Trip Report

Spring in Sandy Mush

Western NC

April 8, 2021

Guide: Aaron Steed

Our first Sandy Mush tour of the year began with visits to several of the access points along Cedar Hill Road. Though it was a bit cool to start with, we found the birds to be quite active, especially in the first couple of hours. FIELD SPARROW songs were prevalent (as they always are) as were CHIPPING SPARROWS. We got great views of a foraging BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and a recently returned WHITE-EYED VIREO, singing its 'quick, gimme a beer quick' song almost constantly. A singing NORTHERN PARULA eluded us but not for long, and we eventually found him singing from the top of a maple. Back near the parking area, we found YELLOW-THROATED VIREO singing the typical 'three A' song, and the first of many singing RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS for the day.

As the morning progressed, we began to see more raptors, first with both TURKEY and BLACK VULTURES leaving their nightly roosts, soaring up on thermals. While we observed a male AMERICAN KESTREL through the scope, a couple of BROAD-WINGED HAWKS cruised overhead, their banded tails just visible from our distance. Songbird activity tends to drop in the game lands in late morning but we still managed to find a few more 'day birds' for our list before lunch, including RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, and a couple of flyover flocks of PURPLE FINCH.

Special thanks must be given to Sam Cathey, for generously offering his porch in Alexander for a convenient lunch spot. Birding here also had its rewards – we got great looks at EASTERN PHOEBE, COMMON GRACKLES, and a male EASTERN BLUEBIRD gifting food to his mate while we ate our lunch.

We finished this delightful, early spring day in Sandy Mush with a total of 50 species!

Spring in Sandy Mush

April 8, 2021

50 Species Encountered

Wild Turkey
Mourning Dove
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Eastern Phoebe
White-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo

    Blue Jay
    American Crow
    Carolina Chickadee
    Tufted Titmouse
    Tree Swallow
    Barn Swallow
    Golden-crowned Kinglet (heard)
    Ruby-crowned Kinglet
    White-breasted Nuthatch
    Brown-headed Nuthatch
    Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
    House Wren (heard only)
    Carolina Wren
    European Starling
    Northern Mockingbird
    Brown Thrasher

    Eastern Bluebird
    American Robin
    House Finch
    Purple Finch
    American Goldfinch
    Chipping Sparrow
    Field Sparrow
    White-throated Sparrow
    Song Sparrow
    Eastern Towhee
    Brown-headed Cowbird
    Eastern Meadowlark
    Red-winged Blackbird
    Common Grackle
    Northern Parula
    Pine Warbler
    Yellow-rumped Warbler
    Northern Cardinal