A tour of local birding hotspots around the Raleigh area. Some of these are larger, well-known locations but others-- not so much! We will visit a variety of habitat from ponds and marsh to open fields as well as mixed woodland. The terrain will be fairly flat but we will do a good bit of walking so be sure to wear comfortable footwear.
Our day will begin at Crabtree Park. First, we will walk some of the park trails in search of a mix of wet woodland species such as Winter Wren, Hairy Woodpecker, Swamp Sparrow and hopefully Brown Creeper. Keeping an eye to the sky, we could very well spot a Bald Eagle or two which not only hunt here regularly year round but have attempted to nest more than once. Next we will explore the lake for waterbirds. This good-sized impounded section of Crabtree Creek can hold an array of wintering waterfowl such as Wood Ducks, Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Ducks, and Ring-necked Ducks. Sometimes a Great Egret can be found in addition to the numerous Great Blue Herons that forage in the shallows.
We will then make our way south to the open habitat associated with NC State’s agricultural experimental farming units adjacent to Lake Wheeler. Scanning the fields the group should get views of Eastern Bluebirds, Horned Larks, Savannah Sparrows and hopefully Loggerhead Shrike. Also a Peregrine Falcon has been observed in this area for a number of winters. We will be sure to check the significant flock of Canada Geese that linger around the farm ponds here-- just in case another species of goose such as a Cackling or Greater White-fronted is mixed in. If there is time, we’ll swing by the nearby historic Yates Mill Pond in search of more waterfowl and marsh species such as Common Yellowthroat, Fox Sparrow and maybe some Rusty Blackbirds.
The group will then work south and west to Harris Lake which is adjacent to the nuclear plant not far off of US Route 1. Among other things, gull numbers should be high here. This will give us the opportunity to spend some time studying an assortment of Ring-billed and Bonaparte’s Gulls of different ages. With luck we should be able to tease out a few Herring Gulls and maybe a Black-backed or two.
And last but not least, we hope to work in a stop to view a winter hummingbird at a local feeder.