Rockfish Valley Trail 3/2/11

It was a beautiful morning for birding on the Rockfish Valley Trail - bright sunshine and cool, but not cold, temperatures. Although it is still a bit early for really good birding on the trail, I logged 19 species in a little more than one hour. I arrived at 8:45, and the first thing I noticed were Eastern Phoebes near the kiosk. The Rock Pigeon was in her nest under the route 151 bridge, and a couple of Red-winged Blackbirds were calling along the downstream trail. Eastern Bluebirds were picking their bird houses, and I could hear American Crows mobbing a Red-tailed or Red-shouldered Hawk far down the Glenthorne Loop trail.

As I walked along the downstream trail, a hawk flew up from the river bed, and headed low above the water far down the river. I only got a quick look at its back, and thought it might be a juvenile Cooper's Hawk, but as you will read later, it was probably a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk.

There were 30 to 40 Cedar Waxwings in the trees, lots of Blue Jays, a few Song Sparrows in the tall grasses and lots of White-throated Sparrows in the bog area. Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, Dark-eyed Juncos, American Robins, and Turkey Vultures all made appearances. There was a Pileated Woodpecker and Red-bellied Woodpecker in the bog area.

Eastern Bluebird

Cedar Waxwings

As I walked back the downstream trail toward the kiosk, I could see a juvenile hawk high up in one of the trees. It was partially hidden by tree branches, and I couldn't get a good look at its tail. Was it the same juvenile hawk I had seen flying down the river? I tried to get some photos of it from different vantage points, always under the watchful eye of this hawk. Finally, as if it realized that I wanted a better look at it, it flew from its perch low and directly over my head so I could get a better look at it on its way to the bog area. No question now - the translucent crescent shape near its wing tips meant it was a Red-shouldered Hawk

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

On the way home I saw a couple of Black Vultures, and then I stopped at a few lakes and ponds here in Stoney Creek to look for ducks. I didn't see any, but added a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a White-breasted Nuthatch to my morning list. I did see a few chickadees, probably all Carolina as Black-capped Chickadees are uncommon here. However, one of the chickadees seemed a bit larger than the others, had a very uneven bib, and fairly white-edged greater coverts. If anyone thinks that this might be a Black-capped Chickadee, please let me know. [Update: I now have multiple opinions that it is a Black-capped Chickadee.]

[Black-capped] Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

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