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The County List calls

July 26, 2010

Counties in the Piedmont region of North Carolina line up like dominoes across the middle part of the map.  Tall and narrow, you can travel through many of them on a given drive, and unless you’re making an effort to get beyond the I-40 corridor (and why would you want to do that?) there’s little opportunity to pick up any birds beyond the half dozen regular roadside species.  That’s even pushing it perhaps, North Carolina’s pine stands that run right up to the very edge of the road, a trick of planners to make the area look more “natural” as there’s typically a housing development or a strip mall right on the other side, don’t correspond to good diversity with regard to highway birding, certainly as compared to wide open parts further west.  This is a situation noted even by visitors to the area.

So with the summer doldrums in full swing, and still a couple weeks away from shorebirds (and even then only if the heat pulls some water out of the reservoirs), the only thing I could realistically expect are the same 25 to 30 species of birds I’ve been seeing since mid-June.  Therefore, the only thing to do is to head to the next county over where those 25 species are brand new fantastical additions to the county list.  So I headed to Alamance County, just to the west of Chapel Hill, where I could rack up some numbers, even if they’re summer breeders.

I’d never heard of Cedarock Park before reading about it on the North Carolina Birding Trail, but I was impressed at well-manicured historical site that greeted me.  It had it all; campsites, playgrounds, hiking trails, not one but two disc golf courses and preserved Civil War era buildings appropriately fetishised in that manner I’ve always found bizarre for a region that overwhelmingly lost the war.  Piece that aspect of the regional psyche together and I think you’ve come a long way towards understanding some of the idiosyncrasies of the South.

In any case, what birds I found were overwhelmingly in the rough height of molt.  There were bald-headed Cardinals, Red-eyed Vireos that looked like they had mange, and even the Chickadees looked slightly blurry around the edges.

Breeding success was evident too.  Begging Vireos and Titmice and Cuckoos were around and seemingly ambivalent to keeping their whereabouts a mystery (though still hidden enough by leaves and branches to make photography frustratingly difficult). As I was leaving, having added as many birds as I was likely to before the wet July heat made being outside nearly unbearable, a family of squealing Chipping Sparrows in the gravel road.

Oh course, nearly all of those birds were new birds for Alamance County, doubling my total for the county and shooting it up the chart for my Carolina Century Club project.  Sure there was nothing out of the ordinary, but this time of year you take what you can get.

  1. July 26, 2010 7:53 am

    Aaahhh…county listing. Now that there is a heck of a good time.

    And, Nate, why do you hate southern heritage? 🙂

  2. Nate permalink*
    July 26, 2010 9:44 am

    @Corey- Indeed sir. County listing feeds the competitive instinct without taking me too far from home. It’s got a lot going for it.

    The south is a land of contrasts. Nuff said.

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