Friday, June 30, 2017

Birding on Roan Mountain, Carter County, Tennessee

Tennessee is lucky in geography for birding. Being 400 miles from one end to the other we form a long fence for bird life to fly over whether migrating north or south or just deciding to stay for the winter or summer.

At the west end, at the lowest elevation is Memphis and the birding areas along the river from below Memphis, in the back water of the Mississippi, to Reelfoot Lake in the northwest corner. At our end is the Roan Mountain massif. It is a fair day’s drive from here to Memphis. At the Rhododendron Gardens you have vista to the east that is as good as any.

In between is “middle” Tennessee with plateau, mountains, rivers, small farms, rolling hills, and lovely scenery. Tennessee is noted for it’s river systems that feed the French Broad, the Tennessee, and eventually the Ohio. The Cumberland Plateau is halfway between Knoxville and Nashville extends from the Kentucky to Georgia.

We usually bird from Carver’s Gap, where you can park and access the Appalachian Trail. Southbound on the AT takes you to Roan High Knob through fir and balsam forests that are aromatic, dark, and lovely. Northbound takes you out onto the balds, the clearings that afford a view to either side and up and down the trail. It is nothing short of magnificent. As someone said the other day, “This is the most beautiful place to bird.” Amen.

In this picture, we’re northbound on the trail from Carver’s Gap, looking northerly for Vesper sparrow. It rained that day just as we got back to the car. Still, be sure to take your sunscreen.

You might note that we are standing on the trail. The deck is large gravel through this part, easy walking, a day hiker’s delight.

Take a lunch. Walk out to the overlook. All that forest land is pretty much out of production so that which we enjoy needs our protection. The view is not free. Enjoy the gardens but be sure to pay your fee.

Individual birders in Carter County annually report over 200 species. There are 70 years of consistent sightings. The most recent count (Twenty-fourth Annual Carter County Count) caught 123 species. Not just on the Roan, of course, but Holston Mountain, the Blue Hole, Stoney Creek, TVA Watauga Lake, Wilbur Lake, the Doe River Gorge, Twin Spring, Hampton Creek Cove, and Sycamore Shoals State Park. From 6,200 feet to 1,400 feet. That’s as good as the Smokies and that has some of the best birding in the world.


Post a Comment

Comments welcome. Use the "anonymous" profile. Thanks.

<< Home