Rockfish Valley Trail 9/14/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich


After yesterday's great day of birding at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, could it be possible to have another great day today on the trail? My results far exceeded my expectations. I arrived at the trail at 8:00, posted a couple of new photos on the kiosk, and headed downstream at 8:10. Before I even got to the picnic table, I had already logged 16 species:

Eastern Bluebird
Indigo Bunting
American Crow
Song Sparrow
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Northern Cardinal
Yellow Billed Cuckoo
Rock Pigeon
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
Cape May Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Pileated Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-eyed Vireo
Carolina Wren


Ruby-throated Hummingbirds


Pileated Woodpecker


Red-eyed Vireo


Scarlet Tanager


Cape May Warbler


Song Sparrow

Meeting up with spiders continues to be an adventure for me.


Spotted Orbweaver

As I approached Yellow Bird Thicket and rounded it, walking part way around the bog area, I added five more species: Catbird, Field Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Carolina Chickadee, and an unidentified hawk - probably the juvenile Red-shouldered that I saw there two days ago.

Little did I realize that the real fun was just around the corner. I crossed the first wooden bridge and starting walking south on the east side of Reids Creek. Very soon I encountered a tree where I heard a White-eyed Vireo. Not unusual - I have seen them along this path all summer long. But in the same tree there was a Warbling Vireo, and also a Yellow-throated Vireo.


Warbling Vireo


Yellow-throated Vireo


Yellow-throated Vireo


Yellow-throated Vireo

And then I saw an unusual warbler. It probably is a first fall male Common Yellowthroat, but it appears to have a pale reddish crown, and there was yellow on the leading edges of its wings. Is this common or unusual? Could it be a hybrid?


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat

But the fun was not over. A moment later I was photographing a wren that looked like a House Wren to me. Not unusual to see one on the trail, but I have not seen a single one on the trail this summer - only during previous summers. It looked like it was checking out a tree cavity. However, after looking at the photos on my computer, this might be a Winter Wren. Note the strong eye-ring, pale eyebrow, short bill, and especially the heavily barred, dark flanks. If it is a Winter Wren, September 14 matches the extreme early arrival date for Virginia. [UPDATE: I have heard from several birders that the long tail takes precedence over the heavily barred flanks, making it a House Wren.]


House Wren


House Wren


House Wren


House Wren


House Wren


House Wren

Along this section of the trail I also saw a Tufted Titmouse, a flock of birds that were either Starlings or Cedar Waxwings - I did not get a good look, and an early arrival of a migrating Swainson's Thrush.


Swainson's Thrush


Swainson's Thrush

I finished my less than two hour hike going part way along the upstream trail, adding Chipping Sparrows and a Belted Kingfisher. A very interesting 31 species on the trail this morning.



E-mail comments on this report


Return to blog page home