Switzer's Dam, Rockingham County, VA 10/4/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

With temperatures forecasted for the upper 80s, and southerly winds shifting to northwesterly, Walt Childs and I headed for higher elevations in the Allegheny Mountains. The wind change was also forecasted to bring in some clouds and possible light showers. The only thing we didn't decide is where we wanted to go! When we reached Dayton, Virginia, we could have turned south for Reddish Knob, or north for Switzer's Dam. We had been to Switzer's Dam only once before, and it wasn't very successful for birding, but we thought we would give it another try.

By the time we got there, we had already seen five common rural birds, and the skies were starting to get dark. Just a short distance down from the entrance, I heard Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches in the woods, so we stopped the car and got out to look. There were lots of small birds flying in the trees, and it was difficult to track them in the poor light and dense tree leaves, but we were able to see a few of them, including a pretty Blue-headed Vireo and a Blackpoll Warbler. We were to see both of these species again later on this trip.


Blue-headed Vireo


Blackpoll Warbler; note the diagnostic yellow feet and short tail


Blackpoll Warbler; note the diagnostic yellow feet and short tail


Blackpoll Warbler; note the diagnostic yellow feet and short tail


Blackpoll Warbler; note the diagnostic yellow feet and short tail

Many of the small birds were heading uphill and flying across the road, so we walked up about 50 feet and were treated to a great display. There was a small drainage ditch with dripping water, and the vireo, four warbler species, and a Chipping Sparrow were taking turns getting a drink. We stayed there quite a while until the birds moved on, not caring about our being just across the road.


Black-throated Green and Cape May Warblers


Black-throated Green and Cape May Warblers


Black-throated Green Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo


Black-throated Blue and Cape May Warblers


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler


Black-throated Blue Warbler


Black-throated Blue Warbler


Black-throated Blue Warbler

We heard more nuthatches down the road, stopped again, and this time we had Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Pine Warblers, Tufted Titmice, and five woodpecker species: Downy, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied, Pileated, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.


Pine Warbler


Pine Warbler


Red-Breasted Nuthatch


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

We ended up with 21 species at Switzer's Dam. Other birds there included Belted Kingfisher, Carolina Wren, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Cardinal, and American Crow.

We stopped off at Silver Lake in Dayton, and saw Mallards, a pair of Pied-billed Grebes, and four Mute Swans: two adults and two juveniles. Hard to tell if the swans were domestic or migrating. We also made quick stops at Riven River Park in Rockingham County, and along Bell's Lane in Augusta County, and ended the trip with 41 avian species.


Pied-billed Grebes


Mute Swan


Mute Swan


Mute Swan


Mute Swan



E-mail comments on this report


Return to blog page home