Sunday, October 7, 2012

Carolina Bird Clubbing in Greenville, SC

Last weekend I went down to Greenville, SC to lead a couple field trips for the Carolina Bird Club's fall meeting.  Many migrants follow in Blue Ridge on their way south and I was hoping to find lots of birds bound for the tropics to show to my groups. 

Friday I led a dozen birders around parts of Pickens County, situated in the foothills of the Appalachians near the southern tip of their range.  We began at the Nine Times Preserve, a large swath of mountainside forest owned by The Nature Conservancy, and worked our way up to Sassafrass Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina (a modest 3,800 feet above sea level).
Cape May Warbler

Warblers were actually more scarce than I had expected, with this Cape May being one nice exception.  Over the course of a couple days we were able to identify 11 parulids, which isn't bad, but not something I can really brag about on a blog.

Thrushes made a very strong showing, with swarms of Wood and Swainson's covering various fruiting trees with the odd Veery or Gray-cheeked mixed in.  They were joined by other frugivores such as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Scarlet Tanagers...

Scarlet Tanager

...both of which were about as abundant as I have ever seen.

But the group that we did best with was surely the vireos...
Yellow-throated Vireo

On both days we found the four most likely species: Red-eyed, Blue-headed, Yellow-throated, White-eyed.  And on Friday along a stream behind a church we found the coveted Philadelphia Vireo:

Philadelphia Vireo

 It was my first for the United States and my first ever five vireo day!

After a Saturday morning at Table Rock State Park, we finally took a break from pishing up passerines and drove up to Caesar's Head for a hawk watch. 


We scored 60 or so Broad-winged Hawks plus a few Red-Tails and accipiters over the course of a couple hours.  It was quite a spectacle watching the hawks appear out of nowhere and spiral up into the sky, but I can only imagine what it's like on one of the 1000+ hawk days!

Check out Nate Swick's account of hawk-watching at Caesar's Head on 10,000 birds (he led a CBC field trip to Caesar's Head the day before me).

A big thanks to Jeff Click for inviting me down to lead, to Irvin Pitts for organizing a fantastic meeting, and to all my participants for being such great and gracious companions.  Hope to see some of y'all again next time!


  1. Looks like an exceptional escapade. Nice photos too.
    A 5 Vireo day...that's some viral birding right there.

    1. Thanks Laurence!

      "Viral birding?!?!"

      Sounds dangerous.

      I hope everyone in my group went home healthy except for an exacerbation of the "birding bug."

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  2. Enjoyed your CBC presentation Saturday night...

    John Ennis

  3. The Yellow-throated Vireo is harmonious to the ear.

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