Come spend a day searching for migrants around the Raleigh area! The southbound flow of birds should be well underway, and we plan to visit some of the county’s best hotspots looking for mixed flocks. The walking will not be too strenuous since we will be following roads and established trails. However sturdy, waterproof footwear is suggested. Also insect repellent may still be necessary.
The day will begin at Lake Crabtree County Park where we will scour a variety of habitat for avian life. We will start with the treetops and fields adjacent to the lake and then move on to the marshes and (hopefully if it is dry enough) mudflats. Expect a variety of warblers such as American Redstart, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided and Cape May. Red-eyed and Solitary Vireos are likely—and maybe even a Philadelphia will appear. Empidonax flycatchers are quite possible as are Great Cresteds. The fields should hold lingering Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks and passing Field and Savannah Sparrows. In the wetter habitat, we should see at least a few waders such as Great Egrets and immature Little Blue Herons. If there is enough mud, Semi-palmated Plovers or sandpipers such as Least or Lesser Yellowlegs could be found foraging. A Bald Eagle or to will be all but guaranteed!
The group will then caravan to one or two of the nearby Greenways to look for more woodland species. Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks will all be possible. Local Red-shouldered Hawks, Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches will surely be in evidence as well.
Next we will head for Harris Lake where there will be multiple stops. We will experience mixed forest, old fields as well as open water. This is the best area for thrushes. Trails here through mature hardwoods will hopefully produce a few Veerys, Swainson’s or Gray-cheekeds. And we should cross paths with at least one Pileated Woodpecker. Although they are not migrants, the open woods around the lake are very productive when it comes to seeing Wild Turkeys and, although less abundant, even a Northern Bobwhite is possible.
We will end the day by scanning the lake for more waders as well as early waterbirds. Double-crested Cormorants, Pied-billed Grebes and American Coots all could be seen foraging. Lingering groups of Tree or Barn Swallows may still be in the area. And the first of the Ring-billed Gulls could already be on-site.
Depending on the weather leading up to our day in the field, we may find a few species expected a bit later in the season. If enough weather has been tracking from the north, we will be prepared for the first Yellow-rumped Warblers, Fox Sparrows and Brown Creepers. With some luck, we may have the opportunity to stop to see an early winter hummingbird before the trip winds down as well.
Of course, we will keep an eye out for other wildlife such as White-tailed Deer and late season butterflies as well as Fall wildflowers. There should be plenty of good photo opportunities so feel free to bring a camera to capture a few of our best finds.