Monday, December 6, 2010

McDowell Nature Center and Preserve - Charlotte, NC

The preserve encompasses 1108 acres of forested, rolling terrain along the banks of Lake Wylie.  Over 90% of the nature preserve has been left undeveloped and offers terrific wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities.

The nature center served as a gateway and housed exhibits with a variety of informative displays on the preserve's natural communities and wildlife.  It had a gift shop with some unique items and great prices.  We purchased a few things for our sponsored Compassion International children, such as postcards and temporary tatoos of butterflies (girls) and frogs (boys).

There are nearly seven (7) miles of trails giving a wide range of diversity to explore while enjoying scenic views of the lake, forest or streams. We chose the Cove Trail which was a .8 mile moderate hike along the shoreline of Lake Wylie, hoping to see some shorebirds in this deep cove.  The brochure promised ducks, muskrats and mink and a beautiful Fall display of color in the maples that were very prevalent along the trail.  

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Wilson's Snipe
at McDowell Nature Preserve, Charlotte, NC
As we approached the Lake Wylie cove at the McDowell Nature Preserve, something flew out of the water's edge onto a drier area, but only Randal's sharp eyes could detect where the Wilson's Snipe was since it was so well camouflaged. I kept trying to find it with my camera zoomed in, but it was motionless for the many minutes we kept searching the distance across the cove for it. 

Finally Randal took the camera and got the first shot to prove there was something there. I figured it flew away while our eyes diverted for a few moments. There was not a twitch of movement, but then while we were looking, a bird flew into the other side of a tree nearby it and Randal thought it was a hawk, so the bird on the ground had more reason to remain motionless to blend in with the leaves.

After seeing the photo we both knew we'd never seen this bird before.  That beak was so very long and the coloring was so beautiful.  Since I didn't have my field guides I had to post the photo on a bird forum to find out what it was.

The extremely long bill is used to probe in the mud for small invertebrates and is actually flexible.  The tips can be opened and closed with no movement at the base of the bill.  Sensory pits at the tip of the bill allow the snipe to feel its prey in the mud.

An unusual thing about the Wilson's Snipe is the clutch size is almost always four (4) eggs.  The male takes the first two chicks that hatch and leaves the nest with them never to return.  The female cares for the other two and apparently has no further contact with the male.  View McDowell Nature Preserve Photo Album.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always 
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either of them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website: © 2010 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from The link to use is:

No comments:

Share This Post