Rockfish Valley Trail 3/14/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich


I hoped that the 80 degree temperatures combined with the light southerly breezes might bring some earlier-than-usual migratory species to the trail, and daylight savings time meant that I would be on the trail an hour earlier than usual. I logged 25 species this morning, but all except one were usual permanent, winter, or early spring species. There was a lot of avian activity, and the birds were singing to the warm sunshine. The Tree Swallows buzzed me when I hiked near to one of their nest boxes, and they had their typical mid-air debates.

At 9:41 EDT, I entered the bog area from the south end, and as soon as I crossed the small wooden path bridge, a bird flew up right in front of me, headed out through the north end of the bog, and circled back into the bog and settled in deep vegetation in the southwest end of the bog area. I could not relocate it.

I did get a quick, but very good look at it. The bird was about the size of a pigeon, but perhaps a bit smaller, and much stockier. Its back was strongly patterned with black and deep rufous brown, with a few white flecks. As it flew away, it briefly turned its head part way to look at me, and I saw a long, slightly down-curved, yellow bill. Had to be either a King Rail or a Virginia Rail. Based on its size, I would go with Virginia Rail. They are rare birds here, and usually don't appear until mid-April. I was only able to get one poor photo of it as it flew away from me.


Tree Swallows


Tree Swallows


Field Sparrow


Eastern Bluebird


Field Sparrow


Red-winged Blackbird


Yellow-rumped Warbler


Virginia Rail

This morning's list (25 species):

Eastern Bluebird
Tree Swallow
Northern Cardinal
American Crow
Rock Pigeon
Eastern Meadowlark
Virginia Rail
American Goldfinch
White-throated Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Phoebe
Northern Mockingbird
Carolina Wren
Blue Jay
Starling
Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Pileated Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse


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