Shenandoah Valley, VA 5/16/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs went west this morning into the Shenandoah Valley. Our first stop was at the James Madison University Arboretum. A Gray-cheeked Thrush had been reported as late as yesterday afternoon, and that would be a new life bird for me. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived there at 10:00, the Arboretum was filled with people, and many of the birds were in hiding. There were joggers, walkers, bicyclists, families with small children, and about 50 first or second graders who were scattered throughout the Arboretum in some sort of highly vocal nature scavenger hunt. We didn't stay there very long, and the only thrushes that we saw were American Robins and a secretive Swainson's Thrush.


Mallards


Mallard Ducklings


"Did you see that cute campus chick that just walked by?"


Swainson's Thrush


Field Sparrow taking a bath

I suggested that we try Hone Quarry to look for warblers. We were there twice last year without success, but it was later in the summer. On the way there we stopped at Silver Lake where a lone Common Loon was swimming. Hone Quarry was again a disappointment for us - we saw only a few birds there, and the only warbler was a first summer male American Redstart.


Common Loon


First summer male American Redstart


First summer male American Redstart

Walt suggested that we try Reddish Knob. At 4000 foot elevation with a 360 degree view, the peak was always a treat even if there weren't many birds to see. Near the summit we saw male and female Black-throated Blue Warblers in the dense brush.


Female Black-throated Blue Warbler


Female Black-throated Blue Warbler


Male Black-throated Blue Warbler

As we were leaving the summit, Walt stopped the car. There were a few Wake Robins (a Trillium species) in bloom.


Wake Robin flower

On the trip down from Reddish Knob, we stopped at several locations where we heard birds, and had close encounters with Cerulean and Black & White Warblers, a Red-eyed Vireo, and an Eastern Wood-Pewee. By the time we got home, we had logged 48 avian species for the day.


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


Black & White Warbler


Black & White Warbler


Black & White Warbler


Red-eyed Vireo


Red-eyed Vireo


Eastern Wood-Pewee



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