As the colder north winds pick up and the last of the warblers depart, many local birders tend to start planning fewer outings - understandable of course, as once migration winds down, there are fewer birds to be seen. Though most of the warblers and other summer residents will have departed, early November has offered much in the way of surprises, and the birding can, at times, be spectacular. Late fall has produced some incredible sightings for our area, and over the last few years alone local birders have stumbled upon such rarities as Sage Thrasher, Bell’s Vireo, and American Tree Sparrow, just to name a few – and all in Buncombe County.
This trip will focus on finding any and all birds of interest that might be around, and a longer run-time will allow us to cover a lot of ground (if necessary). Our exact itinerary will depend on what’s being seen and where, but we will mainly be visiting sites in Buncombe county and perhaps Henderson, Transylvania or Haywood Counties, focusing our efforts on those hotspots where many of the goodies have shown up in recent years. The fields of Warren Wilson College will be a must stop – in previous years we’ve had Baird’s Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Lark Sparrow show up at the same time, plus a Surf Scoter at nearby Owen Park! There may even still be Lincoln’s Sparrows around (an annual, uncommon migrant) and the more usual American Pipits should be present. Lake Julian may also be worth a check – Black Scoters showed up in 2018, and you never know when a Tundra Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, or Herring Gull might drop in. Hooper Lane has of course contributed many excellent sightings over the years, and if we are lucky we may find a Lapland Longspur, Brewer’s Blackbird, or maybe even Short-eared Owl or Rough-legged Hawk. Even if luck is not on our side with the rarities, we should be able to find a good enough selection of sparrows, raptors, and ducks during the day to keep us entertained.
Our itinerary is unknown, as are the birds that will be around – but that’s just part of the fun!