North Jordan Lake along Farrington Road

By Barbara Roth

Getting there: From Chapel Hill, where U.S. 15-501 heads south toward Pittsboro turn left on Mount Carmel Church Road, which becomes Farrington Road (S.R. 1008) in Chatham County. From N.C. 54 — Go south on Farrington Road (just west of I-40), turn left on Farrington Mill Road and follow until it ends at S.R. 1008. Turn left (south) toward Jordan Lake.

Site one: Farrington — The first causeway across the lake is at Farrington. Birding is often excellent from the bridge.

Coordinates for Google Earth/Maps: 35 47 40.5 N, 79 00 39 W

a. Farrington boat ramp area. Turn right just before the causeway and proceed to the edge of the lake at the far boat ramp, taking care to stay out of the way of boaters. Get out scopes and look for birds on the lake, in the dead trees in the distance (ospreys, eagles, cormorants), and on buoys. Terns, gulls, herons and egrets are possibilities. Also listen and look for woodland birds in the pine trees and bushes on shore.

Now drive back along the boat-ramp access road toward S.R. 1008 and park in a graveled area on your left about half-way toward the highway. A path leads north through old fields, and bends left along the edge of the woods until it eventually reaches the lake. In spring and summer, you may see white-eyed vireos, blue grosbeaks and indigo buntings, yellow-breasted chats, and prairie warblers here; in winter, various sparrows and winter wrens.

You will also see an old farm road which leads into the woods, soon reaching an old roadway, which goes to the lake through some woods. These areas are all in the New Hope Count Circle, but there is an alternative path which leads directly north, and then makes a couple of jogs toward the left as it skirts the woods. One can then proceed down to a sandy spot at the edge of the lake or continue to explore to the north as far as the path remains open.

b. A piece of old 1008, from Martha's Chapel Road. Take the causeway until you reach the road on your left in the middle of the causeway. Drive a short distance until you see a place to park on your left. Take a scope, and start walking down the old turnoff to 1008 as it went north across New Hope Creek. The old roadway is rutted and uneven, but will take you quite a distance through areas of brush and young pines along the edge of the lake. Continue all the way to the end. You will find a path, even though weeds have grown up. On the way, look for shorebirds and passerines. Palm warblers are often found here, and no place else in this count circle. Other warblers pass through here. The Kentucky nested here last year, and also orchard orioles. Keep an eye out for bald eagles nesting or foraging. In spring and summer watch the swallows. Cliff as well as barn swallows nest under bridges in the area.

c. The Bunker farmsite. After returning to your parking place, continue walking on Martha's Chapel Road on the north side. You will soon come to a grove of large trees and roadway to a former farm. Since the Corps of Engineers (builder of Jordan Lake) blocked the road, the weeds have grown up, but this is an excellent birding area, with paths leading down to the lake. You may find warblers and yellow-billed cuckoos in season, woodpeckers at any time of year. Cross the road and if the old farm road is passable, proceed south to the Folkner arm of the lake. This area offers possibilities of hawks, ducks, woodpeckers and warblers.

Site 2: Stone Road. This road is on your right as you continue south on S.R. 1008 beyond Martha's Chapel Road. It is good for roadside birding only from your car. Look for summer residents such as purple martins and tanagers; sparrows in winter; and bluebirds year-round. Be careful not to trespass.

Site 3: Sexton Road. This is the next road south of Stone Road. Drive down this road past the Sexton Farm on your left, until you come to a barricade across the road, which the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission unfortunately put there three or four years ago. Park and bring your scope. Go straight ahead. (A farm road to the right leads to an old field and did continue to the right to a farm pond, but Wildlife blocked it off and it is hard to get to. There used to be green-backed herons and wood ducks there.)

Continue on Sexton Road until you reach a clearing, an old farm site for the Stone family. Here the road branches, with both branches going to the lake eventually. The shorter arm is to your right, but I find it less interesting. Near the end of that route, you parallel a little cove, which might have ducks.

Take the left arm, with alternating fields and wooded areas which Wildlife has done creative things with. You will come to a big bend to the right, with a field on the left. After that it is wooded until you reach the lake. You may find lots of little birds en route. At the lake, use your scope and look for osprey nests. There are some pleasant sandy coves if you walk left around the edge of the lake. Eventually you will come to a large inlet that takes you around a big bend to the left. Beavers have been at work here in recent years. If the lake is low you can walk quite a ways, and once in a great while you can even cross over to the other side of the inlet.

Now back to where you first reached the lake: Walk along the edge to your right. If the lake is low, you can go quite a ways, although you may have to climb over fallen trees. Often you come upon shorebirds at the right time of year (August and September). It is often quite birdy along the lake edge in the pine trees -- bluebirds, pine warblers, brown-headed nuthatches, and possibly other warblers.

Site 4: Horton's Pond. Back on S.R. 1008, continue south for a short distance, until you see Horton's Pond Road on your left. Turn left and continue for perhaps a mile, meanwhile looking for roadside birds. Horton's Pond is on your left, in the woods, barely seen from the road. Opposite it is an arm of Jordan Lake on the south. Park, and take a stroll along the right side of Horton's Pond (which covers 40 acres). This is the side where the dam is. This pine-needle-covered trail is very pleasant. Watch for ducks, not only on the pond but also below on the spillway area if it is wet. Now cross the road and look for shorebirds in the inlet of the lake. A trail leads to the lake, on the east side.

Text revised 8 September 1998, page last updated 12/29/2008

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