Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lake Crabtree and William B. Umstead SP, NC - 12 Nov 2015

Robin and I travelled to Raleigh, NC yesterday so that she could participate in the 2015 Art of the Carolinas Workshops. While she spent the day in class I checked out local birding hotspots.

My first stop was to nearby Lake Crabtree County Park. I was expecting to spend the day there, but arrived to find no waterfowl on the lake and all of the hiking trails closed due to high water. So, I stayed long enough to chase a North Carolina Wren and a pair of Tufted Titmice near the boat launch. It was clear and breezy, and leaves were falling like crazy so it was hard to follow moving birds through the trees. North Carolina Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches were active at the feeders as I drove out 20 min later.

William B. Unstead State Park was just a few minutes away, so I decided to give it a try. I stopped at the Visitor's Center for a map and the headed out Sal's Branch Trail toward Big Lake. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker greeted me momentarily by posing in the early morning sunlight but was too far for photos.

As I hiked the trail toward the lake I was struck by the beauty of the place, especially the Long-leaf Pines and White Oaks. Leaves littered the ground everywhere, which made it difficult to locate a path that was literally a gap between trees. But the ground had just enough traffic from earlier visitors that I could worm my way through the lowlands toward the open lake.

The lake itself was pretty. And quiet. I relaxed at the base of a large Beech to give my back a rest, and watched a raft of Ruddy Ducks float quietly in the middle of the lake. I picked up one of numerous Long-leaf Pine cones lying around me and quickly realized my mistake. Each scale of the cone is covered with a needle-shaped picker, so it felt like handling a ball of sewing needles. Ouch!

I hiked back toward the car but took service trails. They brought me closer to Golden-crowned Kinglets, Carolina Wrens, and Tufted Titmice. Winds were now picking up so I decided that my birding opps were dwindling. I headed back to the Hotel.

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