Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Unaka Mountain Auto Tour

We were originally going to visit the Big Bald Bird Banding Station up on the Appalachian Trail at Sam’s Gap, N.C./Tenn. Weather apparently interfered with stations ahead of this one being forced to delay their banding and so by Saturday morning we found ourselves not heading up the mountain.

Instead we partook in a very nice expedition of our own on the Unaka Mountain Auto Tour. This is only about fifteen miles long but it took us about six hours to drive it. We had six observers in two cars. The weather was gorgeous. The tour dives in and out the forests, up on the balds, out onto the overlooks, and marvel at the green hills of Tennessee stretched forever it felt. At least to North Carolina!

We had 51 species officially with a few perplexing misses. Like any outdoor adventure, some days are better than others.

I made a few notes of our sightings: red-eyed vireo, titmouse, black and white warbler, ovenbird, red-tailed hawk, hooded warbler, Canada warbler, towhee, chestnut-sided warbler, veery, indigo bunting, junco, broad-winged hawk, scarlet tanager, black-throated blue warbler, grey catbird, least flycatcher, Arcadian fly catcher, chimney swifts, winter wren, and a kinglet (species).

If the numbers seem slim for the time spent, they are. We had more than a few stops where nothing called and nothing responded to our calls. That happens. We did, however, pick up that many species in fifteen miles and about 2,500 feet elevation change.

No other hawks (and only two individuals). No vultures.

For information on the station try this link: If you are in the Unicoi, Tennessee area and want to try the Unaka Mountain Auto Tour visit the USFS station to obtain a map..


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