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Life Outdoors
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Winter Chill
by Curtis Smalling

Latest Update: August 13, 2018


Great-horned Owls are nesting right now.
It has been a while since the last update, but the winter chill and the arrival in our region of several interesting ducks on Lake Hickory have folks looking hard for everything from Long-tailed Duck to Common Mergansers to Common Goldeneye. The recent warm up this week may make it easier on birders to get out and see what else is out there. My best recent birds have been very reliable Red Crossbills at Bass lake, both down at the parking lot and up at the apple barn. My three recent hikes out there have turned up about 6 to 10 each time. Not many reports of other interesting things at our elevations, but it is nesting time for Great Horned Owl and Bald Eagle.

The weekly Wednesday bird walks at Valle Crucis Community Park will start back on Wednesday, April 4, and continue through mid-October. However, the leadership of the walks will change. Given recent changes in my health and most recently, changes in my role at Audubon North Carolina (now serving on the interim leadership team while a new Director is hired) and the demands of that added responsibility, I will have to step away from involvement in the Wednesday walks at Valle Crucis Park. Chapter volunteers did an amazing job of filling in last year (although actually filling in doesn’t do it justice, as I only did two walks after May last year). It has been an amazing 15 years or so of weekly walks and we have seen some great birds and amazing nests and behaviors. The Park is a wonderful asset and I hope we keep showing how great it is to folks young and old. My new role just takes too much time for me to commit every Wednesday morning in a meaningful way and is unfair to those who are stepping up to lead or showing up to walk. I appreciate more than I can say the friendship, conversation, and dedication of everyone has been one of the great joys of my life, and I hope to be able to get back to it at some point in the future. Thanks to everyone! For now, they will become High Country Audubon Society weekly bird walks, and HCAS volunteers will assume leadership of the walks. Please come join us every Wednesday starting on April 4 for Come Bird @ Valle Crucis Park, and invite others to come take part in the birding excitement there! See the High Country Audubon website at www.highcountryaudubon.org for lists of field trips and other programs.


Some sparrows are around still despite our recent cold snap. Photo by Steven Bullock


Belted Kingfishers are finding it hard to find open water but a few linger on the New River. Photo by Steven Bullock


Thank goodness for a splash of Cardinal color. Photo by Steven Bullock