Blue Ridge Parkway; Waynesboro, VA 5/1/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs and I took advantage of the great spring weather and began a three-day birding adventure (day trips) with a trip up to the first eight miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Road construction on the parkway between mile markers 11 and 14 meant that one of my favorite warbler spots, Hickory Springs overlook at mm. 12 was closed, but my other favorite warbler spot at the cirque between mm. 7 and 8 might still be "birdy." As soon as we arrived there, we heard American Redstarts and a Worm-eating Warbler. The WE Warbler was foraging on the ground just a few feet from where we parked, and didn't seem to mind at all that we were close to it and taking photos.


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler


Worm-eating Warbler

Then I hiked a hundred yards or so to the south to take a look over there when I heard Walt whistle. I looked back and he was pointing directly away from him into the trees. As I hiked back expecting to see another warbler, I soon saw that Walt was pointing at something else high up in one of the trees.


Black Bear

It was a young black bear, probably one of the bears that was seen last year as a cub in that location. It was eating some of the tender shoots off of the tree. We were to learn from a park ranger two days later that they suspected that there was a bear den lower down the slope near that location. After a minute or so, the bear saw me, and as if to say "oh, oh! I've been caught," it looked very cautiously how to get down from that high location, and started its descent.


Black Bear


Black Bear


Black Bear

Our next stop was at the Humpback Rocks park, but it was closed off, so we parked at the entrance and birded there for a few minutes. A flock of birds came through that included Red-eyed, Blue-headed, and Yellow-throated Vireos; and our first of the year Scarlet Tanager. A Black and White Warbler was in that mixed flock as well. A pair of Dark-eyed Juncos were "playing games."


Scarlet Tanager


Red-eyed Vireo


Blue-headed Vireo


Black and White Warbler


Black and White Warbler


Black and White Warbler


Dark-eyed Juncos

We headed back toward the start of the parkway, stopping a few times. We saw more American Redstarts and an interesting slug crossing the parkway.


American Redstart


Slug

We left the parkway at route 610, and headed down the west side of the Blue Ridge toward Waynesboro. We only saw a few birds, including more vireos and Redstarts.


Blue-headed Vireo

Before heading home, we stopped at the pond behind Kohl's on route 340 at I-64. We were surprised to see five new avian species there, bringing our day's count to 40. There were Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, a Green Heron, and a NRW Swallow. When one of the Solitary Sandpipers flew across the pond, I noticed an unusual bird - it was a Dunlin! Not a rare bird, but certainly an unusual sight for this far inland. The strong easterly winds must have blown these sandpipers in from the east coast.


Spotted Sandpiper


Spotted Sandpiper


Solitary Sandpiper


Solitary Sandpiper


Green Heron


Solitary Sandpiper and Dunlin


Dunlin


Dunlin


Dunlin


Dunlin



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