Blue Ridge Parkway 5/4-5/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich


The weather hasn't been very cooperative for seeking out migrating warblers this month. April was dry instead of wet, and May has been wet instead of dry. There was almost uniform cloud cover this morning, making it difficult to find and photograph warblers in the tree canopies, but the cloud cover also meant that the birds were out and about until well after noon.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway, I first stopped at mm.5 a little way before the Humpback Rocks visitor center. I heard American Redstarts and Ovenbirds, but it was so dark there that the only bird I saw was a bright red Scarlet Tanager.

Next stop was at one of my two favorite warbler sites on the first 14 miles of the BRP - the large cirque at mm.7-8 a little ways before the Humpback Rocks picnic area. As usual, I pulled over to the left shoulder and parked my car near the "curved road' sign. As my car came to a complete stop, a warbler-sized bird flew into the trees from just a few feet away from me, and I got a good but very quick look at it. It had a brown back, white corners on its tail tips, and a flash of red on its flanks. I don't recall seeing wing bars, but perhaps they were there - could it have been an elusive Bay-breasted Warbler? I didn't see it again, and got no response from playing the songs of a Bay-breasted on my Ipod Touch.

This location was a great place for warblers - Chestnut-sided, Cerulean, American Redstart, Hooded, and Black&White were all there, along with other birds such as Scarlet Tanagers, Phoebes, Gnatcatchers, Indigo Buntings, and more. After about 45 minutes, I headed over to my other good warbler spot - Hickory Springs overlook at mm.12. There were Cerulean, American Redstart, and Hooded at this location, and I was able to photograph two different Cerulean females in their nests. I also got a number of photographs of an unidentified bird - looks like it could be a vireo or perhaps a Tennesee Warbler, but the bird was strongly backlit by the cloud-diffused sun, and I can't be sure. I stayed on the parkway from about 9:00 a.m. until 12:30, and logged 21 species plus the two unidentified birds. A list follows some photos, and then there is an afternoon report on the Red-shouldered Hawk's nest in my backyard, and a brief return to the parkway on May 5.


Scarlet Tanager


Scarlet Tanager


Scarlet Tanager


Scarlet Tanager


Black&White Warbler


Black&White Warbler


Black&White Warbler


Female Cerulean Warbler


Female Cerulean Warbler


Male Cerulean Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Hooded Warbler


Hooded Warbler


Hooded Warbler


Hooded Warbler


Female American Redstart


Female American Redstart


Female American Redstart


Male American Redstart


Male American Redstart


Yellow-throated Vireo


Unidentified Vireo/Warbler

This morning's list (21 species):

American Redstart
Black and White Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Ovenbird
Tufted Titmouse
Scarlet Tanager
Yellow-throated Vireo
Indigo Bunting
Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Towhee
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Phoebe
American Goldfinch
Cowbird
American Crow
Common Raven
American Robin

In the afternoon, I checked on the Red-shouldered Hawk's nest in my back yard. Mama has been sitting on the edge of the nest for two days now, after sitting on the nest for more than a month. I saw her poking her head into the nest, and she brought out what looks like a dead little one. Hope that she is taking good care of her eggs and babies.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk

May 5th update: It wasn't supposed to rain until mid- to late afternoon, and I was eager to try to re-locate the possible Bay-breasted Warbler on the parkway. I got there at 8:50, saw American Redstarts and a Black&White Warbler, and got some good photos of a female Scarlet Tanager. After 15 minutes it started to rain, and the rest of the morning was a washout.


Female Scarlet Tanager



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