Central Virginia 11/13-14/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Stuart's Draft, VA - November 13, 2012

I don't often go chasing after a reported bird. However, both a Rough-legged Hawk and a male Northern Harrier were reported a couple of days ago near the intersection of Hall School and Lispcomb Roads. I had seen a Rough-legged Hawk there in previous years, but that is one species that I really enjoy seeing. Although I have good photos of both juvenile and female Northern Harriers, I have never even seen a "Gray Ghost" male, so the prospects of seeing both birds was enough of a draw for me.

I arrived a little after 1:00 p.m., and scanned the skies for both birds. There were a few Turkey Vultures and Crows, and then I saw a female Northern Harrier cruising low over one of the nearby fields.


Northern Harrier

I kept looking for the male and the RL Hawk, but after about an hour I decided to head elsewhere in the area. As soon as I turned onto Guthrie Road, I saw two Northern Harriers circling above a field. Both of them looked like juvenile females to me, but one of them was closer to having adult plumage as she had less rufous breast coloring.


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier

These two Harriers were working together. When one of them would land in the field, the other would land near it to see what it had caught. They appeared to be either training or playing as well.


Northern Harriers


Northern Harriers


Northern Harriers


Northern Harriers

I headed back to the intersection of Hall School and Lispcomb Roads to give it another try. Along the way I saw a Red-tailed Hawk on Route 340 and an American Kestrel on Mt.Vernon Road.


Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel

When I got back to the Lispcomb Road, I saw the same female Northern Harrier that I had seen earlier.


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier


Northern Harrier

At one point the Harrier flew right over two Eastern Meadowlarks, and they decided to wait it out in a tree in lieu of being mistaken for Harrier food. A couple of Starlings seemed to enjoy watching the show.


Eastern Meadowlarks


Starlings

On the way home, I stopped at the pond behind Kohl's and Target on route 340 at I-64. There weren't any birds in the pond, but there were at least seven Killdeers walking around on the parking lot in front of Target. Strange place for them - perhaps they were there to do some early Xmas shopping :-).


Killdeer


Killdeer

My last stop was was at the Rockfish Gap Hawkwatch. As I was driving up the road to the Afton Inn, I saw a Golden Eagle overhead, but didn't get a chance to take any photos of it.

Rockfish Valley Trail - November 14, 2012

I arrived at the trail at 9:45 this morning. It was cold and breezy. There weren't very birds out and about. Perhaps it was the wind chill, or perhaps it was the distant American Kestrel and the Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks in the bog area. I left 50 minutes later having logged 21 species. Palm Warblers are still on the trail - rare for this late in the year.


American Kestrel


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Palm Warbler

Wintergreen Mountain - November 14, 2012

I had to run an errand up on the mountain, so I did some birding up there. All I saw were a few Common Ravens, American Crows, Turkey Vultures, and Dark-eyed Juncos.


Common Raven

After leaving Wintergreen, I headed down the Blue Ridge Parkway toward the hawk watch. As I was driving, I thought that it would be great to see a Northern Goshawk, and I passed a large dead tree at mile marker 4. A large gray-backed hawk was perched on the top of it. I stopped the car about 100 feet ahead, but as I got out of the car I saw the hawk fly away. It looked to be too bulky for a Cooper's, and too large for a Sharp-shinned. I saw a bit if white on it from the quick side view I had, but did not get a good enough look at it to identify it.



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