Elk Knob State Park

Elk Knob State Park

Gail and I went with our Forsyth County Audubon bird group to Elk Knob State Park in the North Carolina mountains. We went specifically to look for the Golden-winged Warbler. We were in the right spot, hearing our target warbler on several occasions. But we never quite laid eyes on one. We did see or hear several other warblers, too, including Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, and Common Yellowthroat. Other fun mountain birds included Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, and Veery. All told, we finished with 24 species, which is not a big day as far as counts go, but it was a FUN day! We had a nice group on a nice day at a beautiful place!

Here is a pic Gail took of the Chestnut-sided Warbler:

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Indigo Buntings are always cool to see:

Indigo Bunting

Then we decided to take a hike all the way to the top of Elk Knob, an elevation of 5,520 feet.

We encountered this deer along the way. She stayed surprisingly close for quite a while. I wonder if she wasn’t protecting a little one somewhere close by.

at Elk Knob

And at the top, we were rewarded with these amazing views!

Princess Gail at Elk Knob State Park

Gail at Elk Knob

Man, did we get a workout, too! According to our FitBits, we finished with over 15,000 steps, or about 7.5 mountain miles, and credit for 111 flights of stairs!

We are so grateful to be able to enjoy things like this. I hope we can keep doing it for a very long time! :-)

view from Elk Knob

First Backyard Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Despite the blizzard conditions up north this year, we had not had a flake of snow until today. We are having a few flakes now. Cold weather and snow bring the birds out to our feeders. Among our many visitors today, of 21 species, we saw our first backyard Ruby-crowned Kinglet!

Not the sharpest picture, but the one that shows the ruby crown best:

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Eastern Bluebirds:

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A Carolina Chickadee, a Brown-headed Nuthatch, and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet:

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The Nuthatch and the Kinglet:

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A Downy Woodpecker:

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From the top down, an Eastern Bluebird, a Dark-eyed Junco, a Pine Warbler, and a Carolina Wren:

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Great bird-time at our house today! 😀

Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Oriole is an uncommon visitor to Forsyth County, NC. So we are always excited to see one. This is our first sighting of this beautiful bird in our neighborhood. I spotted the flash of orange early this morning while going out to get the morning newspaper. I had to wake Gail up to share the experience! The Oriole was perched at the very top of a majestic White Oak. He posed long enough for a few pictures, somewhat blurry because of the distance, but clear enough for confirmation. How fun! :-)

Baltimore Oriole 1

Baltimore Oriole 2

Dickcissel

This week marks the first time the Dickcissel has ever been spotted in our home county, Forsyth County, North Carolina! Princess Gail and I were lucky enough to still find it this afternoon, several days after the initial spotting, thanks to Craig McCleary of our Audubon group.

Here are some of Gail’s pictures from this afternoon:

Dickcissel 1 Dickcissel 2 Dickcissel 6 Dickcissel 7 Dickcissel 3 Dickcissel 4 Dickcissel 5