This past April we were so thrilled to host our first Reader Rendezvous for Bird Watcher’s Digest! This 5-day tour was supposed to happen in 2020, but I think you can guess what happened.
The tour began Thursday, April 22nd and concluded on Monday, April 26th. The group consisted of 13 participants, Wendy Clark and Kelly Ball from Bird Watcher’s Digest and four of their guests. Simon was with the group every day and Aaron and Kevin helped guide the group too.
Our Rendezvous began with a Birds of the Blue Ridge presentation at the hotel and dinner by 12 Bones Barbeque – an Asheville Favorite!
The next day it was up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for high elevation birds. We began at the Folk Art Center where we saw Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireos, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Orange-crowned Warbler.
Up on the Parkway we found Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Worm-eating, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Hooded and Blackburnian Warblers.
We then enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch prepared by Chris Jaquette.
In the afternoon half the group went to check out Highland Brewing, Asheville’s very first brewery, and in the evening we all enjoyed a delicious dinner at the famed Grove Park Inn.
The next day we headed to Henderson County, but unfortunately it rained all day! After a few wet hours at Jackson Park with looks at Blue-winged Teal, Solitary Sandpiper, and Blackpoll Warbler, we headed over to Mills River Park where we found Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Tree, Barn and Cliff Swallow.
By this time we were all sick of the rain so we went to plan B, which was having our “picnic” lunch back at the hotel along with a Birding by Ear Presentation by Kevin.
By dinner time the rain stopped and everyone enjoyed a visit to Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard.
On Sunday we briefly visited Lake Julian Park where we found Osprey, Bald Eagle, Common Loon, Greater White-fronted Goose and Northern Waterthrush.
The majority of the day was spent at the Biltmore Estate. Just about everyone enjoyed touring this largest privately owned home in America, though a few opted to bird instead. Our best birds here were Red-breasted Nuthatch, Yellow Warbler and Brewer’s Blackbird. We had a delicious lunch on the Estate at the Stable Cafe.
Dinner was at a local favorite, White Duck Taco.
Finally, we concluded the Rendezvous with a visit to Beaver Lake in Asheville, where we had Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Osprey, Palm and Yellow-throated Warblers.
We really enjoyed hosting a Reader Rendezvous here in Asheville and we look forward to doing more events with Bird Watchers Digest!