Rockfish Valley Trail 9/29/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich


Rain and a weak cold front moved through the area last night. When I arrived at the trail a little before 8:30, there was dense fog that persisted for about another hour. However, the birds were already active under the dark skies. Walt Childs arrived a few minutes later, and the two of us logged 54 species including 11 warbler species, plus two unidentified species.

The sun came out around 10:30, and we met William Leigh, Peter Brask, and three other birders on the trail. Their morning list, also of 54 species, had 11 species that Walt and I had not seen, including Canada and Black-throated Blue Warblers, Dickcissel, Bobolink, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Merlin, and Lincoln Sparrow.

Thus we saw a combined 13 warbler species on the trail this morning, and there have been 108 species (including 25 warbler species) on the trail this month. In addition, one of our RVT birding committee members, Gordon Dalton, lives less than a mile from the trail, and he had three other warbler species in his yard while we were on the trail: Yellow-throated, Northern Parula, and Blackburnian, making it 16 warbler species in our local area this morning.


Red-tailed Hawk in the early morning fog

The Warblers

The first warbler we saw was a Black-throated Green, and we saw at least five of them near the first wooden bridge.


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler

There were Palm Warblers all along the east side of Reids Creek.


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler

We saw a few Common Yellowthroats in the usual locations where we have had this species as a summer resident. But when we hiked the east side of Reids Creek and neared the second wooden bridge, we saw a migrating flock of 20+ Common Yellowthroats: males, females, and immature birds.


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat

There were Magnolia Warblers all along the east side of Reids Creek.


Magnolia Warbler


Magnolia Warbler


Magnolia Warbler - notice the unusual undertail pattern


Magnolia Warbler


Magnolia Warbler

There have been a lot of Tennessee Warblers on the trail during the past week, but we only saw a few this morning.


Tennessee Warbler


Tennessee Warbler

We saw a few Nashville Warblers scattered along the east side of Reids Creek.


Nashville Warbler


Nashville Warbler


Nashville Warbler


Nashville Warbler

It took me a while to identify a Wilson's Warbler that was hiding in the brush.


Wilson's Warbler


Wilson's Warbler


Wilson's Warbler


Wilson's Warbler


Wilson's Warbler

We saw a single male American Redstart.


Male American Redstart

When we met William Leigh et.al. on the trail, they told us that that had seen a Prairie Warbler just north of where we were on the east side of Reids Creek. William showed me a photo of it on his camera viewer, and it looked like an adult. Walt and I did not see that bird where the other group had seen it, but near the first wooden bridge, we saw an immature Prairie Warbler. Notice the gray auriculars on this bird.


Immature Prairie Warbler


Immature Prairie Warbler


Immature Prairie Warbler


Immature Prairie Warbler


Immature Prairie Warbler


Immature Prairie Warbler


Immature Prairie Warbler


Immature Prairie Warbler

It was getting time for me to have to leave for home, but I wanted to explore the west side of Reids Creek near the first wooden bridge for a few minutes. Walt and I saw our tenth warbler of the morning there - a Chestnut-sided Warbler.


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler

On the way back to my car, a juvenile Cape May Warbler popped up out of the brush and landed on a nearby tree branch.


Juvenile Cape May Warbler


Juvenile Cape May Warbler

We saw an unidentified warbler during our hike on the trail. At the south end of the Glenthorne Loop trail on the west side of Reids Creek, a warbler caught my attention as it was jumping down from low in the brush to hide. All I saw was its backside before it was gone - a solid green back, a yellow breast (from what I could see), and a gray nape and head. Nashville, Magnolia, Mourning, and Connecticut Warblers are all possibilities, but it did not re-appear. It was in the right type of low, brushy vegetation for Mourning and Connecticut, and the Mourning Warbler that I saw on the trail last week was in the same area on the east side of Reids Creek.


Unidentified warbler

Other Birds

Of course, there were a lot of other birds to see on the trail this morning, and here are a few of the photos.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak


Blue Grosbeak


Blue-headed Vireo


Swainson's Thrush


Warbling Vireo


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


White-throated Sparrow



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