Rockfish Valley Trail 5/18/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich

It has been raining here off and on for a week, and the forecast is for the unstable weather to continue through tomorrow. We had four inches of rain yesterday, and another inch of rain during the night. A real bummer as this is right in the middle of our spring bird migration period. The radar did not show rain for this morning, so I headed out to the trail. The grass was tall and very wet in places. The sky alternated suddenly back and forth from dark overcast to steamy sunshine.

I hiked the upstream and downstream trails, and the Glenthorne Loop trail to the bog area, from 9:00 to 10:20, and although there weren't a lot of birds out and about, I did manage to see 25 species during this first part of my hike. Highlight was a Grasshopper Sparrow sitting on a fence post on the upstream trail - the other species were common trail birds seen where I usually see them.

Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Downy Woodpecker
American Goldfinch
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Carolina Wren
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Bluebird
Red-winged Blackbird
Northern Cardinal
Turkey Vulture
American Crow
Northern Mockingbird
Tree Swallow
Barn swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Indigo Bunting
Rock Pigeon
Tufted Titmouse

Grasshopper Sparrow

Indigo Bunting

I then decided to drive down and explore the southern end of the Glenthorne Loop trail - this has been the best place for warblers on the trail so far this year. I heard a warbler song that I could not identify, and a minute later a warbler hopped up on a branch right in front of me:

Unidentified Warbler 1

Unidentified Warbler 1

My first reaction was that it was probably a female Common Yellowthroat, but after looking at the photos, I am not sure. The split eye-ring and slightly lighter yellow rump could make it an Orange-crowned Warbler. There is a hint of orange color in this bird's crown, and the song I had heard sounded like the recording I have (Sibley's app) of an Orange-crowned. The only problem is that this bird has pink legs like a Common Yellowthroat, and not the dark legs of an Orange-crowned. I then crossed the second wooden bridge to see if I could re-locate this warbler from the other side, but saw a different warbler. This second warbler looks more like a female Common Yellowthroat with a complete eye-ring, but it has dark legs, and not pink legs. It also has some blurry breast streaking that might be found on an Orange-crowned Warbler. So I would appreciate any opinions on these two warblers.

Unidentified Warbler 2

Unidentified Warbler 2

In a nearby tree, some movement caught my eye - it was a first spring male American Redstart - note the dark blotches on its breast, head, and lores.

First spring male American Redstart

I then headed back to my car, and as soon as I got into the car and closed the door, it started to rain. That was a surprise given my recent birding luck with respect to the weather.

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