Blue Ridge Parkway 5/18/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich


Today was a big loop day for me on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My usual 46 mile loop is to take route 151 north to route 250 west to mile marker 0 on the parkway, head south to Reids Gap just before mm. 14, then east on route 664 to route 151 north to my home. Today, I decided to take the parkway south all the way to mm. 27 (route 56), and then east on route 56 to route 151, returning home on route 151 over Brent Pass. I wanted to make a stop at Spy Rock in Montebello on route 56 - they report that Golden-winged Warblers are sometimes seen there. All along the parkway I saw and heard common woodland species: Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhees, Eastern Phoebes and Wood-Pewees, etc.

My first stop was the the cirque between mm. 7 and 8, where I saw American Redstart, Canada, Worm-eating, and Blackpoll Warblers.


Blackpoll Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Canada Warbler

At Dripping Rock Overlook, I saw more American Redstarts and Cerulean Warblers.


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler

At Hickory Springs Overlook, there were more Redstarts, Cerulean Warblers, and Hooded Warblers.


Hooded Warbler


American Redstart


American Redstart

Near mm. 14, a short distance past Reids Gap, there were more Redstarts, Cerulean, and Worm-eating Warblers.


Worm-eating Warbler


Female American Redstart

A Broad-winged Hawk was making a nose dive - it was going after two other Broad-winged Hawks, and all of them were doing aerial battle.


Broad-winged Hawk


Broad-winged Hawk


Broad-winged Hawk


Broad-winged Hawk


Broad-winged Hawks


Broad-winged Hawks

There were more American Redstarts and Worm-eating Warblers at several locations between mm. 14 and 27. I arrived at the Spy Rock Trail at 11:30 a.m., and started the climb up the trail. This trail is part of the Appalachian Trail, and along the way I met a few hikers that had already hiked 810 miles on their way to Mt. Katadin at the north end of the AT. After 45 minutes I had hiked uphill more than I had wanted to, and met a hiker who told me that I was only about half way to Spy Rock, and the trail got more rugged and much steeper. I decided that it was time to head back down the trail without going all the way up. All I was seeing were a few common woodland species and a few American Redstarts.


American Redstart


Eastern Towhee

While I was on my way east on route 56 to route 151, I passed Cub Creek Road, and knew that it was a short-cut over the mountain to route 664. I have been on the this road a short distance from route 664 before, but never on this side of the mountain, so I decided to turn around and try the short-cut. Bad idea. After about a mile of paved road, it turned into a bumpy, curvy, gravel road all the way up to the mountain crest. I could only drive 20 to 25 mph. But it was shorter!

After reaching 151, I decided to make a short visit to the Rockfish Valley Trail. It was already 1:30, and I only stayed there about 20 minutes and saw about ten species.


Song Sparrow

When I got home, I checked on the Red-shouldered Hawk's nest in my backyard. Papa was minding the nest, but was not very happy when he noticed me. After letting out a loud squawk, he flew down right over my head and then perched in a tree higher up. I let him know that I did not appreciated his rude welcome.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk



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