On Saturday I headed out to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for a morning bird walk. The guided walks offered there in winter are referred to by the refuge staff as “Lousy Bird Walks” because most of the fall migrants have moved through and the remaining birds have moved into deeper cover. But don’t be deceived, there’s still lots of birds and other wildlife to see. Winter can be a great time to walk the trails because most the foliage has dropped, leaving the wildlife more exposed for better viewing – not to mention, NO mosquitos!
Despite the name and the chilly temps, Saturdays walk was anything but lousy. We saw quite a few birds including a lifer for me – the orange-crowned warbler.
This photo was taken from Cornell’s All About Birds webpage.
The orange-crown warbler winters on the refuge as well as a few other areas along the southern half of the Virginia coast line. It’s a small warbler with dull winter colors.
Other interesting birds spotted that morning were – yellow-rump warbler, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, northern flicker, white-breasted nuthatch, Carolina and winter wrens, brown creeper, American goldfinch, hermit thrush and robins.
In addition to the birds, we also walked up on four white-tail deer that stood about 30 feet from us. They stood their ground for a few seconds before disappearing in the woods. Unfortunately, I was so focused on not forgetting my binoculars that morning I forgot to bring my camera with me.
Leaving the refuge that morning also offered some interesting birding. Just a few miles up the road I spotted a barred owl, pileated woodpecker, American kestrel and a Northern Harrier. All in all not a bad day. If only I had not forgotten that dang camera!
Many parks and refuges offer organized bird walks routinely. Take the time and go if you get the chance. It’s a great opportunity to get out and observe the birds and other nature up close. The next one at the Dismal Swamp NWR will be February 5th.