Central Virginia 4/22/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I hiked multiple locations today, but my itinerary was quite different from what I had originally planned. Emergency repairs to Interstate 64 caused a variety of detours, road closures, and traffic delays, so I opted to head in directions that avoided most of the travel issues. The weather was sunny, but still cold and windy.

I started out at the Rockfish Valley Trail where birding was sparse, but I still managed to log 25 species in 90 minutes. All but a Red-tailed Hawk were the same species I have seen there during the past few days.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


Eastern Bluebird


White-throated Sparrow


Field Sparrow


Palm Warbler

My next leg was up route 664 to Reids Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 14. The first 14 miles of the parkway are usually great for warblers from late April through mid-October, but was a bust last year after the first week of May because of road work on the parkway. No sooner than I had turned north when I saw a road work sign, and crews were completely re-doing the road from about mm. 13 to Ravens Roost Overlook near mm. 11. That meant that one of my two favorite warbler spots, Hickory Springs Overlook at mm. 12 will be out of commission this entire spring, and after seeing unfilled potholes north of the road work, I assume that the road construction will be there all summer as the crews move toward the north end of the parkway. Even the Humpback Rocks visitor center had workmen there who said that the facilities would be closed for at least three more weeks.

I didn't hear or see many birds anywhere along those 14 miles. I did stop at one spot were two Dark-eyed Juncos were next to the road and gathering nesting materials. They didn't seemed at all phased that I was only a few feet away from them taking photos. The Juncos migrate north from the lower valley locations, but spend all year at the higher elevations here.


Dark-eyed Junco


Dark-eyed Junco

Next stop was the Augusta Springs Wetlands. Once again, avian activity was sparse, and I hiked twice around the 2/3-mile boardwalk to log 17 species. The highlight for me was seeing a small flock of Swamp Sparrows and comparing the great variation in plumage found on this species.


Immature White-throated Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Swamp Sparrow


Ruby-crowned Kinglet

I returned via Swoope, Virginia, but only saw nine common species there. An Eastern Kingbird let me take some photos from inside my car only a few feet away from it.


Eastern Meadowlark


Eastern Kingbird

My last stop was at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro, Virginia, where I saw only a few common species. However, I heard some rather strange bird calls, and looked over to see a small flock of perhaps five or six Red-bellied Woodpeckers chatting away with each other. Some of them appeared to be young birds, and perhaps it was a class on finding bugs?


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

There were some Canada Geese and several Mallards in the stream that runs through the park. One of them looked like it might be an American Black Duck, but the white feathers on it probably means that it is a hybird Mallard.


Mallards



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