Harris Lake

By Bob Perkins

Overview: Harris Lake, a CP&L nuclear power reservoir, is situated in Chatham and Wake Counties southeast of US 1. There are two public boat ramps, one near the dam that is reached from NC 42 and an upper landing reached via SR 1127 and SR 1130 from US 1.

Coordinates for Google Earth/Maps: 35 34 25 N, 78 58 32 W (lower boat ramp)
35 36 31 N, 78 56 22 W (upper boat ramp)

Where to go: By boat: Starting from the lower ramp, to find waterfowl and waders, go to the left up the White Oak Creek arm of the lake and explore the large coves on the left side. If you go to the right, up Buckhorn Creek, you'll need to go all the way to the broad shallows in the upper end.

Starting from the upper ramp, go to the right up the White Oak Creek arm. Go under the SR 1127 bridge and explore the shallow upper end of the lake.

For the landbound birder, there are several places worth visiting. At the lower ramp, check the willows along the water on both sides of the parking area for Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Common Yellowthroats in the summer months. There are Pine Warblers in the thickly planted pines along the upper side of the parking area. Check the swampy margins for waders.

Walking the SR 1127 causeway is always worthwhile. The brush holds juncos, chickadees, cardinals, and various sparrows during the cooler months of the year. If you have a scope, during the cooler months, check the lake above and below the causeway for ducks, p-b grebes, coots, cormorants, and gulls. Bonaparte's Gulls are winter regulars.

The Wake County park at Harris Lake, situated on the peninsula between Little White Oak Creek and White Oak Creek and accessed from SR 1127 has woods and wet, grassy areas that are worth checking if the park isn't full of picnickers. If you have a scope, go as far down the peninsula as you can and scan the lake for waterfowl and waders.

When to visit: Fall through spring are best.

Revised 12/28/2008 cwcook@duke.edu

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