Blue Ridge Birding!

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There are many birding spots in the Blue Ridge, really too many to count. I am just going to name a few of my favorites. I am a fairly serious birder, but not really hard core. I look for Life birds just because I want to see them, not for a list. Here are some good bird spots!

Jackson Park, Hendersonville

Jackson Park can be found by  taking I-26 to the Hendersonville exit on to US 64. Go toward Hendersonville (west) until you see the sign for Jackson Park. Follow the sign into Jackson Park until you find the nature trail. The nature trail is about a 1 mile loop that takes you through a somewhat human changed wetland that is a wonderful place for birding in  the Winter and early Spring. All species of Eastern Warblers have been seen here except for Bachmann's and Kirkland's Warblers.

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary in Asheville

This great place can be found by taking Merrimon Avenue (US-25) North  until you pass the Ingles store on the right. Begin to look on your left for the Park. There is a fine loop trail which takes you back to the lake through a very nice wetland that was formed from sediment buildup placed there by the feeder stream. Most of the Eastern species of Warbler have been found there, and several species of migratory waterfowl  may be seen in the Winter.

I was mistakenly calling it Audubon's Park, but it is Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, owned by the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society. I have been corrected on this many times, and now I hope I am correct.

By the way, I think there is a box placed there in order to make contributions; a good idea, as the place takes a lot of maintenance.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great place for birding all Summer, and many species of Warbler may be seen here in the early Spring migration. At almost any overlook in the Summer time it is almost certain that you can find an Indigo Bunting.

Lake Julian Park

Take the Skyland exit off  I-26 near Asheville. Go toward Skyland and watch for the sign for Lake Julian Park on your right. This lake is a cooling lake for Carolina Power and Light, so is quite warm even in the Winter. Many species of waterfowl can be seen here in the winter and early Spring. Bring a good scope, because they are pretty far out there sometimes!

Lake Junaluska near Waynesville

This lovely lake is located in a valley and surrounded by mountains on all sides. It is at the center of the Methodist conference center of the same name. It draws in some nice migrants, and often has a few wintering rarities. I found my first Bonaparte's Gull here a few years ago in early Spring. It also hosts Loons, Buffleheads, Ringnecked Ducks, and the walking trail is good for Warblers and other songbirds. I have seen Tree Swalows here, and suspect they may breed. There is a birding group, the Carolina Field Birders, who are located in this area and keep an eye on the lake; in the winter of 2002/03 they reported a pair of wintering Sandhill Cranes. Their group on Yahoo can be seen at CFB list's Yahoo Group . Lake Junaluska is named after the Cherokee Warrior Junaluska who lived in this area in the early 1800's. You can get there by taking US 19 off I-40 and following the signs. It is about 25 miles from the Tennessee line.

Mount Mitchell State Park

This is the highest peak in the Eastern US, even though folks from other places think Mt Washington is the highest. Not so. Washington is 6,288 feet, Mitchell is 6,684, and there are several other peaks in the Black Mountains that are nearly as high. Red Crossbills can be seen from the restaurant there, and Winter Wren can be seen singing near the summit. Occasionally a Hermit Thrush can be heard, though it is doubtful they breed. At the overlook at the junction of the park access road and the Parkway (Ridge Junction Overlook) folks gather in the Fall and Spring to watch the migrants moving past. Mount Mitchell is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville, and is a wonderful place to visit, even if you aren't a birder.

Price Lake

Price Lake is just a few miles south of Boone on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is one of the loveliest places on the Parkway, and has some good fishing too. There is a campground, part of which is right on the lake, and you can listen to Bullfrogs at night; on my honeymoon, we had one almost right in the camp site. Suzanne was wandering on the shore in the moonlight when he tuned up right next to her, and I thought I was going to have to perform CPR right there! No, she's not afraid of frogs, but a big old male Bullfrog cranking up next to you can startle you but good.
There is a lovely trail around the lake, an easy hike, and very birdy. There are other places around the lake to explore, and the scenery is achingly beautiful. Red Breasted Grosbeaks are here in the Spring, and I have seen Redstarts. Beavers have recently moved in, and there are some fine marshes upstream.



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