Rockfish Valley Trail 11/3/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich


My body was still on British time. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., and decided to take advantage of the time and go to the trail early this morning. I arrived just before sunrise around 7:00 a.m., but was not prepared for the early morning cold as the forecast was for the low 60's later in the day. When I arrived, there was light frost on the ground and low ground fog. But it was beautiful. Within a few minutes, the longer red wavelengths of the sunlight behind the Ragged Mountains to the east was refracted and illuminated Three Ridges and other mountains to the west with a pink wash. Soon afterwards, the first rays of sunlight changed pink into gold. I headed upstream first, as I knew that downstream birds needed to wait for the sun to get higher into the sky.


Eastern Bluebird in the early morning ground fog


Red-tailed Hawk bathed in gold

As I neared the western end of the upsteam trail I noticed a flash of white against the tree line of the southwest corner of the field. I first thought it was a White-tailed Deer, and when I raised my camera a few moments later, I saw that it was a coyote! Wish I had paid more attention to the white flash and had gotten a better photo.


Coyote

The rest of the hike was not very eventful, and I ended up with seeing 25 species on the trail this morning. I did have some excitement on the east side of Reids Creek. I heard what I thought was a hawk just behind me where I had walked a minute earlier, although it did not sound like a hawk that I was familiar with - the call was a bit deeper than that of a Red-tailed or Red-shouldered Hawk. As I walked back a few feet, two juvenile hawks flew out of a tree and across Reids Creek and out of my view. But I did get a good look at their undersides - almost totally unstreaked creamy white breasts and bellies, and bold, broad, evenly sized black and white tail bands. Tail length seemed a bit short for an Accipiter, and too long for a Buteo. Not sure what kind of hawk they were.


Swamp Sparrow


Vesper Sparrow


Female Red-bellied Woodpecker

This morning's list (25 species):

American Crow
Canada Goose
Eastern Bluebird
Blue Jay
Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
American Goldfinch
Red-tailed Hawk
Unidentified Hawk
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Pileated Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Flicker
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Cardinal
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Carolina Wren
Carolina Chickadee



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