Middle Creek Bottomlands II
Key Birds: Summer: Great Crested Flycatcher, Prothonotary and Kentucky Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orchard Oriole, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Blue Grosbeak. Winter: Winter Wren, Brown Creeper. Year-round: Wood Duck, Red-headed Woodpecker.
Best times to bird: Year-round.
Description: The Middle Creek Bottomlands II was donated to the Triangle Land Conservancy in 2001 and comprises 160 acres. Much of the tract is a wetland complex, which is covered by varying proportions of buttonbush, alder, and black willow. The southern areas of the tract are covered by thick brush and are difficult to penetrate. The northern end has hardwoods with loblolly pine in patches. There are two areas of open water, one near the center of the tract that abuts Smith Road and a smaller one on the northern boundary. Smith Road bisects the tract. While there are no public trails on the tract good birding can be done along Smith Road.
Directions: From the intersection of I-40 and I-440 in southeast Raleigh, take I-40 east to exit 319, NC 210. Take route 210 east for 4.2 miles to the intersection with Smith Road. Turn left onto Smith Road. At 0.7 mile, you will cross the bridge over Middle Creek. This is the southern boundary of the tract. The northern boundary is the subdivision where the elevation begins to rise. You may park along Smith Road anywhere between Middle Creek and the subdivision. Pull entirely off the road being careful not to drive into the ditches.
Birding Highlights: The northern part of the tract, which includes most of the wooded areas, is excellent for Prothonotary and Yellow-throated Warblers, Northern Parula, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Acadian and Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Red-shouldered Hawk. You should be able to see at least some of these species, especially Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Prothonotary Warbler, though others may be too far from the road to see. The small area of open water on the northern edge of the tract, which is visible from the road through a narrow band of trees, sometimes harbors Wood Ducks.
Just south of the wooded area, on the west side of the road, is a section of more open swamp surrounding a black willow thicket. Look and listen for Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting and Eastern Bluebird. During migration, Northern Waterthrush are often found. Wood Ducks can sometimes be seen flying over this section. In winter, Swamp and Song Sparrows are numerous. Across the road is a narrow strip of woodland. During the winter check this area for Winter and Carolina Wrens, Hermit Thrush, Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Common Yellowthroat, Brown Creeper, and Hairy Woodpecker.
The open area in the center of the tract on the west side of the road is good for several other species. Great Blue and Green Herons forage in the pond. Great Egret are found in early spring and late summer. Check the edges for Red-winged Blackbird, Indigo Bunting and Red-headed Woodpecker. Watch for Red-shouldered Hawks overhead and Purple Martin and Barn Swallow over the water during the warmer months. In winter, Swamp and Song Sparrows and Eastern Phoebe can be found around the edge of the pond.
The southern part of the tract, between the beaver pond and Middle Creek, is overgrown with dense brush. Listen for Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Towhee, Orchard Oriole, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Along the creek, listen for a Yellow-throated Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, and Summer and Scarlet Tanagers.
General Information: Although anyone may bird along Smith Road, birders who wish to explore the tract away from the road should first contact the Triangle Land Conservancy. There are no restroom facilities. The nearest food and drinks are several miles away.
DeLorme map grid: page 62, A4
North Carolina Travel Map grid: H3
For more information: Triangle Land Conservancy, (919) 833-3662; http://www.tlc-nc.org/lands/tlc/middle_creek2_property.shtml