A fun day checking out local marshes and any fields that might be flooded from late summer rains. Be sure to wear shoes that can get muddy (or a change of shoes) and bring bug repellent, a sun hat, snacks, water and your lunch!
Late Summer can be full of surprises in Henderson County, Western North Carolina! With a little effort, it’s not hard to get up to 200+ species in one year in the County! Part of what makes that possible is a phenomenon known as Post Breeding Dispersal. Late July and through most of August brings wandering Mississippi Kites and the ever so beautiful Swallow-tailed Kite up towards the Mountains from their more Southern and Coastal breeding grounds. Here, they play, wander, grow-up and look for habitat and food. There are several areas that they tend to show up in the Mountains – so it’s possible that we too will wander to McDowell County, Transylvania County or Buncombe County to see these birds.
Not only do the Kites disperse, but so do the large wading birds. While we can never guarantee what we’ll see, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron and Great Blue Herons are fairly reliable this time of year. In past years, we’ve also seen Yellow-crowned Night Heron, White Ibis, and even Roseate Spoonbills! We’ll check out the local marshes for these birds – and any fields that might be flooded from late summer rains.
If we do get rains (and for some species, even if we don’t) it’s very likely we’ll also get to experience a nice Shorebird fallout. Shorebirds start their Southerly migration as early as July and continue through September and even beyond. Some of the best surprises have been Piping Plover, American Avocet, Baird’s Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Willet, Buff-breasted Sandpiper to name a few. Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are very reliable.
Along the way, we’ll also keep a lookout for early migrating warblers as they start to come down from the higher elevations and from North of us, to fatten up a bit and get ready for their long haul to Southerly territories.