Ridge Junction Overlook
September 28, 2016
A few clouds hung over the peaks of Mt Mitchell as we started our morning at Ridge Junction. This classic fall migration spot is pretty reliable for good numbers of migrating passerines. The morning started slowly and then the birds started to appear. A steady stream of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks passed over our heads often uttering their diagnostic calls while large numbers of (mostly unidentified) warblers also poured south. It's more than a challenge to identify flying warblers by their chip-notes, so we had to find perched birds. One of the most exciting finds of the day was the immature Kirtland's Warbler. Even after convincing ourselves that this was indeed a KIWA with its gray rump, bobbing tail and yellow underparts, we still could barely believe it. It's now the 6th record for North Carolina.
Other highlights were the quantity of Monarch butterflies drifting over and nectaring on the asters, several Swainson's and Wood Thrushes, a fly-by Merlin and some even higher-flying Red Crossbills – the latter identified by their distinctive call notes.
An almost perfect day in the Blue Ridge with clear skies and a steady stream of southbound migrants – all washed down with one of our locally-sourced picnic lunches.