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:
Indigo Buntings are always cool to see:
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.
And at the top, we were rewarded with these amazing views!
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! 🙂
On the previous post I wrote about our little day trip south of Kill Devil Hills, along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, all the way down to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This post is about our day trip on the following day, this time north all the way to Corolla and the Currituck Sound. On our way we passed the beautiful little town of Duck, NC. Duck is arguably the fanciest and prettiest residential part of all the Outer Banks.
A very special part of this day was a planned meet-up with a fellow blogger I have known for several years. We had known each other only through our mutual online community of bloggers, and this real life meeting proved to be a memorable treat! Katherine, writer of the Shoot Me Now blog, and her beautiful daughter Elizabeth, were our guides for this part of our explorations, as Corolla, NC is their long-time, beloved home away from home.
First they proudly showed us around the beautiful Whalehead Club and told us of its interesting history.
During our recent trip to the Outer Banks, we spent a day going south from Kill Devil Hills, along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, to the Hatteras Lighthouse. Our primary destination was the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, one of the prime birding spots in the USA. The weather conditions included 12 MPH NE winds with gusts to 30MPH, which virtually eliminated the chance of spotting migrant songbirds, our main goal. But we were more than satisfied with what we did see.
We saw a huge number of Tricolored Herons and White Ibis.
We were fortunate to see this Audubon’s Shearwater.
We had two target birds when we set out on this expedition. We wanted to see our first Black-necked Stilt and American Avocet. We succeeded on both counts!
The Black-necked Stilt:
After a few hours of enjoyable hikes, views and birding, we proceeded to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in North America.
It was fun climbing to the top!
We lucked out at the top. The high winds had closed the observation tower, but slowed just enough as we got there to allow us out. Here is a view, without hat as it would have blown off!
On the way back, we stopped at the Bodie Island Lighthouse and we lucked out again! Not only did we get to walk outside on the observation tower, we were among the first to see the four-year restoration and the actual lighthouse lens.
It was a great day on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of the OBX – The Outer Banks, NC.
Finally, after living in North Carolina for four years, Princess Gail got to see the Outer Banks! We used our few days to the best advantage!
Our room was a nice surprise. We had made reservations only a few weeks ahead of time, so our rental choices were limited. We stayed at an older hotel in Kill Devil Hills, but our 5th floor room had a glorious ocean view!
Everyone knows the OBX is a great place for watching the sunrise. This photo from our room’s balcony shows that our sunsets were beautiful, too, despite the definite fall chill in the air and the very stiff winds.
The Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills was a short walk from our hotel. The newer boards on the pier were evidence of the damage and repair after last year’s Hurricane Sandy.
Besides enjoying our dramatically lovely surroundings, we are of course always aware of the birds around us. We won’t talk about the usual gulls and sandpipers (though telling apart the numerous species is still a challenge), or the evil Boat-tailed Grackles like this one,
but there were interesting birdy moments right from our balcony, like these Brown Pelicans coming…
… and going!
Most people come the the OBX for the beach life, and that is just fine! But when Gail and I travel, we like exploring as many local habitats as we can, always looking for different birds. Just a few blocks from our hotel was the Nag’s Head Nature Conservancy. Beautiful!
And besides all the bird stuff, in the same general area is the Wight Brothers National Memorial. I think because we are from Ohio and live in North Carolina, we felt a special awe and pride as we learned the details of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s great work. If you are ever in the OBX, a visit to this memorial is a must!
A few short miles south, in Nag’s Head, is Jockey’s Ridge State Park. It is the site of the tallest dune system on the east coast, at about 90 to 100 feet. At the base of the dunes is a habitat of maritime thicket consisting of live oaks, persimmons, red cedar, wax myrtle, bayberry, sweet gum, red oaks, and pines. To the east is the Roanoke Sound, providing the park with an estuary habitat.
Gail was like a kid, climbing and enjoying the dunes! 🙂
She gave her bum hip a pretty good workout!
We spotted a flock of about 200 Tree Swallows, at the peak of their southward migration.
In the thickets, we saw a Nashville Warbler, and this sneaky Pine Warbler.
As you can see, the area right around Kill Devil Hills, Nag’s Head and Kitty Hawk is chock full of fun and interesting stuff! But the goal of this visit was to see as much of the OBX as we could in two and a half short days. In Part 2 I’ll talk about our day trip south to Pea Island and Hatteras, and then in Part 3 I’ll talk about our trip north to Corolla/Currituck and a special visit to a great friend! 🙂
Princess Gail and I spent a beautiful fall morning at Pilot Mountain State Park. We spotted 15 bird species, including the ever present Pine Warbler, and lots of Blue Jays (a group of 4 and then a group of 10.) Here are the birds of the day:
A Scarlet Tanager (probably female vs winter male)…
a Red-breasted Nuthatch…
and a Broad-winged Hawk.
It was a fun time! Wish you could have joined us! 🙂