Yesterday, a storm front stalled over the Rockfish Valley. We had 4.4 inches of rain in our deck rain guage, and 5.3 inches were recorded on Wintergreen Mountain. A cold front is moving through the area today, and should provide some great weather for the rest of the week. It was in the mid-60's this morning, with mostly heavy, overcast skies and low clouds. I put on my long pants and gortex leggings, and headed to the Rockfish Valley Trail to see if any new birds had moved into the area.
I arrived at the main kiosk at 8:20, and took the same path as I had walked for the past couple of hikes there: the 2.4 mile hike from the kiosk to the end of the downstream trail, Glenthorne Loop to the second wooden bridge, across to route 627 and back to the first wooden bridge, and then back to the kiosk (1 -1 /2 hours), and then another 0.3 miles each way to the park benches on the upstream trail and back for the last 1/2 hour. The entire hike was on saturated ground, and by the time I finished the first 2.4 miles, I could feel the tiredness in my legs from sloshing through the wet ground with water-logged boots. But it was an interesting hike.
As soon as I walked under the route 151 bridge, I saw a large flock of starlings on the power lines that flew away in a characteristic Starling grouping as soon as they saw me. There were lots of Cedar Waxwings, including a large flock in the dead tree across from the first wooden bridge on the Glenthorne Loop trail. Several of the species were showing considerable fall molting, especially the Indigo Buntings and Cardinals. By the time I reached the Yellow Bird Thicket just past the first wooden bridge, a Brown Thrasher on the top of the thicket made 12 species so far on this hike:
Great Blue Heron
From Yellow Bird Thicket back to the kiosk, I added six more species:
By the time I got back to the kiosk, the sun was breaking through the clouds, and the ground water was starting to steam, making it a bit muggy. The hike on the upstream trail was the most interesting:
Willow Flycatcher (first fall)
I saw a pair of Red-eyed Vireos having a dispute - clearly the one of the right had the last word
The Willow Flycatcher has first fall colors. Notice the buffy wing bars and the yellow undertail coverts.
Spent an hour at the hawk watch this afternoon with Vic L. until the rain moved in. In a short span of a few minutes we did see fly-bys of an American Kestrel, an Osprey, and a Sub-adult III Bald Eagle.
Sub-adult III Bald Eagle
Sub-adult III Bald Eagle