Historic Yates Mill County Park
Habitats: Pine, mixed pine/hardwood, and upland oak-hickory forests, adjacent to agricultural farms and pastures surrounding a millpond.
Key birds: Summer: Prothonotary Warbler, Summer Tanager, Grasshopper Sparrow. Winter: Hooded Merganser and other waterfowl. Year-round: Wood Duck, Red-headed Woodpecker, waterfowl.
Best times to bird: Year-round.
Description: Historic Yates Mill County Park is a 574-acre ecological research area for North Carolina State University. The park includes Wake County's last remaining gristmill with an adjoining millpond. Yates Mill Pond was the historic center for Gray Squirrel and Wood Duck research at NC State. Dozens of duck nest boxes have been, and continue to be, maintained and monitored for productivity. Over the years hundreds of Wood Duck have fledged annually. Hooded Merganser also raise young on the pond. The site is in the process of transformation from a research center to a county park including the establishment of the A. E. Finley Center for Education and Research. The new Center will house modern research laboratories that will support environmental studies on the surrounding park as well as education facilities for school and community groups.
Directions: Historic Yates Mill County Park is located off Lake Wheeler Road in southern Wake County, south of the NC Farmers Market. From I-40 south of Raleigh, exit on Lake Wheeler Road (SR 1009), proceed south three miles past the NC State University research farms, and look for the entrance to the park on the right.
Birding Highlights: As of this writing the Park is in the process of transformation and it is uncertain what trails will be available for public use. In any case, access to the pond will be available and in the winter look for Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead and Ruddy Duck. Check the tops of pine trees for Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Northern Flicker. Watch bushes for White-throated, Song, Swamp, and Fox Sparrows.
Prothonotary and Yellow-throated Warblers, Gray Catbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, Grasshopper Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker and Yellow-billed Cuckoo all nest in the park. Wood Duck and their young become more visible in early summer. Look for Green Heron along the edges of the pond during the summer.
General Information: Historic Yates Mill County Park is scheduled to open in late 2005. No food or drinks are sold, but there are stores and restaurants within a few miles north of the site. Restroom facilities are available during business hours. After birding, be sure to visit historic Yates Mill, originally built in 1756, which is the only gristmill still standing in Wake County.
DeLorme map grid: page 40, C/D2
North Carolina Travel Map grid: H2
For more information: Yates Mill County Park Manager, 919-856-6675; http://www.wakegov.com/locations/yatesmill.htm