Monday, June 3, 2013

New York City & North Carolina

Scarlet Tanager

I spent 18th-31st May in the US for my sister-in-law's wedding.  Amalee and I had four days in New York before heading to the wedding venue near Asheville in North Carolina and then headed onwards for a few days staying in a log cabin in Bryson City on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Birding opportunities were somewhat limited by our busy schedule which was a bit frustrating given the excellent time of year to be visiting venues like Central Park - indeed I only made one pass through the Ramble in the middle of the day for about 10 minutes but migrants were very obvious with Ovenbird, Myrtle Warbler, two Swainson's Thrushes, two Baltimore Orioles and a White-eyed Vireo all seen.

The wedding venue itself, a big house surrounded by mixed woodland and open fields provided some avian interest whilst helping with preparations for the big day, with Eastern Pheobe and Eastern Bluebird both nesting on the house (the latter nest hosting a Brown-headed Cowbird egg), Indigo Bunting, Eastern Kingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Orchard Oriole, and best of all a Yellow-breasted Chat in the garden, and a pair of Wood Duck overhead. We also had a Bald Eagle fly directly overhead at the end of the wedding ceremony which resulted in some rather amusing patriotic ramblings by one of the bridesmaids!

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird clutch, with an interloper...

Eastern Pheobe

Birding in the Smokies was rewarding though I got the impression that a lot of birds were already well advanced with breeding and hence were keeping a low profile.  Highlights included being investigated at close quarters by an inquisitive male Northern Parula whilst pishing, several singing Chestnut-sided Warblers, Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart, Blue-headed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, and a female Wild Turkey with a posse of chicks.

Once again I found myself astonished by just what a great place the US is, with vast expanses of wilderness (Great Smoky Mountaions National Park is about the same size as Khao Yai or the English county of Leicestershire).

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Wild Turkey

Least Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher