submitted by Jane and Craig Lawrence
Towering 50’ above us, the massive boulders at the top of Ridges Mountain are 545,000,000 years old, created when an island, Carolinia, rifted from the supercontinent Gondwana. The majority of Ridges Mountain is owned by the North Carolina Zoo, which purchased the land to protect its upland depression pools and swamp forests.
But it wasn’t the boulders or botany that caught our attention when we arrived, as we spent our first hour on the edge of the preserve surrounded by Yellow-breasted Chats, Prairie Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Blue Grosbeaks and other migrants. On our gentle climb up this peak that tops out at an altitude of 843 feet, we stopped often, sometimes for the Cuckoos, Ovenbirds and other forest birds, sometimes for the stone walls of early settlers, other times for the Mountain Laurel and the Chestnut Oaks. Not only did we get excellent looks at our forest and field migrants, but our eyes were opened to the early history of the Keyauwee Indians, the travels of John Lawson, and the far distant origins of this magic mountain.
We want to give special thanks to the NC Zoo for giving us permission to spend the day on their special preserve. Our species list of 43 birds:
Great Crested Flycatcher