I started today's birding at the Rockfish Valley Trail at 8:30. Today was the tombstone dedication for my brother Dave in St. Louis, and although I could not make it there for the day, I was wearing one of his birding pins, and I feel confident that he would have wanted me to mark the one year anniversary of his passing with a birding hike in his memory.
Although I did not see as many spieces on the trail as I saw the past few days, I did see a good number of birds. One of the first birds I saw this mornng was an American Kestrel. I met Gordon D. on the trail a couple of hours later, and he said that he had seen a Northern Harrier being chased by some crows near the downstream trail while I was at the southern end of Glenthorne Loop.
The most interesting birds I saw on the trail this morning were a Blue-headed Vireo and a few female Red-winged Blackbirds. The Red-winged Blackbirds left the area a couple of months ago, and these females must been visitng on their way south. I saw a pair of Chipping Sparrows in Yellow Bird Thicket that had unusually dark facial features, but I can't attribute them to any other species.
female Red-winged Blackbird
On my way back to the kiosk, I saw two female Kingfishers having an argument - one of them finally gave up and flew to a power line
After a quick lunch at home, I went up to the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch. I have been trying to get a better photo of a Merlin, and am eager to see a new species for me such as a Northern Goshawk. Of course, there was a slow flying and close up Merlin there five minutes before I arrived, but I did get to see a few distant Bald Eagles, a distant Golden Eagle, a distant Northern Harrier, and a distant Cooper's Hawk. A fast flying Merlin zoomed by before I could even get my camera to my eye, and I saw a good number of Sharp-shinned Hawks - a few came fairly close to us.