Rockfish Valley Trail 9/23/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

It was another beautiful morning to be out looking for birds. But where are the birds? This fall's migration has been very slow, especially compared with all the birds we saw last year.

I arrived at Glenthorne Loop at 8:30 this morning, and a lot of the trail was still in early morning shadow. It wasn't until 9:00 before avian activity started to get busy. I logged 21 species during the first hour, and another 4 species in the next 15 minutes before I left the trail. I didn't see any hawks or vultures, and most of the 25 species I did see were common trail birds.

Indigo Bunting

I did log four warblers: Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Common Yellowthroat (heard one singing), and a warbler with a deep olive-green back and no wing bars that quickly flew into dense brush just above the ground. I didn't get a good look at it - my first impression was Mourning Warbler, but a Nashville Warbler was more likely what it was.

Magnolia Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

There are still a good number of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on the trail. One of them flew right up to the top of my head about a foot away from me before turning around. One of the hummingbirds had unusual rufous flanks and a yellowish back. I think that it was a Ruby-throated, but this bird might be the same one that was identified as a Rufous/Allen's by other birders a couple of days ago. Please e-mail me if you have any opinions on this one.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated(?) Hummingbird

Ruby-throated(?) Hummingbird

Ruby-throated(?) Hummingbird

Ruby-throated(?) Hummingbird

I left the trail and headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was weird up there - except for the leaves on the trees, it seemed like early winter. All I saw were a few Eastern Towhees, American Goldfinches, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Eastern Towhee

Dark-eyed Junco

I stopped off at the Humpback Rocks picnic area where I saw a couple of crows chasing a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. I was only able to get off a couple of shots from my car window, and only got the tail end of the hawk.

Cooper's Hawk

My last stop was at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, and there wasn't much going on there. A Northern Mockingbird posed for a photo.

Northern Mockingbird

You know that it was a slow birding day for me when I post photos of a hawk's tail :-(

[UPDATE] I went back to the Rockfish Valley Trail this afternoon from 3:00 to 4:30, and explored the downstream trail and the west side of Reids Creek on the Glenthorne Loop. I added 11 avian species that I had not seen on the trail this morning, bringing the day's trail list to 36 species, including a Green Heron, the 71st avian RV Trail species for September 2013.   Click here to see the current September 2013 trail list. The only warbler I saw this afternoon was a Magnolia.

Magnolia Warbler

Green Heron

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Brown Thrasher


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