Rockfish Valley Trail 9/12/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

When I arrived at the trail this morning at 9:15, it was already hot and muggy. I didn't think that I would see very many birds, as the hot, muggy, southerly winds have been stalling the arrival of migrating birds here. There's a strong cold front moving in from the north tonight, and I suspect that the migrating birds that are hanging around north of here will be on the move, and the next couple of weeks should bring lots of birds to the trail.

As soon as I parked my car on the Glenthorne Loop just off of route 627, I could see that there was a lot of avian activity. Small birds were flying in and out of the trees even before I got to the first wooden bridge, but they were also disappearing quickly in the dense tree cover, making identification difficult. I saw a Scarlet Tanager and a Carolina Chickadee. A small, warbler-like birds flew by quickly - it might have been a pale Common Yellowthroat, but its all buffy yellow plumage made me think Tennessee Warbler.


Scarlet Tanager

I only waited around for a couple of minutes to see if the warbler would re-appear, but it didn't, so I headed farther south on the east side of Reids Creek to see what might be there. Lots of birds - mostly Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches.


Juvenile Indigo Bunting

I then saw a large bird flying along the creek - a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Yellow-billed Cuckoo

There were lots of other species as well (I ended up with 25+ species for the morning). There were juvenile and adult White-eyed Vireos singing in several places along the trail. We have now seen 60 species on the trail this September.   Click here to see the current September 2013 trail list.


Brown Thrasher


Carolina Wren


Ruby-throated Hummingbird


Juvenile White-eyed Vireo


Juvenile White-eyed Vireo


Adult White-eyed Vireo

I saw two unusual birds high up in a tree along with an American Goldfinch and a Scarlet Tanager. They were slightly larger than the Goldfinch, and smaller than the Tanager. It should be easy to ID them, but I don't have a clue! They appear to have blue wings and lightly washed rufous breasts, but do not look like Eastern Bluebirds to me. They both had notched tails with white tips. They also don't match up with any Indigo Buntings I have seen. Any ideas?


Unknown birds 1


Unknown birds 1


Unknown birds 1


Unknown birds 1

I headed back to the first wooden bridge and crossed over to the west side of Reids Creek. This next bird was in Yellow Bird thicket between the first wooden bridge and the bog area. The bird in the first photo below made me think Warbling Vireo.


Unknown bird 2

In the next photo, I see a yellowish vent and an organish base to its bill. Tennessee Warbler? But for a TW, the vent should be white.


Unknown bird 2

This third photo show a small crown patch. The dark bill with an orangish base looks too small for a vireo. It seems to match the description for a first fall Orange-crowned Warbler, but they are rare here and this is a bit early for them. Perhaps it really isn't a crown patch. A Warbling Vireo is the most likely species. Any other ideas?


Unknown bird 2

I then saw an adult American Goldfinch feeding junior. Seems like I see this Goldfinch behavior every September on the trail.


American Goldfinches


American Goldfinches


American Goldfinches


"More!"

I ended my hike this morning around 10:45 when I saw a large flock of Turkey and Black Vultures, and two Red-tailed Hawks.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk



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