Post-superstorm Sandy Birding 10/30-31/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Stoney Creek 10/30/12

We dodged a bullet as we did not get the full force of hurricane Sandy that merged with a cold front to form a superstorm that moved up the eastern United States. We had 36 hours of strong winds and about three inches of rain. All of the local areas above 2000 foot elevation had snow and were in blizzard conditions. The wind died down a bit this afternoon, and in between periods of drizzle I headed out to see what birds might be out and about. Most of the birds were still hunkered down, but there were flurries of activity at our backyard bird feeder. We had Carolina Chickadees, Purple Finches, American Goldfinches, Tufted Titmice, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, American Crows, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the feeder or on the ground below the feeder. At one point about 15 to 20 Pine Siskins were fighting for spots to land at the feeder.


Pine Siskins - can you find 11 of them in this photo?

Rockfish Valley Trail 10/31/12

I arrived at the trail at 9:00 this morning. There was almost complete cloud cover. The temperature was in the 40's, and there were 10 to 15 m.p.h. winds with stronger gusts. I was dressed for the temperature but not for the wind chill, and quickly felt cold as I hiked the trail. It was weird to see higher elevation snow covered mountains behind lower elevation mountains with fall tree colors.

Most of the birds were still hunkered down, but by 9:30 the avian community decided that they were too hungry from being hunkered down, and the trail became alive with lots and lots of birds - especially sparrows - I logged 10 sparrow species - most of them were in the brushy vegetation mid-way along the downstream trail just before the picnic table, and in the brush in and around the bog area and Yellow Bird Thicket. There were a pair of Savannah Sparrows and a Vesper Sparrow at the downstream location, and a small flock of Swamp Sparrows by the thicket.

By 10:30 I was very cold but had logged 33 species. I had an afternoon meeting at the Rockfish Valley Foundation HQ, and then spent another hour from 3:00 to 4:00 on the trail under partly sunny skies. The sparrows were still there, and I added four more species: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Great Blue Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Flicker. The 37 species I saw on the trail today did not include 4 species that I see on the trail almost all the time: Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Northern Mockingbird, and Black Vulture - they must have been hunkered down.


Morning on the trail


Vesper Sparrow


Vesper Sparrow


Vesper Sparrow


Savannah Sparrow


Savannah Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


White-crowned Sparrow


White-crowned Sparrow


White-throated Sparrow


Field Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Chipping Sparrow


Downy Woodpecker


Hairy Woodpecker


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Flicker


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-winged Blackbirds


Carolina Wren


Rock Pigeons posing for a group photo

Today's RV Trail list (37 species):

Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Towhee
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Flicker
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
American Crow
Starling
American Goldfinch
Purple Finch
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Blue Jay
Bluebird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Canada Goose
Belted Kingfisher
Great Blue Heron
Red-winged Blackbird
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon





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