, otherwise hiking through the fields could have been a little warmer than it was today. We stopped a couple of times on our way to our main birding locale, adding an adult Great Blue Heron and a Blue Grosbeak, but as shorebirds were our target today, we walked down to where the sod fields were being harvested.
Surprisingly, work was going on today on the farm, so we stayed out of the way of all the machinery. The last time I had birded here there had been a lot of Killdeer feeding on the newly exposed earth and no other shorebirds at all. With the lack of rain in our area, we have had a very lackluster shorebird migration, so anything aside from a Killdeer makes for a good day.
A movement amongst the Killdeer revealed a small sandy-colored shorebird – a lovely Buff-breasted Sandpiper, fresh down from breeding in the Arctic. An immature Short-billed Dowitcher was also feeding in the slightly muddy earth. A nice bonus was a Mississippi Kite flying high over the soaring vultures. After lunch at a nearby restaurant we headed up to Lake Julian, where again, had the weather been cooperative, we hoped to find a few migrating terns.
Unfortunately the lake was busy with boaters and fishermen, and aside from the obligatory Mallards and Canada Geese, birds were scarce. A Great Blue Heron had found a quiet loafing area, where it was briefly joined by a Green Heron and a migrant Osprey. The latter soared over us several times before rising high into the afternoon sky. While not a day filled with a lot of birds, the quality was excellent.