Habitats: Old second growth deciduous oak-hickory hardwood forest interspersed with stands of mature red cedar, meadow, and streamside under growth.
Key birds: Summer: Scarlet Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Indigo Bunting. Winter: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated and Chipping Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Junco. Year-round: Eastern Phoebe, Pileated, Red-bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, and Song Sparrow.
Best times to bird: Year-round.
Description: Cedarock is a little-known gem in the Piedmont. This park in the southwestern corner of Alamance County is one of the best examples anywhere of how outdoor recreation interests can be balanced with preservation of historic sites and restoration of natural habitats. The park consists of more than 400 acres of mostly wooded land that also includes meadows, old farm fields, and a meandering creek. Several farm houses and out buildings dating to the Civil War and before have been preserved. Remains of a gristmill from the 1700s can be seen along Rock Creek, which bisects the property. The varied habitats offer plenty of opportunities for birding.
Directions: Take Exit 145 from I-40 and drive south on NC Highway 49 about six miles. Turn left on Friendship-Patterson Mill Road and go about 0.2 of a mile to Cedarock Park Road. Turn left and proceed 0.6 mile to the park entrance.
Birding Highlights: Walking along the edge of the fields and woods is a good way to see a nice selection of open country species. The entrance road and adjacent meadows provide this type of edge habitat. Eastern Bluebirds are abundant and Indigo Buntings often can be seen in the fields. Eastern Meadowlarks can be seen and heard in the grassy meadows. In addition, many of the typical eastern woodland and forest edge bird species can be seen along the woodland edges.
In spring and summer Scarlet Tanager and other neotropical species may be seen from paths through the woodlands. One nice loop begins behind the park office, crosses the creek, and runs through woodlands past the old millpond. Check the trees and undergrowth in this area for sparrows, Brown Thrasher, and Eastern Towhee. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers nest here and an Eastern Phoebe sometimes may be seen hawking insects over the creek. The trail continues through the wooded tent camping area and back to the park road near shelter 3 and the restrooms. Watch and listen for Pileated, Red-bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers throughout the year and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in fall and winter.
A longer woodland walk may be taken along the equestrian trail that circumnavigates most of the park, but be aware of riders that may appear suddenly on the path.
General Information: The Park is open from dawn until dusk. The park office is in one of the old farmhouses at the end of the park road. A map of the park may be obtained here, but even without a map, a birder should have no trouble finding interesting hiking and nature trails to explore. Drinking water and restrooms are available in the park.
DeLorme map grid: page 38, B3
North Carolina Travel Map grid: G2
For more information: Alamance County Parks and Recreation Department, (336) 570-6760; http://www.alamance-nc.com/Alamance-NC/Departments/Recreation/Parks/Cedarock/