Trip Report


‘Spring Birding,’ Sandy Mush Game Lands,
Buncombe County; May 14, 2019

Carolina Rose

Flame Azalea

Sandy Mush Game Lands (SMGL) – Bear Creek Access
Sandy Mush Game Lands (SMGL) – Martin Candler Rd
Ledges Whitewater River Park (lunch)
Asheville Metropolitan Sewerage Department




The Sandy Mush Gamelands are a fascinating mosaic of habitats; from agricultural fields and river bottom land to pine scrub and brushy fields. Our day was planned to explore an area of managed second-growth and then head to some planted fields to get a good overall selection of open-country species. Our first stop was the Grasshopper Sparrow fields where we had scope views of a singing bird, along with Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Bluebird and a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks attempting to catch an Eastern Meadowlark! The Bear Creek Access to the Sandy Mush Gamelands welcomed us with a male Scarlet Tanager and a couple of Northern Parula; quickly followed by a little warbler flurry including Magnolia, Redstart, Hooded and Worm-eating. A male Prairie Warbler sang and gave us great views and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo clucked away from down towards Sandy Mush Creek. The Martin Candler access has several active American Kestrel nestboxes and a pair flew around us upon our arrival. A singing Northern Bobwhite was a nice surprise, but the only Yellow-breasted Chats of the day were way down the slope. We had lunch at the Ledges Whitewater Park where we were serenaded by a singing Baltimore Oriole. An immature Bald Eagle also flew over at a great height. A few of us finished the day with a stop at the Metropolitan Sewerage Department along the river where several Purple Martins were going in and out of the gourds. We actually had every species of Eastern swallow over the river, including a Bank Swallow, which gave us a fly-by.

We finished this beautiful spring day with 57 species – full list below!

Simon Thompson  

Indigo Bunting Ventures Picnic Ledges Park, Asheville NC Prairie Warbler


‘Spring Birding,’ Sandy Mush Game Lands, Buncombe County; May 14, 2019


Species encountered: 57 species



Canada Goose
Northern Bobwhite (Heard)
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Heard)
Chimney Swift
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker (Heard)
Eastern Kingbird
American Kestrel
Red-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay



American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
American Goldfinch
Grasshopper Sparrow
Field Sparrow

Song Sparrow (Heard)


Eastern Towhee
Yellow-breasted Chat (Heard)
Eastern Meadowlark
Orchard Oriole (Heard)
Baltimore Oriole (Heard)
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
Worm-eating Warbler
Hooded Warbler
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler (Heard)
Prairie Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
House Sparrow