Trip Report

Orchard at Altapass and Heffner Gap
September 18, 2020
Guide: Clifton Avery

The day after the remnants of Hurricane Sally passed through the Southern Appalachians we were welcomed with a beautiful and birdy day up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in McDowell County, NC. We started the morning off at Heffner Gap, a known fall migrant trap. It was birdy from the moment we got out of the car. Tennessee Warblers were by far the most common warbler passing through the gap. Good numbers of Black-throated Green Warblers as well. An early highlight was a Wilson’s Warbler that we all got brief but excellent looks at before it disappeared, continuing it’s journey south. A female Golden-winged Warbler darted through the midstory giving us all again, brief but good looks. As the morning continued on more waves of warblers continued to pass through. It wasn’t until nearly 10:30 that things finally started to quiet down a bit. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Eastern Wood-Peewee were two species that were high in numbers throughout the morning. Before leaving Heffner Gap were turned our eyes to the heavens and had a quick flurry of raptor activity. A few Broad-winged Hawks as well as a Red-shouldered Hawk passed over. We then headed to the Orchard.

We arrived at the Orchard in the late morning and bird activity had really begun to slow. We still saw a nice mix of species once we walked into the woods including a Black-throated Blue Warbler, our 18th warbler species for the morning. Redstarts, Black-and-White, Magnolia, Worm-eating, and Chestnut-sided Warblers were other warbler species we happened upon in the mature deciduous forest bordering the historic apple orchard. We then returned to the main grounds of the orchard and broke for lunch. A random Rock Pigeon that appeared to be injured foraged nearby us as we enjoyed a nice lunch in the warm Autumn sun. Another great day in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Birds Seen or Heard: Orchard at Altapass & Heffner Gap
September 18, 2020 Day Trip

Virginia: Species Encountered: 51 species

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Carolina Chickadee

    Tufted Titmouse
    Red-breasted Nuthatch
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
    House Wren (Northern)
    Carolina Wren
    Gray Catbird
    Swainson's Thrush
    Wood Thrush
    Cedar Waxwing
    American Goldfinch
    Eastern Towhee
    Worm-eating Warbler
    Golden-winged Warbler
    Black-and-white Warbler
    Tennessee Warbler
    Common Yellowthroat
    Hooded Warbler

    American Redstart
    Cape May Warbler
    Northern Parula
    Magnolia Warbler
    Bay-breasted Warbler
    Blackburnian Warbler
    Yellow Warbler
    Chestnut-sided Warbler
    Prairie Warbler
    Black-throated Green Warbler
    Black-throated Blue Warbler
    Wilson's Warbler
    Scarlet Tanager
    Northern Cardinal
    Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Indigo Bunting