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They're back
by Curtis Smalling

Latest Update: October 7, 2015

Look for a few Chestnut-sided Warblers to still be around. Photo by Don Mullaney
We will have our regular Wednesday walk on October 7th and in fact we should have our walks each Wednesday this month before finishing up for the year on the 28th of October. Walks start at 8:30 and last until about 11 or so. Bring binos and a field guide.

This is a great time of year to be out looking as you never know what kinds of goodies will show up. Marsh birds are peaking right now with Virginia Rail, Sora, and some shorebirds around. Some good spots to check include the Boone Greenway wetlands by the armory, Brookshire park and Meat Camp Creek Environmental Studies Area. And we had a regional first this week when Brian Fannon found a dead Least Bittern downtown Marion. They are known mostly from the cost in NC but with a few southwestern county records. Thanks to Brian for reporting it.

This week after the rain has been great for thrushes. The ones at my house (about a dozen) have been eating up the Virginia Creeper like mad and staying active all day in the vines. I had two Wood Thrush, two Gray-cheeked and about 10 or so Swainson;s in the berries yesterday. So be on the lookout (and listen at daybreak overhead for their distinctive call notes.

And finally a few of our winter residents are showing back up as I had my first White-throated Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows of the season in the past week. Also Ruby-crowned Kinglets are around and we had our first Purple Finch last week as well. Still some migrant warblers around with Tennessee, Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided, Palm, and few Northern Waterthrush lingering. Yellow-rumped Warbler waves should be here any day now.

Call the Audubon office for updates on the walk schedule at 828-265-0198. Also visit, and visit the Audubon North Carolina blog at and the High Country Audubon website at for lists of field trips and other programs.

Brian Fannon reported this Least Bittern from Marion this week. Note the distinctive wing pattern.

White-throated Sparrows are back. Photo by Don Mullaney

Leave those hummingbird feeders up even after your Ruby-throated Hummers leave. This Buff-bellied Hummingbird has been in Winston for the past couple of weeks for a second state record. Photo by Jeff Lewis