Rockfish Valley Trail 11/19/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I took an early afternoon hike on the trail. Although I only logged 20 species in a little under two hours, it was an interesting hike. As soon as I started on the downstream trail, I witnessed the beginning of some hawk wars! A Red-tailed Hawk, an adult Red-shouldered Hawk (called "Mama" in the rest of this narrative), and a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Junior) were going at it above me, and a Common Raven and some American Crows had joined in the fun.


Red-tailed Hawk

Junior soon had enough of the harrassment, fled to a tree in the bog area, squawked his displeasure, and took off, while Mama chased the Red-tailed Hawk away.


Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

With the Red-tailed Hawk gone, Mama went looking for junior, calling for him as she flew.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk

But Junior was nowhere to be found, and was not answering her call. Mama flew from tree top to tree top all over the downstream and Glenthorne Loop trails, calling for Junior in flight and each time she landed.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk

Each time Mama landed, she would call in one direction and then listen, and then turn and call in another direction and then listen.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk

This went on for almost an hour. Junior did not respond. As I hiked back toward my car, I saw a hawk land atop a tree at the end of the downstream trail. My first thought was that Junior had returned. Mama circled and headed for the tree. I thought she was just going there to bawl him out for wandering off and not telling her where he was going. I couldn't tell from that distance that the hawk that had just landed was the Red-tailed.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawk

I wish I had been following Mama with my camera. As Mama approached the perched hawk, she extended her talons and attacked the Red-tailed. It quickly took off and flew away, keeping an eye on Mama Red-shouldered above.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk

I then headed upstream as Mama sat perched on a tree limb near the downstream picnic table waiting for Junior to return. With all of this activity, most of the little birds stayed hunkered down. The highlight of the hike for me was getting some close-up photos of a juvenile Downy Woodpecker that wasn't quite sure what I was.


Juvenile Downy Woodpecker


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


Pileated Woodpecker


Carolina Wren


Carolina Wren


Great Blue Heron

Today's RV Trail list (20 species):

Song Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Bluebird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Carolina Wren
Great Blue Heron
Pileated Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
American Crow
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Common Raven


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