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Birding with Andy

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Andy Upshaw is one of our local bird authorities. Before there was a pandemic, he taught birding classes at CCCC. He used to bring his classes on field trips to the Plant. He’s a retired landscape architect (also knows his plants), and he came by the Plant this morning to do some birding with me.

Here’s one thing about me as a birder: I’m deaf. A lifetime of power tools has left me unable to hear birds, or women’s voices. That’s what they said when I got my hearing aids a few years ago. Those are the hearing aids I never wear. They tickle and make my ears itch.

But Andy has his hearing. He nailed 18 different varieties of birds this morning. It was remarkable hanging out with him. When I pulled in at 8:01 a.m., he was sitting quietly, listening to a yellow breasted chat.

That’s a new bird for me. I couldn’t hear it, but we fought our way down to the far corner of Pandemic Park and I was able to see it as clear as day. It’s large, for a warbler.

We walked the trail, checked out the spring, and chatted about stuff. Little things, like raising teenagers, living in the time of Covid, the changing face of Chatham County, and whether or not the world will ever be the same.

I’m trying to learn how to take photos of birds—and I picked up this shot of what I believe is an Eastern Wood Pewee. At the rate that I take successful bird photos, it will be years before I can flesh out a “Birds at the Plant” page for our website.

Here’s hoping that other birders—maybe those who are good with cameras—will stop by and take some shots.

I’ve been birding with Andy before. We once did an Audubon Bird Count on the Lower Moncure Road, where he used to see shrikes. I’m embarrassingly amateur compared to him—but he is patient and generous with his knowledge.

It was a treat birding with Andy.

Here’s the list he came up with from our walk around the Plant this morning:

Eastern towhee

White-eyed vireo

Summer tanager



Mourning dove



Blue-grey gnatcatcher

Eastern Phoebe

American goldfinch

Red-eyed vireo

House finch

Indigo bunting

Great blue heron

American Crow

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