Clarke's Hill Reservoir, Phinizy Swamp, and Boral Brickyards offer pretty much all you need. However, it is a serious
drive east to get there, so I seldom make it that way. Clarke's is a little too big for my liking. Most birds
are just too far out even on a good day. I've had the usual stuff in this area. Some good birds like Cave Swallow,
and late/wintering birds like swallows, warblers, Baltimore Orioles, and White Ibis at the Brickyards. Interestingly,
I've found all the rails (except Yellow) in the area.
Look below for an example of a good day we had there (with photos):
Michael Beohm and I birded in the Augusta area Saturday 11/27/10. This is just a quick type
of the highlights we had.
From Clark's Hill Reservoir (all in GA).
Ross's Goose (6)
Snow Goose (1 white)
Black Scoter (2)
White-winged Scoter (1)
Greater Scaup (20+)
Red-breasted Merganser (2)
Northern Pintaill (5)
A check of Boral Brick:
Snow Goose (1 blue)
White Ibis (1)
Greater Scaup (2+)
Red-breasted Merganser (1)
BTW, we didn't stop at Phinizy Swamp.
Since my last posting was rather brief, I thought I would elaborate on the day I had birding along
with Michael Beohm on Saturday, 11/27/10. First, I must say that I rarely go birding now, so heading out twice
in one month felt like overindulgence. I guess I still had a little taste in my mouth from Lake WFG a few weeks
ago, in addition to feeling energized from the nice reports coming in from around the state. So, Michael
and I headed to a place that has served us well in the past, Clark's Hill Reservoir, checking the GA side at Sparrow Lane
and Fort Gordon Recreational Area. Wow, I had forgotten how chilly it can get at these reservoirs, but our
numb knuckles were rewarded with some hot birds. It was actually fairly comparable to our last outing at WFG a
few weeks ago (except sans the Great Cormorant, Red-throated Loon, and Surf Scoter. Though, I thought we might get the
latter two again, but alas not.)
One of the highlights was six ROSS'S GEESE. They were in a tight pack for most of the time, but they did move
around and eventually flew towards the middle of the lake; thanks to a pesky, canoeing hunter blasting his way around the
coves. The geese were classic Ross's: Stubby triangular bills which had straight, dark bases. The heads
were round with "cute" eyes. Thick, short necks, clean white feathers, black wingtips, and small overall size.
One was a juvenile since it had some gray dinginess to its back feathers and a dark eye line. BTW, I have a particular
fondness for Ross's, and I'm beginning to think they seek me out.
Not too far from there was also a single white morph SNOW GOOSE in clear violation of the lone goose
axiom. It was pretty classic too: not as bright white as the Ross's with a dirty wash around the head
and it's bill just a grinning. Also, at one point, was a small group of birds on one of the islands which appeared
to be white geese but the lake haze made identification impossible.
I'm not a stat junkie, but for the numbers folks out there, we had 18 species of duck. I think we also had Blue-winged
Teal which would make 19. I assume we could have gotten 21 if we had stopped at Phinizy Swamp but that wasn't a priority.
Best ducks were two BLACK SCOTER (immature/female type) and a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. It must be a stellar season
for them since I seldom see Black inland, though we did have five on our last trip to WFG along with two Surf. (In addition,
there have been several good reports of scoters from around GA.) We also had lots of loons with
of course one or two distant ones looking pacificky.
Determined to get my car as dirty as possible, we stopped at Boral Brick (a.k.a. Merry Brothers Brickyard Ponds).
I was spurred on by the memory of the cave swallow I found there last time. However, it was pretty quiet this time.
We did find one camera shy SNOW GOOSE (blue) which bolted upon approach and a somewhat out of season WHITE IBIS.
Not too surprising for the location was a good showing of waterfowl including Canvasback, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Red-breasted
Merganser and from the road we enjoyed Black-n-white Warbler, Orange crowned Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American
Woodcock (flyby), and a perched Great Horned Owl.
Overall it was a fun and rewarding trip. Augusta is a long haul for a place that can be feast or famine, but we
were blessed with some top-shelf birding in a pretty neat area of the state.
BTW, I had my pocket digital camera with me but digi-scoping is not its forte. I did get some photos;
but needless to say, you can't change the laws of physics, and there is only so much clarity you can pull out of a cheap
lens. That being said, I hope you enjoy some shots I posted to my website.
Good birding to all!