Rockfish Valley Trail 9/22/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich


After seeing 40 species yesterday, including six warbler and four vireo species, I was chomping at the bit to see what might on the the trail today. I awoke to heavy ground fog, but most of the fog cleared quickly under partly sunny skies.

I arrived at the trail at 8:30, and headed upstream to where I had seen three warbler and one vireo species yesterday. I normally only go upstream after going downstream and hiking Glenthorne Loop, but yesterday's concentration of species upstream changed my mind.

This morning, however, there wasn't much going on - seemed strange for such a nice birding day during migration, but there weren't a lot of birds out and about. No one had told me that today was "RAPTOR DAY" on the trail, but I was to find out later on my hike. The day ended with my logging 31 species.


Flicker


Field Sparrow


Praying Mantis

After not seeing much upstream, I headed downstream and saw a fast flying Sharp-shinned Hawk heading south for the winter. And then I saw a Broad-winged Hawk circling and then heading south, the first of two Broad-winged Hawks that I would see this morning. After hiking Glenthorne Loop to the second wooden bridge, and only seeing some of the common species and no warblers, I headed back on the west side of Reids Creek. As I approached the bog area, I heard a Red-tailed Hawk in the distance, and wondered if I would see it after circling the bog area.

After completing the trip around the big area, I saw a Red-shouldered Hawk in a tree along the downstream trail, and it was soon joind by a second one. And then the Red-tailed Hawk did a flyover. Gee, four species of hawks in a short period of time.


Sharp-shinned Hawk


Broad-winged Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawks


Red-tailed Hawk

Even though I have taken a few photos of Merlins, they have not been very good, and one of my targets for the past four years has been to get a good Merlin photo. I can now cross that off my list. Just after seeing the hawks, I looked up and saw a smaller raptor perched in a downstream trail tree. And it had a Bluebird in its talons. Sad for the Bluebird, but that is all part of nature.


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin

After seeing all these raptors, I thought that my morning of birding was finished, but I headed back upstream a bit, and when I got back to my car, there was a small flock of Cape May Warblers across the Rockfish River from the kiosk. Adult males, females, and first year birds, and they put on quite a show for me.


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler

This morning's list:

Eastern Bluebird
Indigo Bunting
American Crow
Catbird
Starling
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
Cape May Warbler
Rock Pigeon
Pileated Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Flicker
Blue Jay
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Tufted Titmouse
Belted Kingfisher
Cedar Waxwing
American Goldfinch
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Merlin



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