This is the tenth in our new series of County Birding Day-trips. Many of us enjoy County Birding with eBird’s new county maps and the multiple hotspots. We will explore as much as we can during our day and try to hit some of the best hotspots. The birding and pace will be easy, but there will be a fair bit of walking, so wear comfortable footwear and bring suitable clothing and your lunch.
Located in the far west of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Cherokee County is quite mountainous with Andrews and Murphy being the larger towns in the area. The county is predominantly forest at middle to high elevations, so the diversity of birds is not as rich as in counties in the lower elevations. Regardless of this fact, the forested mountains and valleys are spectacular and we are bound to enjoy a great variety of birds.
We will meet at the parking area on the new and very fancy Cherokee County/Andrews Rest Area near Andrews (where we have seen and heard Kentucky Warbler). This is also an eBird hotspot, one of only 6 in the county and one we will spend a few minutes exploring. We have reported Kentucky Warbler in the adjacent patch of woodland and a colony of Cliff Swallows is under a nearby bridge. Our first stop is the nearby Historic Welch Farm, which under the auspices of the Mainspring Conservation Trust, is preserving and restoring farmland and bottomland forest that dates back to the 1880’s. A walk here can be very profitable with warblers moving through the brushy areas along the creek, where Belted Kingfisher and Great Blue Heron fish in Valley River.
Murphy is a few miles further along Highway 74 and we will enjoy a walk and maybe have lunch along the riverfront. The final stop (unless we find some new spots!) will be the Campbell Folk School near Brasstown. This well-known facility offers a wide range of classes on pottery, Basketry, metalwork and a host of other traditional crafts. The birding can also be very good on the grounds, with a list of 30-40 species possible on a late summer/early fall day.
Join us for an enjoyable day exploring Cherokee County, a very picturesque county with a total eBird list of only 180 species. Let’s see if we can add a couple to the list on our day today as we explore the county.