Charlottesville, VA; Blue Ridge Parkway 5/5/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich


Although I have been fairly successfull with birding here in the Rockfish Valley and surrounding mountains (my Wintergreen area), I have never had good luck birding in nearby Charlottesville, even though there are some excellent birding locations there. I had an early morning apppointment and a late morning errand in Charlottesville this morning, so I decided to do some birding in between. I have been wanting to try looking for warblers on Observatory Hill since last autumn, and there have been good warbler reports there and at the Ivy Creek Natural Area.

I must have hit every red light and traffic jam both on the way to and from my early morning appointment, so I did not get to Observatory Hill until 9:30 a.m. - all I heard were a few birds deep in the wooded area, so I left after 10 minutes for Ivy Creek. When I arrived at the Ivy Creek parking area, there were four bus loads of elementary school students that had just arrived and were being split up into smaller groups to go every possible direction on the trails there. All of the birds went into hiding. The highlight for me was watching a small red fox running for cover. I tried hiking off the trails, but every time I turned a corner there was a group of kids getting a lecture or making a lot of noise. After 30 minutes I headed over to the field loop past the educational building - a few birds were there. I saw a Red-eyed Vireo and my FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee, but after another 30 minutes, I had enough of non-birding, and headed west.


Red-eyed Vireo


Eastern Wood-Pewee

As I was already on I-64, I decided to pass my exit and take the highway to the Blue Ridge Parkway (the western edge of my Wintergreen area) to see what might be there mid-day. My first stop was at the cirque between mile markers 7 and 8. This spot seems to be the best location for warblers along the first 14 miles of the parkway. The Canada Warbler was still in the same place as it has been for the past 2 to 3 weeks. There were a lot of American Redstarts, especially females, and I saw a lone Black and White Warbler. The Rose-breasted Grosbeak that I have been seeing there made an appearance, and one of the prettiest Scarlet Tanagers I have ever seen was there as well - it had bright fiery-orange color.


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Black and White Warbler


Black and White Warbler


Black and White Warbler


Rose-breasted Grosbeak


Scarlet Tanager


Scarlet Tanager


Scarlet Tanager

Next stop was Hickory Springs overlook (mm 12), where I usually see Cerulean Warblers - there were at least 3 or 4 of them, and more American Redstarts - mostly males.


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


American Redstart


American Redstart


American Redstart

I gues that when it comes to birding, there is no place like home!



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