Red River Gorge Geological Area
I’ve been visiting Red River Gorge/ Natural Bridge State Resort Park, ever sinced I was a kid and my parents would take us there on vacation. Almost a 3 hour drive it’s a great getaway for just a weekend of a longer stay. There’s so much area to cover you’d have to come here for years just to see it all. And I’ve been coming for years.
This is without a doubt one of my favorite places to visit. In my 20’s I would backpack at the Gorge almost once a month, so I know the area pretty well and it’s dangers. And it is a dangerous place. Rattlesnakes and bears are a couple of critters you have to worry about, but I think the biggest dangers are the cliffs. People die every year falling from some of the sheer drop offs that make up this area. However with some common sense, and a familiarity of the area it is quite safe. The hiking trails are well marked and offer hiking for any level. However this trip was about the birds.
After arriving and setting up camp, I hit the trails. Like I said before this was a photographic trip with my target birds being Swainson’s, Hooded, Worm-eating, and Kentucky Warblers, plus anything else that’ll hold still long enough.
All told I totaled 57 bird species with 15 warbler species. Granted if I’d gone to the Lake Erie region I would probably have doubled the totals for both species and warblers. But I’m OK with that, and I’m thinking that maybe I’ll mix it up like this every other year. One year go to the lake, the next go to the Gorge.
Black & White warblers were fairly numerous while I was down there. Once you familiarize with it’s song finding them was pretty easy.
Black-throated Green and Blue Warblers were present, just not in large numbers.
Now Ovenbirds were probably the 2nd most numerous warbler I found. Despite being kind of difficult to spot, their song was almost constant as I hiked.
Without a doubt the Hooded Warbler was the most numerous. They were everywhere. And this bird was at the top of my list of “Get a picture of this bird” list. With it being mating season they were really active and didn’t sit still long enough for my slow photographic reflexes.
Another bird at the top of my list was the Worm-eating Warbler. Now there’s only one reliable location from where I live that Worm-eating Warblers can be spotted, and that’s Boone County Cliffs. However in the Gorge it’s a different story. They were pretty easy to spot and get a few decent photographs.
Now one of the birds I really, really wanted to get a photo of was a Swainson’s Warbler. I conversed with Jon ahead of time to make sure I went to the correct location where he had sighted them last year. The hike was about 1 1/2 miles from the trail head to where they were seen. A large area thick with Rhododendrons at the foot of a rock outcropping was the spot. After about 30 minutes of waiting I had a hard “chip” note to my right. It kept getting closer and closer till the bird jumped up. I was able to ID it as a Swainson’s Warbler, and that’s about it. It flew into cover across the trail and was never seen again. Then 2 of them started to sing. Well that made me feel a little better about this ordeal, but I really wanted a picture. I may have to go to Tennessee for that.