Wintergreen Area 10/14/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Rockfish Valley Trail

I started off this morning by meeting Walt Childs at the Rockfish Valley Trail at 9:00, where we birded for 1-1/2 hours. The fog and rain was supposed to have cleared this morning, but it was still heavily overcast, and the drizzle continued until I arrived at the trail. We wanted to see if the Connecticut Warbler might still be there, but no warblers were seen at all. I did end up with 28 species there.


House Wren


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Belted Kingfisher


Field Sparrow

The highlight of the morning was seeing a Merlin, probably the same one that we saw yesterday, flying across the field with breakfast in its talons. It landed near the top of a large tree along the downstream trail and started to consume its meal.


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin

I headed over to near that tree to get better photos, and got a few before the Merlin tired of my presence, and decided to take its prey elsewhere.


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin


Merlin

Afton, Virginia

I had read a report of a Rufous Hummingbird coming to a feeder a few miles up the road here in the Rockfish Valley (part of my Wintergreen area). Although I had previously seen and photographed this species south of Richmond, Virginia and in Seattle, Washington, I had never seen one here. As the feeder was on private property, I obtained permission to enter that property prior to going there. But I also wanted to get photos of this colorful species in good sunlight. It was drizzling again as I returned home from the Rockfish Valley Trail, but it started to clear a couple of hours later, so I decided to look for the hummingbird.

As I approached Afton, the fog and overcast skies were heavy again, but I was almost there, so I continued on. I watched for the Rufous Hummingbird for about 1-1/2 hours, and met with success (my #178 Wintergreen area bird species), as well as seeing a small variety of other avian species.

The first time I saw the hummingbird was when it flew overhead checking out who I was. About ten minutes later it landed at the top of a nearby tree, and I was able to get a few poor quality photos of it against the gray sky.


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird

About 15 minutes later, there was a break in the cloud cover, and I hoped that the hummingbird would come to the feeder, but I was also checking nearby trees for it. It did fly to the feeder for a few moments while I was looking in one of the trees for it, but flew away as soon as I caught a glimpse of it and turned toward it. Although I was at least 20 feet away, the hummingbird was still being cautious. About 10 minutes later, it came back to the feeder, and this time I was able to get some good photos of it.


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird

A short time after that, the clouds once again covered the sun, but I wanted to try for a few more photos. The Rufous Hummingbird came back about 15 minutes later. Without full sunlight for all of its rufous throat feathers to be reflected, only those throat feathers that could catch some of the light were bright.


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird

Stoney Creek (Rockfish Valley section of Wintergreen)

Starting in the late afternoon, Alice and I attended a neighborhood party across the street from where we live. We had a great view of Sawmill Creek pond #2, and around 5:30 p.m., a Bald Eagle flew across the pond. A few minutes later, an Osprey flew across. At about 6:00 p.m. the same or another Bald Eagle perched high in a tree on the other side of the pond, and stayed there for about 30 minutes, even though a murder of crows was harassing it. I didn't have my camera with me, but the host got his binoculars, and all of the neighborhood guests took turns looking at the eagle.



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