Field Trip Schedule

FIELD TRIP SCHEDULE

Augusta-Aiken Audubon's field trips are open at no charge to all chapter members and the public. We encourage everyone to come out and join us! Some tips to make the trips more comfortable: bring a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and drinking water. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended as is having raingear nearby.

Morning trips in fall and in spring usually begin at 8 a.m. and end around noon. Winter trips usually begin at 9:00 am and end around noon. Summer filed trips during the hot weather usually begin at 8 am and end around 11 am. Check this webpage and the newsletter for field trips that begin at different times.

For many of our fieldtrips we meet at Popeye's Resturant at the corner of Walton Way and the Gordon Highway (Hwy 1) in downtown Augusta.

Another site for field trips is the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. Directions to the park can be found on the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy website at www.phinizyswamp.org .

The Brick Pond Park in North Augusta is another favorite fieldtrip venue.

From Augusta take the 13th street bridge to North Augusta. 13th Street becomes Georgia Avenue. Turn left at the light just beond the City of North Augusta Municipal Buildiing. Immediately turn left on Center Drive. Center Drive ends at Railroad Avenue. Turn left. Just before the Bridge, turn left on Brick Pond Park Road which leads to the parking lot.

From I-20 take the Matintown Road Exit. Drive South East on Martintown Road and turn right on Georgia Avenue. At the Cty of North Augusta Municipal Building turn right and turn left on Center Drive. From Center Drive follow the directions above.

Directions to other field trip venues can be found on the Local Birding Sites
page on this website.

If you have questions concerning a field trip, please contact the field trip leader, Lois Stacey. birdercroakie@gmail.com; 803-215-1594

Augusta-Aiken Audubon held 31 field trips in 2018 to various locations around the area and a few road trips. Over the course of the year participants saw 161 species of birds. Along the way we had good looks at some birds we don’t see often; Horned Larks in the fields above Silver Bluff, astoundingly cooperative Virginia Rail at Savannah NWR, Yellow-billed Cuckoos everywhere during fall migration and Red-breasted Nuthatches and Purple Finches during their irruption. This year is just beginning but we’re hoping for another great year.

Trucks are running at Merry – please be aware if you bird Lover’s Lane or Merry Brickyard Ponds that heavy trucks are again running the roads there. These are private roads owned by the Meridian Brick Company and the working trucks have the right of way. Please park well to the side of the road and step to the edge when you see these trucks coming. The trucks are driving more slowly than they used to as well. I believe the new route is from the far end of Lover’s Lane at the turn to the creek all the way back down to the access road just below the dig on Foster’s Road, across Boat Ramp Rd, down Haul Road and the paved road to the plant. On a side note, Meridian is doing a good job of maintaining the roads and they were in the best shape they have been in years on our last field trip.

April 6, Saturday Wings and Things – Meet at the Kathwood Ponds at 9am to ramble around Silver Bluff looking for things with wings (and some without). This is our annual trip for all things nature primarily focusing on butterflies and dragonflies. We usually go until about 1 and then anyone wanting to continue can drive over to the cabin and walk that area. This has a different habitat and often different species are found there. Bring lunch if you want and we will eat at the cabin.

April 13, Saturday Pendleton King Park. Meet at Pendleton King Park at 8 am, near the picnic pavilion just inside the entrance. We will walk the trails looking for arriving migrants. The trip should end about noon.

April 20, Saturday -Phinizy Swamp NP – Join me at 8 am as I lead a Phinizy Swamp sponsored Spring Migration Field Trip. There will be a cost for this trip (usually $5). Trip will last until about 11.

May 4, SaturdayAiken County Migration Count – If you have a regular territory please do it. If you live in Aiken County and have feeders, please count them. If you want to help and have a favorite place please let Paul Koehler at Silver Bluff know where you are going to count. If you want to help but don’t have a place please meet us at Silver Bluff at 7:30 and we will set you up with a team to count parts of the center.

May 11 Launch at 8:30, Birding by Boat – Join us at Riverside Park to paddle Betty’s Branch and Little River looking for breeding birds and late migrants. We’ve seen lots of good birds in this area including a Great Blue Heron rookery which should be going full steam. We also got lucky and saw a hummingbird nest last year. If you have your own boat bring it along. If you don’t have a boat you can rent them right on site from Outdoors Augusta, they open at 8am. Please be onsite at 8am to either rent your kayak/canoe or to get your gear together. We will launch at 8:30. We will paddle for several hours up to 6 miles (very little current). Please let me know by phone, email, text or Facebook messenger that you plan to come so I don’t leave anyone behind; birdercroakie@gmail.com or 803-215-1594.

FIELD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

Lover's Lane- March 4, 2019

What a great field trip!! On Saturday we had a field trip to Lover’s Lane with 5 participants. After months of cloudy, rainy weekends we actually had clear skies and sunshine for a trip! It was beautiful. And also after months of trips with few birds seen or heard we actually had birdsong everywhere, spring is upon us! We ended the day with 54 species, our highest count all winter.

Our first new arrivals were Fish Crows at Popeye’s. As we drove down Columbia Nitrogen Rd we heard a couple of King Rails in the swamp across from DSM chemical. A little further up the road we had a very vocal and cooperative King Rail in the little swamp at the Y intersection and everyone got at least a glimpse of him. There was a Black and White Warbler in the bushes in this area also. A little further up we found two Osprey who are building a nest on top of a tower, I think it was the old Nutrasweet plant, and we watched one of them swoop down into the field and grab a stick to take back. Later we saw a third Osprey fly over with a fish, likely one of the Merry Ospreys (they are now nesting on the tower at Meridian Brick as the nest on the snag apparently fell). Right after seeing the Osprey with the stick we had an adult Bald Eagle flying over the Merry ponds behind the tractor shed. We had a great raptor day with Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk and Osprey! Near the end of the pavement we had a couple of Vesper Sparrows among the Song Sparrows. We also found a baby Snapping Turtle crossing the road.

We drove up Foster’s Lane to the end of the pavement and walked up the dirt part of Lover’s Lane with lots of Cardinals singing and Song Sparrows in the road. On the way back a large turtle had come out into the muddy ruts presumably to lay eggs. Along the paved part of the road we had a small flock that included Goldfinches, Robins, Cedar Waxwings and a Downy Woodpecker.

Spring is arriving so come out with us!

Clark’s Hill- March 9, 2019

Our annual Clark’s Hill/Lake Thurmond trip was Saturday Marchc 9 and it was a beautiful day to be at the lake. We started with fog but had sunshine before the end of the trip. At our meeting place at the little parking lot we had good scope looks at lots of Common Loons and some Red-breasted Mergansers. Already it was looking like a good trip as in years past there have been no loons or ducks to be seen out there.

We then drove to the Below Dam park on the SC side and had a great showing by the Bonaparte’s Gulls as they flew around and around. We walked the loop through the park and back up the road and along the way had some good birds. There were Goldfinches and House Finches in the trees and we had some Dark-eyed Juncos. Lots of woodpeckers were around too. Down near the boat ramp we watched several immature Bald Eagles either perched or flying. These birds have been in that same area for months. In addition the Osprey was on the nest on the high tension power tower.

From there we drove down to West Dam hoping to get better views of a distant raft of ducks but they were just as distant from that direction too so remained unidentified. However we had very up close views of about 7 Common Loons that swam into the little cove by the swimming area and right up to the yellow bolster!! You don’t get such close looks often. Some of them were well on their way to breeding plumage and were very pretty. We also had Horned Grebes there.

On around to Cherokee in Lincoln County we went. This is usually our best spot but today it was very quiet. We did see 22 more Common Loons plus some coots but that was about it. Our final stop was at Parksville where we saw more of the same and then we called it a day. We saw a total of 31 Common Loons over the course of the day. This was one of our best trips up there in a while with a total of 45 species. Lois Stacey.

Phinizy Swamp Nature Park- March 16

It was a beautiful spring day to walk the park and nine of us did just that. We started down the bus bridge instead of the boardwalk because we could hear a recently arrived Northern Parula singing from that side. This is a sure sign that spring is here! While we looked at the Parula and other regular small birds someone noticed a Barred Owl in one of the cypress that was heavily hung with moss. As we turned to look at the owl it slowly stepped to the side and disappeared behind the moss!

There were birds singing everywhere with Cardinals being the loudest. There was a gorgeous breeding-plumage Double-crested Cormorant sitting on the dirt mound in the Rain Garden Pond, a close look we don’t often get to see. We didn’t see any American Bitterns but we did get to hear 3 of them, a first for several people on the trip! We also heard 5 King Rails, a couple of them very close to us in the grass along the 3 Ton Bridge but none came out in the open to be seen.

There are still a few common ducks in the Equalization Pond; Lesser Scaup, Northern Shoveler and Blue-wing Teal and we heard one Greater Yellowlegs. The Northern Rough-winged Swallows are back as well. We heard a couple of Marsh Wrens and got to see a male Common Yellowthroat out in the marsh and a Yellow-throated Warbler along the trail through the woods. We ended the day with 55 species! It was a great day to be out and about. Lois Stacey.

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