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Nature Notes - February 2016
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A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks for Valentine’s DayDennis Burnette
Is this the first time you have received Nature Notes? All National Audubon Society members automatically become members of their local chapter. We are yours, T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society. National Audubon recently sent out a revised membership list that contains some email addresses that we didn’t have in our local chapter database, which may be why you’re receiving this now. Enjoy this newsletter to find out what we do. We feel pretty sure you're going to like us! If not, you can unsubscribe at the bottom of this page. Thanks for reading!
Spring Beauty and Purple VioletDennis Burnette

2016 Spring Wildflower Walks on Wednesdays

 
Let’s celebrate spring by searching for early spring wildflowers! Join naturalist Ann Walter-Fromson for Wednesday morning wildflower walks in March and April. We will visit several watershed trails and area parks and preserves to observe nature’s beautiful show of ephemeral spring wildflowers.

These are joint field trips with the Triad chapter of the NC Native Plant Society.
The dates for these walks aren’t in the regular 2016 TGPAS calendar so please be sure to save the dates. A printed list of the dates and locations will be available at the next meeting..
 
You’re welcome to join in for any or all of these walks. Wear sturdy walking shoes, as trails may be muddy or slippery in places. You may want to bring binoculars (close-focus binoculars are particularly good for viewing small flowers), a wildflower field guide, a camera, water, and a snack. No pets, please.
 
We will meet for each trip at 9:30 a.m. in the Whole Foods parking lot under the Sears Plaza Sign closest to Friendly Avenue
between BB&T and Chick-fil-A so that we can carpool to our field trip site. We expect to return by noon. Please contact the trip leader at annwf7@gmail.com  if you are meeting us at the walk site instead of carpooling.
 
The following wildflower walks will be held:
 

March 16  – The Bog Garden:  We start at the entrance on Starmount Farms Drive and take the Nell Lewis Trail, which is short but steep in places. We will search for the earliest spring wildflowers and get an introduction to key features to look for when identifying plants. Less than 1 mile of walking.
 
March 23
No walk
 
March 30
Townsend Trail: We begin at the Yanceyville Street trailhead and walk about a mile east, looking for Bloodroot and Hepatica. About 2.5 miles of walking; the trail is moderately hilly.

 
April 6
Northeast Park: We start on the Buffalo Creek Trail in search of Spring Beauty, return to the Low Water Crossing area, then head a short way along the Reedy Overlook Trail to look for wildflowers in the bottomland forest. About 3 miles of walking; Buffalo Creek Trail is moderately hilly.

 
April 13
Marie Poteat’s farm or Richardson-Taylor Preserve. Check TGPAS Facebook or TGPAS and NCNPS emails for more information closer to this date.

 
April 20
Laurel Bluff Trail:  We start at the North Church Street trail head and walk west through woodlands overlooking Lake Townsend. About 3 miles of walking; this section of the trail is quite hilly.

 
April 27Beech Bluff Trail:  We begin at the Brass Eagle Loop trailhead; after walking through a low wet area, we climb a steep hill to the bluffs overlooking Brush Creek, which host a wide variety of spring wildflowers. About 1.5 miles of walking.

Native Plants for the Downtown Greenway

 By Jack Jezorek
The vision to create a natural area along the Downtown Greenway is growing, thanks to members of TGPAS and advocates involved in planning the greenway's Innovation Cornerstone site.

TGPAS members Dennis Burnette, Sarah Gilley, Jack Jezorek and Ann Walter-Fromson, along with Nancy Adamson of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, met with city planner Elizabeth Link of the Greensboro Planning Department. The group had compiled a list of native flowering plants, shrubs, and trees and has sent it to Downtown Greenway coordinator Dabney Sanders.

We believe these plants will make the Cornerstone site attractive not only for people but also for pollinators and birds, and we hope that many of these plants will eventually be installed this spring and fall. If you are interested in which plants are on the list, contact one of us and we will forward it to you.

We also plan to install some interpretive signage at the site to explain the importance of native plants for birds, bees, and butterflies. In fact, we hope that the official name for the native plant part of the Cornerstone site will be The Bird, Bee, and Butterfly Garden.

Green and Growin' With Audubon

Green and Growin' is a huge trade show for nurseries, growers, landscape companies, and anyone associated with plants. Attendees come to the Greensboro Coliseum from all over the southeast to show their wares.

This event would seem to be a great venue to promote Audubon's Native Plants of the Year for Birds, right? Yes, and the folks at Audubon NC thought so too. Kim Brand,  ANC's Bird Friendly Communities coordinator,  reserved a booth for Audubon and asked TGPAS folks to help staff it. On Thursday and Friday of the show, Jan. 14-15,   Dennis Burnette, Sarah Gilley, Barbara Hughes, Jack Jezorek, Lynn Moseley, Deborah Staves, and Ann Walter-Fromson, Pearson Audubon members,  along with Don Lendle and Lisa Gould of Forsyth Audubon, held forth at the Audubon NC table.
 
We signed up seven
new nurseries for the Bird Friendly Communities program to stock native plants; 24 volunteer hours were clocked; 49 new folks signed up to get the e-bulletin about the program, bringing the total to more than 500; and eight of the existing nurseries stopped by to say hello and let us know how things were going.
 
All in all a productive couple of days at the Green and Growin' show and for our birds.
Haw River Hike/Courtenay Vass

Great Blue Heron Trail Hike Trip Report

By Courtenay Vass
Our Second Sunday Nature Walk on Jan, 10 was very enjoyable even though the windy, cold weather wasn’t the best for bird watching.   
 
Eighteen of us gathered at Haw River State Park Iron Ore Belt Access off North Church Street to walk their newest trail, Great Blue Heron Trail.

As we meandered along the trail, the Haw River State Park superintendent, Kelley King, pointed out the flood plains and mixed hardwood forests. Kelley told us about the beaver dam at one of the wetlands but the lack of daylight and time prevented us from seeing it.
 
We also came across old farm fields and sites with unique rock formations.  This trail is a great example of the area’s rich farming and mining history.

Calendar

Feb. 11 (Thur) Program: “Gardening to Attract Wildlife” Speaker:  Dennis Burnette
Feb.12-15 (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon) Great Backyard Bird Count  
Feb. 13 (Sat) Great Backyard Bird Count:  Learn to count birds GBBC-style and then join us for a walk to count birds at Price Park.
Feb. 14 (Sun) Second Sunday Nature Walk:  Greensboro Arboretum
Feb. 20 (Sat) Field Trip: Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge
March 5 (Sat) Field Trip: A&T Farm with Piedmont Bird Club – Morning walk, exact time TBD
March 10 (Thur) Program: “Gulf Coast Spill Recovery” - Speaker:  Chris Canfield VP, Gulf Coast/Mississippi Flyway National Audubon Society
March 13 (Sun) Second Sunday Nature Walk: Laurel Bluff Trail
March 16 (Wed)  Spring Wildflower Walk: Bog Garden
March 20 (Sun) Beginning Birder Workshop: “Familiar Birds of our Lawns and Parks” KCE Library 2:30-4:30 Pp.m. Joint PBC
March 26 (Sat) Field Trip:  Knight Brown Preserve in Rockingham County operated by PLC
March 30 (Wed) Spring Wildflower Walk: Townsend Trail
TGPAS Board Email Addresses
(click name to send email)

Dennis Burnette
Sue Cole
Judy Hoag
Jack Jezorek
Margaret Kane
Lynn Moseley
Marie Poteat
Courtenay Vass
Stella Wear
Tom Wear
Click here for our website
Click here for National Audubon website



 

American Toad (left)
and a slug (toad food)
– Photos by Dennis  Burnette

February Program:

Gardening to Attract Wildlife

What: Monthly Meeting
When: 7 p.m,. Thursday, Feb. 11
Where: KCE Branch Library, Price Park
Who: Dennis Burnette, Outdoor Educator
 
Our February program will have something of interest for gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts, and perhaps even for the amateur nature photographers in our chapter. Speaker Dennis Burnette will talk about “Gardening to Attract Wildlife.”
 
Sometimes people think of critters in their gardens and landscaping as enemies, but we are learning that many species of wildlife actually are good to have around. Birds eat the eggs and larvae of destructive insects, native bees are necessary for the pollination of our vegetables and flowers, and even toads eat harmful slugs.
 
Rather than doing battle with all the critters in our neighborhood and possibly killing species that could be beneficial, we can take some simple steps to encourage the things we want while discouraging the ones we don’t.
 
Our speaker is a retired college professor who is now focusing on nature education. An avid nature photographer, he uses his photos to show the beauty and positive side of nature to scouts, garden clubs, senior citizen groups, and nature-oriented organizations. He has held elected office and remains active in several of our local nature groups including serving on the TGPAS board.

Our meeting this month will be on Thursday, Feb. 11. Please arrive around 6:45; the program will begin at 7 p.m. We will be in our usual spot at the Kathleen Clay Edwards (KCE) Family Branch Library in Price Park, 1420 Price Park Drive, Greensboro.


We hope you’ll join us and bring a friend who might be interested in learning some ways to have a productive garden and home landscape that welcomes birds, butterflies and other critters.

 

Love the Birds? Join the Great Backyard Bird Count!

 By Ann Walter-Fromson
Each year for four days, people all over the world count birds that they see in their yards, parks, and neighborhoods.

The
Great Backyard Bird Count is a citizen science project of National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada held on Presidents’ Day weekend. Data you provide by recording the birds you see helps scientists understand what’s happening with birds and helps in planning for bird conservation. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is good for the birds and fun for you.
 
The Great Back Yard Bird Count (GBBC) this year will be held Friday, Feb. 12, through Monday, Feb. 15. You can count on one or all of the days, in your own back yard or in other places, by yourself or with a group. Just start a new list for each day and for each location where you count birds.
 

Great Backyard Bird Count Workshop and Group Outing on Saturday, Feb. 13

For those who would like to learn more about the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) and how to identify birds, TGPAS member Ann Walter-Fromson will give a brief presentation at 9:30 a.m. on  Saturday, Feb. 13, in the Community Room of the KCEF Branch Library in Price Park. (That’s where we have our monthly meetings.)
 
At this event, you will learn how to count using GBBC rules, how to enter data at the GBBC website, and how to use the Merlin Bird ID phone app for identifying birds. If you have a smart phone, you can download the free Merlin app before the presentation — IOS and Android versions are available from the
GBBC website. If you plan on doing a GBBC on your own, you may also want to download the free e-Bird mobile app: Your sightings will be included in the Great Backyard Bird Count if you use the app during the GBBC count period, Feb.12-15. 
 
After the presentation, we will head outside to count birds in Price Park. We will divide into two groups, cover different areas of the park, then reconvene at 11:30 to pool our data and submit a checklist to GBBC. Counting with a group is a great way to learn more about birds from other birders.

This will be a perfect opportunity for beginning birders to team with more experienced folks for both learning and fun. We hope you’ll join us!

Red-tailed Hawk at the Arboretuum– Dennis Burnette

Second Sunday Nature Walk
Join Our 'Lonely Hearts' Valentine's Day Bird Walk


What: Second Sunday Nature Walk
When 2 p.m.. Sunday, Feb. 14
Where: Greensboro Arboretum
Carpooling: Meet at 1:45 p.m.
in Friendly Shopping Center under the Sears Plaza sign facing Friendly Avenue, between BB&T and Chick-fil-A
 
Our monthly Second Sunday Nature Walk will be held on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. A few of the early nesting bird species, such as Brown-headed Nuthatches and hawks, already are looking for mates, so someone suggested that we call this one our “Lonely Hearts Valentine’s Day Bird Walk”!
 
Whether you are a lonely heart or a lovebird, you'll enjoy our easy stroll through the gardens of the Greensboro Arboretum, where we’ll be on a paved path and near benches to sit and enjoy the afternoon if we care to. We’ll watch along the creek for a Great Blue Heron, scan the sky for Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks that often are seen there, and watch the trees and lawn for winter songbirds.
 
This will be a good outing for beginners and older children accompanied by adults, as well as more seasoned birders. The total round trip walking distance to the mostly dormant butterfly garden isn’t much more than a mile. The arboretum has restroom facilities and a water fountain.
 
As usual, we will meet at 1:45 to organize carpooling in front of the Whole Foods Market, 3202 W Friendly Ave, Greensboro, NC 27408, in Friendly Shopping Center under the Sears Plaza sign facing Friendly Avenue, between BB&T and Chick-fil-A in Greensboro. We intend to depart at 2:00 pm, so we should be at the nearby arboretum by around 2:20. We plan to return to Friendly Shopping Center by 5 p.m.
 
Note: After we return to the shopping center, we’re going to try something new, a post-trip social hour. We plan to visit a nearby coffee shop to relax and have a bit of social time to talk over what we saw and enjoy each others company. If people like it, we’ll do it again next month!
Northern Shoveler (above) and Pee Dee Sign/Dennis Burnette

 

Field Trip Planned Feb. 20
To Pee Dee NWR

What: Field Trip
When: 8 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 20
Where: Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge 
Carpooling:
We will meet at 7:45 a.m.
in Friendly Shopping Center near Whole Foods Market under the Sears Plaza sign  between BB&T and Chick-fil-A and next to Friendly Avenue.

We’re happy to announce that we have scheduled a field trip to Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, Feb. 20. Note that this trip IS NOT on our annual calendar, so this is the first written notice that our chapter has received. This will be a joint activity with our sister chapter in the next county west of us, Forsyth Audubon Society.
 

Pee Dee NWR, the closest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge system to Guilford County, is only about an hour and a half south of us. The GPS address is 5770 US Hwy 52 North, Wadesboro, NC 28170. Refuge information, including directions, may be found on the refuge website:
http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Pee_Dee.

Situated along the Pee Dee River, the refuge contains 8,443 acres in Anson and Richmond counties and is managed as part of the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuge was established to provide wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl. It’s a good site for birds and butterflies in summer, and is one of the best nature preserves in the southern Piedmont in winter for ducks and geese. Due to warming average winter temperatures, we may see some late winter/early spring wildflowers, as well.
 
This trip is the third activity this program year that we will be doing with our friends in Forsyth Audubon. We are working on having a closer relationship with nature groups in our area by doing joint and cooperative outings. Not only are these proving to be a good way to introduce us to new nature sites, it’s always fun to meet and get to know like-minded people who love nature.
 
We will carpool from Greensboro to Pee Dee NWR. We plan to be at our normal rendezvous place in front of the Whole Foods Market, 3202 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro, NC 27408 in Friendly Shopping Center. Look for us under the Sears Plaza sign closest to Friendly Avenue between BB&T and Chick-fil-A. Please be there at 7:45 a.m. for departure at 8 a.m. in order for us to meet our Forsyth friends at the refuge. We expect to be back in Greensboro around 3 p.m. We will find a place to eat lunch before we return to Greensboro, or participants may bring a lunch.

White Street Landfil – Ann Walter-Fromson

White Street Landfill Trip Report

Once again we enjoyed our annual joint field trip to the White Street Landfill in Greensboro with the Piedmont Bird Club.

Fourteen folks met on Saturday, Jan. 9, to take advantage of this rare opportunity to visit one of the better birding sites in Guilford County courtesy of the trip leader, Carolyn Allen, who made special arrangements for the group to enter the facility.
 
Although it may seem to be an odd venue for birding, the landfill is a good place to find unusual sparrows, gulls, hawks, ducks, and other interesting birds. Other critters are seen sometimes, too.
 
Participant Ann Walter-Fromson said: “What delighted me the most were the two River Otters eating fish in the pond near the entrance to the landfill. A Belted Kingfisher was perched above the otters, watching carefully, and a Great Blue Heron shuffled out of the way when the otters started rolling around in the water around its legs. As for birds, the Eastern Meadowlarks were beautiful in both song and appearance.” The group saw about 50 species in total.
 
This is always a fun field trip. We’ll certainly look forward to doing it again next January.
18 waterfowl watchers gathered for a great day, including a visit to Trosper Pond – Lee Capps
Ring-billed Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants rest at  Buffalo Lake. – Lynn Allison

Report - Field Trip to Greensboro Lakes for Waterfowl

We had a great turn out of 18 folks from T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society and Piedmont Bird Club for our joint field trip to the Greensboro lakes and ponds for waterfowl on Saturday, Jan. 30. The trip was led by Dennis Burnette.
 
It was a beautiful, dry, sunny day to be looking for ducks and geese and other water-loving birds. The morning started out cold, but the air warmed quickly to about 50 degrees by noon.  As planned, this was a drive-and-stop field trip with little walking between observation points, so participants were able to warm themselves in their cars between overlooks if they became chilled.
 
Our itinerary included overlooks on Buffalo Lake (including the western end called Philadelphia Lake), Trosper Pond, Lake Brandt Marina, Plainfield Road marsh, Yanceyville/Doggett Road marsh,  and the causeway across Lake Townsend on Yanceyville Street.
 
Although we didn’t see anything unusual, a couple of people saw new birds for their life lists. We found a good selection of ducks including American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. There were plenty of Canada Geese, and in one pond we saw several non-native “farmyard” waterfowl such as Muscovy Duck, Greylag-type geese, Mute Swans, and Asian swan-geese.
 
Other water-loving bird species included many Ring-billed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants, Pied-billed Grebes, Great Blue Herons, and Belted-Kingfishers. The usual winter land birds were easily seen and heard but are too numerous to list here.
 
This was a fun trip, great for beginners and more experienced birders alike. We look forward to more joint trips.
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