Crozet, VA 3/10/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich


Two of my favorite birding areas outside of my Wintergreen area are in Crozet, VA. Mint Springs Park is great for warblers and other migrating birds from the middle of spring through autumn. The hiking path and lake in the Western Ridge subdivision is always good for seeing a number of species. I am not sure how much the residents appreciate non-resident birders, but I usually meet and talk with some of the residents while birding there, and they don't seem to mind if an occasional non-resident is birding there, and they appreciate my telling them about the local wildlife that I saw that day. I usually go to the Crozet area only a few time each year, as most of the species I see there can also be seen in my Wintegreen area without making the half hour drive to Crozet.

The weather forecast for today was excellent, and I decided to make the drive to see if any migrating waterfowl might be on the Western Ridge lake. I had high hopes for success - going north on route 151, a Red-tailed Hawk, followed by two Great Blue Herons, flew across the road in front of me, and not too high above my eye level. On route 250, I stopped at one of the local ponds to take a look at a couple of male Hooded Mergansers.


Male Hooded Merganser



As soon as I started hiking on the path to the Western Ridge lake, I saw lots of birds and heard even more. Every time I have been there I have seen a Red-shouldered Hawk.This morning was no exception. I wasn't working hard to observe most of the birds as I was concentrating on getting to the lake to look for waterfowl. But by the time I left an hour later, I had logged 22 species and heard another one that I could not identify. At the south end of the lake, there is a large area of shallow water filled with small trees and brushy vegetation. I heard two birds calling each other, Bleep! Bleep!, but I couldn't locate either one of them to see what they were.


Red-shouldered Hawk


The highlight of this morning happened as I started to work my way back to the trail leading to my car. Across the lake near the south end, I saw a large bird sitting high up in a tree - perhaps a Vulture? And then I remembered that last year, one of the residents told me that there often was a Bald Eagle at that end of the lake. Sure enough - that's what it was. And not too far from where it was sitting there was a large nest - perhaps the eagle's?? It sat perched in the tree, and every once in a while looked down into the lake, perhaps checking for some fish for breakfast. I decided to stick around to see if it would dive for fish, but after a while the Bald Eagle noticed me across the lake, flew from its perch, and circled low over my head several times to check me out. Taking the photos was easy - deciding which photos to keep and process out of 200 eagle shots was the hard part!


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle

This morning's list at Western Ridge (22 species):

Eastern Bluebird
Northen Mockingbird
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-throated Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Phoebe
Red-winged Blackbird
Carolina Wren
Blue Jay
Killdeer
American Robin
Canada Goose
Unknown Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Bald Eagle


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