By Barbara Roth
Getting there: Take N.C. 751 south from I-40 about 13 miles to U.S. 64. The area described begins south of U.S. 64.
Coordinates for Google Earth/Maps: 35 44 27 N, 78 56 58.5 W
Organizing your search: Going north-to-south through the area makes for a full day. You may want to start with the southernmost spot, particularly in spring, then add in a few of the spots further north.
The area: The main north-south road here is a continuation of N.C. 751, which mysteriously becomes S.R. 1001 just south of U.S. 64., and then as it enters Wake County 1/4 mile south becomes S.R. 1141. There are good sparrow fields along that small 1001 section on the left, and a pond on the right, difficult to see from the road because of the bushes, but you can often see ducks there.
Continue a short distance to Olive Chapel Church, on your right, where there is a large parking area. This is a stop for Saturday birding. The lot is often filled during church on Sunday. The open grove around the church and the farming area across the road, as well as the cemetery to the south, often are quite productive for birding, especially in the springtime. Rusty blackbirds have been seen here in winter. The pond across the road almost always used to have winter ducks, but a recent scarecrow and building addition seem to have scared them away. Another pond can be seen, though, to the northeast, if one crosses the highway; theres often bird activity there. Orchard orioles are normally seen near the crossroads in spring.
The loop on gravel road 1901 to 1900 and back to 1141 goes through an area of old farms and several ponds that sometimes have ducks.
Continue south on 1141 to Beaver Creek, where the Corps of Engineers has recently build a duck impoundment. Park at the south entrance and walk in with care, to avoid flushing ducks. This offers excellent birding in spring for warblers. Near the dam you will see an old road leading away from 1141. Walk along it, and you will soon come to the old roadbed for the Norfolk & Southern RR. Walk along it in either direction, through mixed habitat of field and forest, as well as swampy areas below the raised roadbed. Good springtime birding. Returning to your RR starting point, if you cross the RR you will soon come to SR 1144, which was blocked off when Jordan Lake was built. You will want to explore this by car.
The loop to the east from Olive Chapel on 1140 to 1145 going south has several good birding stops, especially at branches to Beaver Creek. The old RR bed is just beyond the branch going north, and worth walking a bit. From 1145 turn right to 1142, which leads back to 1141, but do take the detour up 1144. On 1142, there are two good purple martin colonies.
When you reach 1141 again, turn right a very short distance to Barker Road (1142, becoming 1903 in Chatham County). There is excellent farmyard birding along this road. Continue to the end, where there are dumpsters. Park where you can, away from the junk. Just to the left of the dumpsters is an old farm road, reached by carefully picking your way for a short distance. This proceeds through young pine forest and loops right toward the lake. There you will reach a clearing, near the end of an inlet where the lake is full of dead trees. Relax here and watch for red-headed and pileated woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds. Often I have seen a mixture of prothonotary warblers, brown-headed nuthatches, bluebirds and woodpeckers in early morning. You may want to make this the first stop on your excursion, since it is sometimes very special at times of bird activity. You can see ducks here, too.
Text revised 9/8/1998, page last updated 12/29/2008 email@example.com
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