Carolina birder video bombed

out natcornCarolina birder Matt Daw from Raleigh was videoing a least bittern last week as it foraged at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. In an interview, Daw said he was looking through the viewfinder at the bittern when suddenly an interloper sauntered by behind the bittern.

Audobon Society, here I come

Maybe someone heard my plea.

For the last two weekends, the rain, for the most part, has stayed away, giving us at least one nice day without a drop to enjoy some time outdoors. And after having my first attempt to go birding cancelled because of the weather, I was looking forward Saturday to finding out why others enjoyed the hobby so much.

A hangover of hoverers

out natcornAs we turn to bask in the full glow of the summer sun, mornings begin to heat up quickly. As they heat, they become quieter. 

A record-breaking weekend of birding

out natcornLast week, we set the stage for the 29th annual Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition (GSMBE). The group starts at 9 a.m. at George and Elizabeth Ellison’s office/studio in downtown Bryson City. I know, birders out there are rolling their eyes — to start a count at 9 a.m. is like missing half the day, but there are caveats.

Identifying birds

backthenAlthough bird identification can be perplexing — baffling at times for even the most accomplished birders — the principles of identification are relatively simple. We recognize birds by their visual appearances and by their vocalizations.

A record-breaking weekend (part one)

out natcornWhat could be more fun than a weekend of fellowship and great birding? Maybe setting a new record for total number of species recorded during the annual Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition? 

Some scarlet tanagers are orange

mtnvoicesLast Saturday, I led a bird identification workshop for the Smoky Mountain Field School. We started out in the morning in a residential area (Minot Park) in Gatlinburg and worked our way into the higher elevations of the national park by late afternoon. The weather at Newfound Gap was perfectly awful: wind, rain, fog, cold, you name it. But it was a good group and we did OK.

Cliff swallows return

mtn voicesThat’s the news. Our common breeding swallows have always been purple martins, barn swallows, and northern rough-winged swallows. To a lesser extent, tree swallows also breed here, where there are suitable tree cavities or boxes. Cliff swallows are another matter. 

Homecoming

out natcornThe blue-headed vireo sang to me of spring sometime around the first week of April. Blue-headeds are generally the last “non-resident” songbird we hear in the fall (sometimes into November) and the first we hear in the spring — probably due to the fact that many overwinter in the warmer climes of the Southeast.

The blue-grey gnatcatcher is a mighty mite

backthenElizabeth and I were sitting on the deck Monday evening when a tiny bird made an abbreviated appearance — apparently just to check us out — and disappeared. It took only a fleeting glimpse for us to know that our visitor had been a blue-gray gnatcatcher. There is, after all, nothing else in the avifauna of the Smokies region quite like the mighty mite. It’s a bird you’ll enjoy knowing once you learn its basic characteristics. 

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.