Folks that have never travelled on business believe it to be glamorous: you get to fly to exciting places, stay in fine hotels, and eat out on an expense account. The reality, as any “Road Warrior” can attest, is cramped airplane seats, tight connections, dinner at Denny’s and chain hotels. I work for a terrific company in Columbia, South Carolina and every six weeks or so experience the joy of Delta Airlines, Holiday Inn and Waffle Houses.
On the plus side . . . I can get in a little birding before and after work. Daylight is in short supply in February, but I managed to squeeze in an hour after office hours on Wednesday and Thursday.
I’ve discovered two terrific places to bird in and around Columbia: the Columbia Canal and Riverwalk Park and the Timmerman Trail. Surprisingly, the Columbia Metropolitan Airport is also a rather good place to see a bird or two . . . with ponds and marshes surrounding the terminal and parking facilities.
On this trip, I saw a Green Heron at the airport, a Turkey Vulture while driving to the office and a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds at the Hotel . . . all First of Year Sightings (FOY). The next day, in 30 minutes at the Timmerman Trail I got two more FOYs: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Barred Owl (flew 50 feet in front of me). On the final day of the trip at the Riverwalk Park, I found a Boat-tailed Grackle, Carolina Wren, Double-crested Cormorant, Red-shoulder Hawk, Anhiga and Brown-headed Nuthatch (the last two are lifers).