Highland County, VA 6/27/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich


I wanted to take advantage of a second consecutive day of beautiful birding weather. The temperatures were a bit warmer than yesterday, but the air was still dry, and there was plenty of bright sunshine. I made the hour and 45 minute drive to Cowpasture Rd. in Highland County, where Walt Childs and I had seen Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers a week earlier. Although I had gotten several Golden-winged Warbler photos in the past five weeks, I wasn't quite sure if any of them were 100% Golden-winged, and not Brewster's (Golden-winged X Blue-winged hybrids). I really wanted to photograph a male Golden-winged that clearly showed the dark auricular and throat patches.

I knew that unless I were really lucky to get photos of birds on the west side of the narrow gravel road, I would be shooting into deep shadows at high ISO or into bright morning sunlight. I arrived at the green farm house at 10:15 and parked off the road there. The owner had invited Walt and me to come back any time. The house was about 1/8 mile from where we had seen the warblers last time, and I spent 30 minutes walking slowly to that location and back to the car.

There were lots of birds singing, but most were difficult to locate in the tree canopies. To make matters worse, a logging truck or other large vehicle came barrelling down the road every two to five minutes, raising a large cloud of dust that lingered in the air for a couple of minutes.

On my first round trip I thought I heard some warblers, but every time I tried to locate them, a truck sped by. On my second trip, I did photograph one warbler, but the photo was dark, and all I could discern on my camera view finder was that it had a yellow throat and a white eye-ring.


Female Northern Parula

By the time I made my third round trip, the number of vehicles had quieted down a bit, and I got a lot of photos of a male Northern Parula. This was a real treat for me. Although I had taken some really good photos of a Northern Parula last autumn, those were either of a female or a male with veiled chest band, and I really wanted photos of a male showing its bright chestnut chest band. Even in the difficult lighting, I was able to get some decent photos.


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula


Male Northern Parula

On my fourth and final (my plan at that moment) round trip, I was treated to a male Northern Parula feeding a juvenile. That was really cool to see, and as I headed back to my car, I was a bit disappointed not seeing a Golden-winged Warbler, but felt that the Northern Parula photos made the trip worthwhile.


Male and juvenile Northern Parulas


Male and juvenile Northern Parulas


Male and juvenile Northern Parulas


Juvenile Northern Parulas


Male and juvenile Northern Parulas

It was now a little past noon, and I ate a quick lunch at my car, before making the retrun trip home. Then I thought that I had just eaten lunch, the Northern Partulas were eating lunch, and perhaps the Golden-winged Warblers might be doing the same thing. So I made my last trip down the road, hopeful, but not expecting to find a male Golden-winged Warbler.

I was wrong! Part way down the road, a Golden-winged Warbler landed on a small tree branch about ten feet in front of me just above eye level. By the time I raised my camera and tried to focus on it, it flew away. I follwed its path into the trees, and much to my happy surprise, there were two male Golden-winged Warblers. One appeared to be an adult and the other a first spring male, and the adult was feeding the younger bird.


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warbler


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warbler


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warblers


Golden-winged Warbler


Golden-winged Warbler


Golden-winged Warbler



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