Highland County, VA 6/15/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich


Walt Childs and I headed over to the Allegheny Mountains along the western edge of Highland County, Va. Our target birds were a Mourning Warbler at Patty Knob, and a male Golden-winged Warbler at Margaret O'Bryan's place north of Blue Grass, Va.

Although we did not locate either of our target birds, I saw a new life bird, Ruffed Grouse, that I had only previously heard but never had seen. Counting a few species we saw on our trip through Augusta County on the way, we logged 51 species. Not a bad birding day!


View from Route 640

Our first stop was Paddy Knob. Along the gravel fire road 55 from route 84, we stopped when we saw a Ruffed Grouse on the road ahead of us. I tried to get some photos through the car windshield, and then getting part way out of the car, but the running engine vibrations made for poor photos. But it was a new life bird for me.

When we arrived at the locations where the Mourning Warblers are often seen, we saw lots of birds, but not our target. There were Chestnut-sided Warblers everywhere, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-capped Chickadees, and a number of other species. Two more Ruffed Grouse flew out of the tall grasses just a few feet in front of me. We also saw a very large, but dead, Timber Rattlenake on the fire road.


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Black-capped Chickadee


American Redstart

On the way back down the fire road, we turned a corner and there was another Ruffed Grouse on the road. I stopped the car rather quickly, and it skidded downhill on the gravel about five to ten feet before stopping. Walt plans to tell everyone that we skidded for a quarter of a mile :-) The skidding car did not bother the Ruffed Grouse, and this time I stopped the engine and took photos as I leaned out the car window.


Ruffed Grouse


Ruffed Grouse


Ruffed Grouse


Ruffed Grouse

We decided to take route 640 to Blue Grass. Along the way we saw lots of birds in addition to some bucolic scenery. We saw two Savannah Sparrows, a Vesper Sparrow, a female American Kestrel, 20+ Brown Thrashers, and lots more. As we approched route 250 (Hightown), Walt told me to be on the lookout for Red-headed Woodpeckers. Immediately past the intersection of 250 and 640, there was a Red-headed Woodpecker sitting on a post - almost as if Walt had pre-arranged the woodpecker to be there.

When we got to Margaret O'Bryan's place a little after noon, we were disppointed that we did not see any Golden-winged Warblers, but there were lots of birds there, and we added a Common Yellowthroat and a Yellow Warbler to out warbler tally. After driving around the area for a while, we headed back, and stopped at a few places along the way. At Ramsey's Draft we added our fifth woodpecker and our fifth warbler of the day (a Hairy Woodpecker and a Louisiana Waterthrush).


Savannah Sparrow


Savannah Sparrow


Vesper Sparrow


Red-headed Woodpecker


Red-headed Woodpecker


Red-headed Woodpecker


Yellow Warbler


Yellow Warbler


Cedar Waxwing


House Sparrow


House Wren


Northern Rough-winged Swallow


Tiger Swallowtail


Louisiana Waterthrush

Today's List (51 species):
Killdeer
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Pileated Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Hairy Woodpecker
Flicker
Red-headed Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Wood-Pewee
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Black-capped Chickadee
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Starling
Blue Jay
Blue-headed Vireo
Louisiana Waterthrush
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
House Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Orchard Oriole
Eastern Meadowlark
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch
American Kestrel
Ruffed Grouse



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