Lake Wheeler Road dairy pond

By Will Cook and Steve Shultz

Overview: This little pond in the middle of a big dairy operation is a real bird magnet and always worth a stop.

Note: Currently access to the pond and other property within the boundaries of the NC State University research farms is restricted to permit holders. Permits can be obtained at the Field Office during normal business hours. The Field Office is located just north of the dairy pond on Lake Wheeler Road. Look for the brick one-story building just south of the church on the west side of Lake Wheeler Road. Birders with a permit should stick to the dirt roads through the complex and not enter any pastures or agricultural fields.

Getting there: To get there from I-40, take the L. Wheeler road exit, follow L Wheeler Rd. south, and turn left into the gravel driveway of the N.C. dairy educational unit (or something like that). It's the first left after you pass Mid-Pines Road on the right. If you get to Penny Rd. (and Yates Millpond) on the right, you've gone too far. Follow the driveway in past cow pastures and a large barn. As it curves to the right, you'll get a great view of the little pond.

Coordinates for Google Earth/Maps: 35 43 21 N, 78 40 51.3 W

What to look for: This little pond is often loaded with ducks. On 1/17/98 this small pond was packed with ducks, including an amazing 60 N. Shovelers rotating in several flotillas! It's a good spot for Greater Scaup, too, though Lessers are more common. Check the shoreline for shorebirds. In winter, there are often flocks of American Pipits around. And there are thousands of starlings and cowbirds, which often attract hawks.

After you've birded the pond, drive down Mid-Pines Road. This little-traveled dirt road has wide open fields and brushy areas. It can be great for sparrows, pipits, shrikes, and other field birds.

Facilities: None.

When to visit:Winter.

Revised 12/31/2008

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