Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch; Rockfish Valley Trail 10/21/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich


I was up at the hawk watch from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. It was cold and very windy. Sharp-shinned Hawks were in the air almost all the time, and they were really struggling to make their way through the bluster. There were a few other raptors there as well.


Sharp-shinned Hawk


Cooper's Hawk


Bald Eagle


Red-tailed Hawk


Common Raven

I hadn't planned on going to the Rockfish Valley Trail today, but when I got home there was an e-mail with the report of an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Lincoln's Sparrow on the downstream trail just east of the picnic table. The only other known sighting of an OC Warbler in Nelson County was one that I photographed on October 15, 2008 in just about the same location. So I headed down to the trail. When I arrived at 4:00 there was a lot of avian activity, but it pretty much died down by 5:15. Although I was only looking for unusual trail visitors and not keeping good track of what species I had seen, I remember at least 21 species that I saw this afternoon.

Although I saw neither the OC Warbler nor the Lincoln's Sparrow, I did get a quick look at a warbler that I cannot identify from the poor photos. This warbler clearly has a gray head, a complete white eye-ring, and a pale yellow and lightly streaked belly. The yellow breast could be an out-of-focus leaf in the foreground. There are several possibilities, and I would appreciate opinions.


Unidentifed Warbler

Here are some more photos from this afternoon. I was surprised to see a female Blue Grosbeak this late in the season.


Female Blue Grosbeak


Song Sparrow with bold streaks and buffy eye ring


Chipping Sparrow with bold winter plumage


Immature White-crowned Sparrow


Immature White-crowned Sparrow


Brown Thrasher


Palm Warbler


Yellow-rumped Warbler


Eastern Meadowlark

This afternoon's RV Trail list (21 species):

Blue Grosbeak
American Crow
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Bluebird
Blue Jay
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
American Goldfinch
Northern Cardinal
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Brown Thrasher


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