Hickory Field Trip Schedule and Descriptions
New trip added: Camp Harrison (Trip 27)
|Friday, September 18
||Saturday, September 19
|Trip #24|| Rocky Face Recreation Area 7:00|
|Trip #25|| Ridge Junction: Blue Ridge Parkway 5:00|
|Trip #26|| Linville Gorge Wilderness Area 6:30|
Fall Meeting Planning Notes
The times listed above are when the cars are lined up
in the parking lot and leaving. Please be there at least
10 minutes early and identify yourself to the leader. If
you decide not to go on a trip, either scratch through
your name beforehand on the supplied lists at the registration table, or show up at the meeting place and
All trips depart from the La Quinta Inn and Suites
Hickory from the lobby and the parking lot. Look for
the placard with your trip number. You will receive a
sheet with all directions for your trips in your registration packet.
Please bring it on each trip as caravans sometimes break down, and, if so, you'll still be
able to get to the birding site. Get the leader's cell
number before you leave, just in case.
Food for purchase during field trips may be somewhat
limited. Accordingly, plan to take snacks and beverages with you, and be sure to pack a lunch for the all day
We try to take as few vehicles as possible on field trips
in order to save fuel, make caravanning easier, and to
make better use of the limited parking that exists at
some stops. Please plan on carpooling.
Hickory Meeting Field Trip Descriptions
- Trips 1 & 14: Riverbend County Park
This is a 450-acre passive park operated by Catawba County. With its
mile of shoreline along the Catawba River, it is a wonderful place to
see fall migrants. There have been 190 species seen at Riverbend Park so
far! We will expect to find lots of warblers, vireos and flycatchers.
Olive-sided Flycatchers have been spotted during fall in past years near
the park office, and a pair of Bald Eagles nest nearby and fly over
often. It will be a relatively easy hike along the River Trail, and
depending on time, we may return to the parking lot through a stand of
mature American Beech to look for more migrants.
- Trips 2 & 15: Bakers Mountain County Park
Standing high above the Catawba Valley at 1,780 feet, Bakers Mountain
Park offers some of the best bird watching in the Piedmont. The mountain
is a beacon for migrating songbirds because of its height above the
surrounding landscape and the amount of forest cover. The best part is
that you do not even have to leave the parking area to see beautiful and
breathtaking birds like the Black-throated Blue Warbler, Scarlet
Tanager, Hooded Warbler and many others! The park covers 189 acres on
the north side of Bakers Mountain and is operated by Catawba County. We
will look for migrating raptors from the observation platform located
near the top of the mountain. Golden Eagles have been seen several times
during the fall, along with hundreds of Broad-winged Hawks!
- Trips 3, 9, 16 & 22: Hickory City Parks
Glenn R. Hilton Park is a 59.5-acre park operated by the City of Hickory
and can be one of the best birding spots in the area. Twenty-two warbler
species have been seen in a single day in late September after the
passing of a cold front. We will hope for something like Connecticut,
Cerulean, Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Nashville, or Wilson's Warbler.
The boardwalk trail is often a great spot for viewing migrating
songbirds, wading birds, and raptors. At the furthest point on the loop
is an observation platform adjacent to a cove of Lake Hickory. We will
also bird along an adjacent bikeway between Hickory City and Geitner
Parks. This will be an easy walk and most of it is ADA accessible.
- Trips 4, 8, 17 & 21: Wagner Property
This is, easily, one of the best birding spots in our area.
Located in Happy Valley, NC, the private property will be generously opened up
to us again for the CBC meeting.
The property consists of an old pea
gravel mining operation and has wetlands galore in several stages of
growth. This is also a great spot to find shorebirds! Greater and Lesser
Yellowlegs and others are regular visitors. White-crowned Sparrow,
Swainson's Warbler, American Bittern, and American Woodcock have all
been seen in recent falls. This will be a relatively easy walk, although
parts of it may be through tall grass.
- Trips 5, 10, 18 & 23: Lenoir Greenway
The Lenoir Greenway includes 7 miles of paved trails, spreading over 25
acres of land. The greenway passes through a variety of habitats,
ranging from streamside bottomlands to open fields to early successional
growth. We will look for migrating songbirds along the streamside
section and should see a good variety of warblers, vireos, and tanagers!
We will also stop at Parkway Bank in Lenoir to visit the Foothills Bird
Club's official hawk watch location. Last year, in one day, over 10,000
Broad-winged Hawks were counted as they passed over this location! This
will be an easy walk and is ADA accessible.
- Trips 6 & 19: Catawba River Greenway
The Catawba River and Freedom Trail Greenways are paved trails that
follow more than 4 linear miles of the Catawba River in Morganton and
encompass more than 250 acres of land. This is a beautiful area near the
headwaters of the river, and we should see lots of warblers and vireos.
Blue-headed, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, Philadelphia, and White-eyed
Vireos have all been seen here in the fall. Waterfowl are also a
possibility. This is an easy walk and is ADA accessible.
- Trips 7 & 20: Murray's Mill Historic Site
A 10-minute drive from I-40, the Murray's Mill Historic District, in the
rolling countryside of eastern Catawba County, nestles just as it was a
century ago along the banks of Balls Creek. The millpond and surrounding
area make for a great backdrop to go birding during fall migration. The
large millpond is a great place to scope out waterfowl, and the
adjoining riparian areas scattered around mixed hardwood deciduous
forests can be great places to search for fall migrants.
- Trips 11 & 24: Rocky Face Recreation Area
Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area has a rich history dating back to
the early 1900s. The site was a former quarry operation that began in
1922, with operations ceasing in the early 1940s. There have also been
agricultural uses such as apple and peach orchards, wheat fields, and
vineyards near the site. In 2003, the North Carolina Natural Heritage
Program signed an agreement that put Rocky Face Mountain on the North
Carolina Registry of Natural Heritage Areas because of its unique
qualities. Today, the former rock quarry area includes a paved ADA
walking track as well as picnic shelter, restrooms, and park office. The
quarry area features a sheer cliff face that is attractive to migrating
raptors. Outside the quarry area, the park includes 5 miles of hiking
trails that takes hikers along the top of the quarry cliffs and to the
mountain peak. The trail also features various markers depicting some of
the rare plants that are located at the park. This trip will include
birdwatching as well as exploring the location's unique flora and
non-avian fauna. Migrating raptors, dragonflies and butterflies are a
The hike to the top of Rocky Face is a strenuous hike up pretty steep terrain to the summit.
- Trips 12 & 25: Ridge Junction
Birding from a chair. No kidding!!! While the predawn drive to this
scenic overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway may not be everyone's cup of
tea, the continuous stream of birds and a sunrise that takes one's
breath should be worth it! We will leave the hotel at 5 a.m. in order to
be in place when the sun rises and the drama begins. (At this early
hour, we have a chance at seeing a Black Bear while driving up the
Parkway!) Situated at a unique spot in the Black Mountains, Ridge
Junction Overlook is the “low” point in the “J” shaped chain and acts as
a funnel for southbound migrants. On good days, there could be several
hundred migrants seen in small groups making their way through the tree
line, all visible from your chair. On great days—well, let's just
say it will knock your socks off! We will have lunch in the restaurant
at Mt. Mitchell State Park and look for Red Crossbills while we are
there. We will then return via Curtis Creek Road to look for more
- Trip 13: Boone and the High Country
This trip will focus on some of the less “touristy” parts of the High
Country. We will drive through the high-elevation grasslands on Rich
Mountain to look for Vesper and Savannah Sparrows before turning our
attention to Valle Crucis Park. This small park provides great birding
opportunities along the Watauga River and in small wetlands near a pond.
Orchard and Baltimore Orioles and Black-billed Cuckoos will be on our
watch list. We will explore several other spots before returning to
- Trip 26: Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
The Linville Falls area can be a great birding spot in fall. There are
two main trails at Linville Falls; each starts at the visitor center and
provides birding opportunities and views of the waterfalls. A variety of
birds, including Osprey, Belted Kingfisher and Wood Duck, may be seen
along the river. Along the trails, watch for Blackburnian,
Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Hooded and Black-and-white
Warblers, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, Dark-eyed
Junco, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Scarlet
Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Red Crossbill and Swainson's
Warbler have been observed along the gorge, and Peregrine Falcon nest
nearby. Several locations along this route will be great vantage points
for watching migrating hawks as well. We will be birding around the
Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, making several stops in a variety of
- Trip 27: Camp Harrison
This will be an all-day trip that will depart at 7:00
and begin with a stop along the Lenoir Greenway for migrant songbirds and other passerines,
and will conclude with a visit to Camp Harrison in Boomer.
Participants will visit the lake briefly to look for shorebirds and any other migrants that might be present.
Afterwards folks will hike up Herring Ridge on a moderately-difficult 1/2 mile trail
to an an overlook area where the focus will be migrant raptors,
primarily kettling Broad-winged Hawks.
Folks should pack a lunch, wear sturdy footwear suitable for traversing uneven terrain,
and bring along their preferred sun protection methods as observation will take place on a west-facing slope.