Rockfish Valley Trail 9/28/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

It was mostly overcast this morning, with only occasional breaks in the cloud cover. Between 9:00 and 11:00, Walt Childs and I logged 31 species on Glenthorne Loop and part of the downstream trail, including 2 warbler species: Palm and Magnolia. As we were leaving, we saw Greg Moyers (Harrisonburg, VA) who had seen nine other species, including three additional warbler species: Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided, and Common Yellowthroat.

As soon as we parked along Glenthorne Loop, we saw a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on a bale of hay. It soon took flight after seeing us. On the west side of Reids Creek, we had a bit of excitement. A Fish Crow was chasing a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and then the Sharpie turned the tables and started to chase the crow. There may have been two Sharpies there, and the balance of power shifted. The Fish Crow was a new September 2013 trail bird, bringing this September's cumulative trail list to 75 species.   Click here to see the current September 2013 trail list. The Fish Crow landed in a tree top and continued to call, and an American Crow came flying in to see what the commotion was all about. It was very easy to distinguish between the calls of the two crow species.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Sharp-shinned Hawk


Sharp-shinned Hawk


Sharp-shinned Hawk and Fish Crow


Fish Crow


Pileated Woodpecker

Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks breed on the trail every summer. The adult males and most of the adult females seem to have migrated south, but there are lots of juveniles, especially Indigo Buntings, on the trail. These juveniles have the mostly brown coloring of adult females, but the juvenile males are starting to get some of their blue plumage.


Blue Grosbeak


Blue Grosbeak


Blue Grosbeak


Indigo Bunting

In less than a one minute duration, I saw three species land right in front of me, one after the other, on the same branch in the bog area: a Gray Catbird, then a Northern Cardinal, and then a Carolina Wren.


Northern Cardinal


Carolina Wren

Most of the warblers we saw were high up in the tree canopies.


Magnolia Warbler


Palm Warblers

We haven't seen very many sparrows on the trail during the past month, perhaps because the vegetation is so tall and dense. We did see Song and Field Sparrows this morning.


Song Sparrow



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