Greenville CBC Fall Birding Weekend in the Mountains
September 21–22, 2018—A Fall Color and Bird Migration Festival
By Lester Coble
Steve McInnisThis is from the amazing, great folks at Hilton Pond:
"The northwest corner of the state contains South Carolina's small but beautiful share of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, several state parks and adjoining lands lie at altitudes above 3,000 feet, providing nesting habitat for birds that otherwise are found much further north. The general area is called Mountain Bridge, a ridge-top region that starts along U.S. 11 at Jones Gap State Park and Sassafras Mountain and meanders west past Caesar's Head, Table Rock, and eventually to Oconee State Park. This is the only place in the state where Northern Ravens occur regularly—a species that seeks out the wilderness that abounds in this rugged mountain region. Caesar's Head, Sassafras Mountain, and the Walhalla Fish Hatchery are the only known South Carolina breeding sites for Dark-eyed Juncos—those northern "snowbirds" that occur commonly in winter at backyard feeders throughout the state. Red Crossbills, Chestnut-sided and Black-throated Blue warblers, and Sharp-shinned Hawks have also bred at Caesar's Head. Intensive summer field work in the Mountain Bridge region someday might confirm South Carolina nestings for Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and several warblers including Blackburnian, Blue-winged, Canada, Cerulean and Golden-winged.
With all this potential for new discoveries, it's no wonder serious birders spend a few days each summer at Mountain Bridge. Irvin Pitts (CBC Past-President), who did extensive field work with birds during his years as naturalist at Caesar's Head State Park, says the "whole Blue Ridge province is at the very southern edge of many species' ranges, so you never know what northern birds might be found breeding there. All in all, the South Carolina mountains are a fairly contiguous stretch of protected property, much of which is accessible to public birding."
Envision bridges from mountain top to mountain top, habitats starkly opposed to the sideslopes and valleys stretched between, where Dark-eyed Juncos, Summer Tanagers and Northern Waterthrushes seek their mates. Brisk mountain tops to swift flowing creeks, sunny and bright capped are these peaks, to shaded water courses, deep within narrow valleys, only capturing light in mid-day. The western United States is known for birds inhabiting limited elevations and vertical migration from mountain top zones to lower side slopes in winter. But did you know this also occurs in the eastern U.S.? There is much to learn about these variations to what we think when migration is mentioned. Late September is the time to seek out the bird life moving down these emblazoned fall-colored slopes, or moving on to South American “vacations.”.
It was 2012 when CBC held its last seasonal meeting at Greenville. This year's event takes place from our host hotel, the Greenville Marriott, 1 Parkway East, Greenville, South Carolina. Call for reservations at 864-297-0300. Check-in time is 3 PM and check-out noon. This is a valuable location at Exit #54 (Pelham Rd) on Interstate 85 allowing excellent access to the varied birding sites the Greenville County Bird Club has worked diligently with the CBC Board to obtain access. We owe them our gratitude. Exit 54 has numerous restaurants adjacent the hotel. Room rate has been negotiated $123/night. The cut-off date for the reduced rate of $123 plus taxes is August 31, 2018. Breakfast will be available 6 AM at a 20% discount to CBC participants.
Our speaker Friday evening will be Tim Lee, hawk watch coordinator at Caesars Head State Park. We will have a Hawk Watch each afternoon at Caesars Head which will complement his remarks and your newly learned or rediscovered raptor ID skills. Saturday night, after a buffet meal, we will hear from Dr. Drew Lanham, professor at Clemson University. Dr. Lanham is also a Board member with the American Birding Association and National Audubon Society.
The Friday evening business meeting, followed by the presentation will begin 7:00 P.M.
Saturday evening's Program activities begin 7:15 P.M. The Saturday evening dinner banquet is $35 per person. Please sign up for the buffet dinner on the CBC website if you complete your trip selections online.
All trips will leave from the hotel. It will be advantageous to stay at the Marriott, one of a only a few venues able to host our growing organization. Please reserve your room to thank them for their hospitality and assist CBC with this conference planning.
Be sure to visit the Conference Registration table as soon as you register at the hotel and sign in for the meeting. Your meeting packet will include a confirmed event schedule..