Fletcher Community Park: An undiscovered jewel?

Published 3:29 pm Monday, June 28, 2010

Just up the road a little from Tryon is another great little birding place that is well worth visiting. This is Fletcher Community Park, situated just off Howard Gap Road in downtown Fletcher. From the road it does not look that special, just an area of grass, ball-fields and newly planted trees, but dont let that put you off. Just read this list of birds that have been seen in the park over the last year: Philadelphia Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, American Pipit. Again, the list is endless.

Once you have parked your car in the center of the park, there are several choices you can make of where to go. The park is bordered by two rivers, which have heavily vegetated banks. This dense border of trees and shrubs is very attractive to birds and should be walked quite slowly. There is a small marshy pond at the back of the park, that initially looks pretty birdless, but Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper have all been recorded here. Behind the pond is another thick hedgerow of dense vegetation with agricultural fields behind it, but best of all is an overgrown field with a heavy thicket of alders and other wet habitat vegetation. Access to the latter is difficult, but by slowly walking the perimeter, you should be able to hear and see several species. A good two hours in the park during spring or fall migration could easily produce a list in excess of 40 birds, not a bad count for this area of the mountains.

The local Henderson County Bird Club regularly holds morning walks in Fletcher Park throughout the spring and fall migration seasons. Highlights this spring have been Orchard Orioles and Eastern Kingbirds nesting in the small marsh, Barn, Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows feeding over the newly mowed fields and a pretty good passage of Blackpoll Warblers working the trees along the river. &bsp;

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Not a great deal of birding has been done in the relatively new park, but a few folks are covering it on a regular basis. Assuming that there is no scorched earth policy here with the vegetation, the future looks good for this place as a top Henderson County birding spot. You never know, perhaps we may even rival Jackson Park as once of the best places to bird watch in the area.

Simon Thompson has lived in WNC for the past 16 years. He owns and operates his own birding tour company, Ventures Birding Tours. WWW.birdventures.com.

If you have birding questions, please drop Simon an e-mail at the above site.