Rockfish Valley Trail 6/27/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich


My orginal plan for this morning was to head over to a new-for-me site in Augusta County to see where else there might be a good summer birding spot in the area, but the weather forecast of increasing clouds followed by rain changed my mind, as I did not want to drive 100 miles round trip to look at rain and not birds. Instead, I decided to see what might be on the Rockfish Valley Trail very early in the morning. I usually arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m., but got there at 7:00 this morning. There was a light cloud cover, but heavy fog after last night's rain. The grass was very wet, and my boots were soon waterlogged.

I started off on the east side of Reid's Creek on the Glenthorne Loop trail, and by 7:30 the sun had burned off the fog, except for the west side of the creek and along route 627, where shadows and fog persisted until about 8:30. It was definitely cooler this early in the morning, but this summer's crop of flies were up and about by the time I got there.

It turned out to be a remarkable birding day for me. I hiked Glenthorne Loop (some parts twice), upstream and downstream trails, and part of the Spruce Creek trail. By 8:30, heavier clouds started to roll in, but I stayed until 10:00. Yesterday on the trail, I had a great afternoon, logging 28 species between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. : 6/26/11 blog page

Eastern Bluebird
Indigo Bunting
Blue Grosbeak
American Crow
Turkey Vulture
Field Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
American Goldfinch
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Eastern Kingbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Great Blue Heron
Eastern Meadowlark
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Carolina Chickadee
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Flicker
Cedar Waxwing

This morning I saw 25 of yesterday's 28 species - all but the Louisiana Waterthrush, Cedar Waxwing, and Flicker.


Great Blue Heron


Carolina Chickadee


Common Yellowthroat


House Finch


White-eyed Vireo


Turkey Vulture


Turkey Vulture

In addition, I saw another 14 species this morning that I had not seen yesterday afternoon, bringing my morning total to 39 species, and my 24-hour total to 42. This is not even close to Tim H.'s 101 species on the trail in a 24-hour period, but it was a birding "big day" for me. I have seen all of these 14 species after 8:30 in the morning this summer, so getting to the trail very early in the morning is not required, unless you prefer cooler temperatures.

American Redstart
Carolina Wren
Catbird
Common Grackle
Black Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Green Heron
Orchard Oriole
Yellow-breasted Chat
Song Sparrow
Downy Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse
Mourning Dove


Black Vulture


Green Heron


Juvenile Common Grackle


Juvenile Common Grackle


Yellow-breasted Chat


Orchard Oriole


American Redstart

Based on its bill length, I thought that I had seen a Hairy Woodpecker this morning, but after inspecting the photos, the black tail bars suggest a Downy Woodpecker, although Hairy Woodpeckers can rarely exhibit this feature.


Downy Woodpecker

Mixed in with a large flock of Vultures was a Cooper's Hawk.


Cooper's Hawk and Vultures

And there was an unusual looking Song Sparrow mixed in with some other Song sparrows. This one had yellow lores, and a small pointed and pinkish bill. Could it be a rare summer Savannah Sparrow? Probably not, as it also has a long rufous tail, and a Song Sparrow is the more likely choice.


Song Sparrow

Considering another 18 recently seen species following the spring migration period, one can possibly see 60 or more species this summer on the Rockfish Valley Trail. In addition to the 42 species seen in the past 24 hours and listed above, I have logged the following species during the past few weeks:

Pileated Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Cowbird
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Kingfisher
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Scarlet Tanager
Canada Goose
Grasshopper Sparrow
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Blue Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin
Starling



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