Hampton Creek Preserve, Tennessee
May 20, 2015
After the fog in the valleys had burned off, we had another beautiful sunny day here in Western North Carolina and the adjacent counties of Tennessee. It is a beautiful drive through the edge of the Unicoi Mountains into Hampton Creek Cove. Small towns and barns dot the richly wooded countryside and hark back to a more rural past, but here that way of life seems the norm.
It’s a gentle hike up the cove and we spent a lot of time around the parking area due to the large number of birds singing. Yellow Warblers and Cedar Waxwings were common and a great start to the day was the Black-billed Cuckoo sitting in a tulip tree on the far side of the access road. A buzz-buzz-buzz song caught our attention and after following it up we had great views of a male Brewster’s Warbler, rather than the expected Golden-wing.
Thankfully we had good views of several Golden-winged Warblers on our morning hike. Chestnut-sided Warblers and Yellow-breasted Chats were singing from the shrubby edges and Broad-winged Hawks soared overhead.
We had a brief bit of excitement just before lunch when we met the sheriff, a local park ranger and a plain clothes policeman, the latter busy taking apart a piece of a meth-lab that had been found nearby – another “lifer” experience for most, if not all of us!
We spent the afternoon exploring a patch of spruce-fir forest at Carver’s Gap, where the birding was a little slow in mid-afternoon. An Alder Flycatcher was very obliging, as was a male Chestnut-sided Warbler – a lovely end to the day.