Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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Ebenezer Church Recreation Area, Apex, Chatham County, NC

One of the big draws of this natural area is the visit that thousands of Ring-billed Gulls pay to it each winter. As their discarded feathers imply, they cover a substantial proportion of the shore together at times, although they also can be seen in a row on the barrier marking the limits of the swimming area.

This is a part of the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, and is located about 3 miles south of Ebenezer Methodist Church on Beaver Creek Road, which turns south off Route 64.  Use this live map to find it.


The mystery of the thousands of feathers left behind here last year (2/20/11) was solved by this visit. Hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls congregated alternately on a barrier marking the limits of the public swimming area and on the shore.  I watched them move one by one to the shore, with birds typically landing within the group rather than at its edges.

The gulls were initially in the water. After I did a turn through the woods, about 100 had moved to the shore. The location of the feathers on the ground suggested that this group on the shore was so large that it extended partway onto the grass, although they avoided the sidewalk.

A large group of Ring-billed Gulls that assembled during our visit This Ring-billed Gull chose to land near, but not at, the edge of the group. The first set of gulls to come over, from a distance. Feathers on the ground show where gulls were before, so this is a relatively small assemblage. Ring-billed Gulls on the swimming area barrier  

This gull as coasting along the water surface. Ringed-bill Gull feathers on the grass. Ringed-bill Gull feathers on the grass Gulls out in the water, where they flew after a disturbance  

 A well-camouflaged male midge seen in the woods


Jordan Lake Seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia), at lake's edge, the only one of its kind in the area Long-legged flies (Hydrophorus genus), skating around on the surface of a puddle near the lake's edge Emaciated Fowler's Toad  

Annelids in a deep puddle False Nutsedge Jumping spider    


Young adult Blue Corporal Common Wood Sorrel Fly Immature pine branch with new cones  

Male Falcate Orangetip on Spring Beauty Female Falcate Orangetip Male Falcate Orangetip Female Falcate Orangetip  

Windsurfer.  These three pictures were taken by Karl Gottschalk. Windsurfer Windsurfer    


Main area, near beach, bathrooms and parking lot.  The white mass is thousands of feathers, presumably from Ring-billed Gulls. A close-up view of some feathers The rainbow-colored pond in the woods.  The colors are produced by the oily residues of organic matter from bacteria, exuviae, and many other sources.  Harsh winter conditions bring this about. Male Red Maple flowers  

This chimney is all that's left of Ebenezer Church.  The thumbnail orientation is due to a problem in the software that I can't fix.

Copyright © 2011-2019 by Dorothy E. Pugh.  All rights reserved.  Please contact for rights to use photos.


Map of Ebenezer Recreation Area and surrounding area: "A" is the location of Ebenezer Methodist Church.  Note the "Jordan Lake State Recreation Area" below (south) of it, where this park is on the map.  When you arrive at the entrance, you'll see the sign "Ebenezer Church Recreation Area: North Carolina Department of Parks and Recreation."

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