Friday, May 20, 2016

Carver’s Gap and Hampton Creek Cove, May 2016

Tuesday, May 17, the four of us tramped Hampton Creek Cover in search of blue-winged warbler and a few other warblers. We got amongst others, turkey, alder flycatcher, chestnut sided warbler, indigo bunting, common yellow throat warbler, chimney swifts, and a blue-winged warbler.

The day was heavy overcast with occasional drizzle. The grass in the cove was wet, the steams up a bit, and bridges uneasily slippery. But, worth it. Jim Anderson and Roy Knispel bemoaned that they’d left their cameras in the car out of the rain. We did get some really good looks through the drizzle. Maybe the birds had been camera shy?

For lunch we dined amongst the clouds at Carver’s Gap, on the Tennessee and North Carolina state line. Carvers’ Gap has changed a bit since I was last at the gap many years ago. The brush has been cut back, most of the timber fencing gone, and any remaining fence in slightly less than picturesque shape. For such a crummy day there were people hiking the trail and some going/coming to camp along the trail.

 But, still, the gap is hard to beat. Clouds swirl in. The air temperature plummets. A silence ensues. A blue-headed vireo stubbornly calls. Maybe a raven zooms by. The sun comes out again. The balsam smell delicious.

 On sunny days, you can look northbound (but not north) and see the copse of pines up on Jane Bald against a deep blue sky. The old trail northbound was a deep rut so the AT people rerouted both sides from the gap.

When I first came up to Carver’s Gap in the early 80s, on a Sunday, I would watch folks in their Sunday best sort of take the air and enjoy the scenery along the gap side of the bald.

Rising behind us was the heavily forested Roan Mountain home of juncos and raven and red-breasted nuthatch. Juncos abound, easily identified by their white outer tail feathers. The red-breasted nuthatch called a “yank, yank” as it worked it way up and down the balsam and fir trees, usually upside down.

 There is a toilet at the parking lot at Carver’s Gap. Bring you own toilet paper!


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