Rockfish Valley Trail 7/5/10

Well, the heat and humidity has returned to the mid-Atlantic states, making birding a challenge again. Yesterday, Alice and I were playing golf here in Stoney Creek (Wintergreen Resort valley section where we live), and a Sharp-shinned Hawk landed in a tree about 20 feet away from us. Although common here from mid-September through mid-April, Sharpies are unusual to see here during the summer. Of course I didn't have my camera with me.

This morning I started off with my camera by going to where we had seen the Sharpie yesterday - perhaps it was sticking around, but I did not see it, and then I headed off to the Rockfish Valley Trail, arriving there at 9:15. It was already getting hot, and many of the birds were hunkering down in dense tree cover.

However, the following species were either out and not too bothered by the heat, or were easy to spot: Tree and Barn Swallows, Black and Turkey Vultures, Chipping Sparrows, Indigo Buntings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bluebirds, American Crows, Eastern Phoebes, Wood-Pewees, Rock Pigeons, and American Goldfinches. Most of the other species were difficult to see, and even harder to photograph. With the long grasses in the fields adjacent to the trail, Eastern Meadowlarks are often heard, but difficult to see. I watched the field where I heard one, and it flew to another spot and then perched in a nearby tree. I saw a pair of American Redstarts by the second wooden bridge on Glenthorne Loop, and the Rock Pigeons are nesting again under the route 151 bridge at the start of the downstream trail. I saw and/or heard a few more species, but by 10:45 it was already 89 degrees, so I headed home.

If you want to see juvenile birds, now is a good time - I saw lots of juvenile Bluebirds in various phases of development, and juvenile Chipping Sparrows and Indigo Buntings. Make sure to wear a hat and bring plenty of water in this heat.

Black Vultures

Carolina Wren

Chipping Sparrow juvenile

American Goldfinch

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting juvenile

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Phoebe

Rock Pigeon

American Redstarts

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