Wintergreen Area 10/15-17/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Rockfish Valley Trail 10/15/13

I had an appointment in Charlottesville, and could not get out to the trail until 3:45 in the afternoon. Walt Childs had reported 38 species, including 6 warbler species, on the trail that morning, but by the time I got there, I only logged 17 species, with a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers as the only warbler species I saw.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Swamp Sparrow

Rockfish Valley Trail 10/16/13

Tuesday's sunny skies were replaced with complete overcast and fog when Walt Childs and I arrived at the trail at 9:00. Many of the warblers that Walt had seen yesterday must have moved on, but we did managed to see three warbler species: Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Magnolia, in addition to several Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. There were Eastern Towhees, Swamp, Lincoln's, Field, Chipping, and Song Sparrows. I also saw the brownest Eastern Bluebird that I can remember.


Eastern Bluebird


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler


Yellow-rumped Warbler


Magnolia Warbler


Golden-crowned Kinglet


Lincoln's Sparrow


Lincoln's Sparrow

We saw an unusual sight on the trail. As we approached Yellow Bird Thicket just to the north of the bog area, we saw a chipmunk about seven feet off the ground eating seeds, and perhaps some berries, from a bush. I have never seen a chipmunk so far above the ground.


Chipmunk


Chipmunk


Chipmunk


Chipmunk

On the way back to my car, we saw one of the largest caterpillars I have ever seen - it was three to four inches long.


Caterpillar

When we got to the car, we stopped when we saw a kettle of Black Vultures. There were two Red-tailed Hawks circling with the vultures.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk

Wintergreen Mountain 10/16/13

We could see that the skies were clearing to the west, so we decided to drive up to Raven's Roost Overlook on Wintergreen Mountain (Devils Knob, and not the Raven's Roost Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway) to look for migrating raptors on the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Northern Goshawks had been reported on the previous two days at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, and this would be a life bird for me. Raven's Roost Overlook used to be one of my favorite warbler viewing spots as the wooden plaform is at eye level with the tops of taller trees, and above the tree tops of smaller trees. However, there had been very few, if any, warblers at that location for the past couple of years. My hunch is that spraying for Gypsy Moths killed a lot of the tree insects. As soon as we parked the car, we saw several Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Juncos, Woodpeckers, and other small birds.


Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Within a few minutes of getting on the platform, two drab, first year Cape May Warblers were in the trees below us.


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler

A minute later, we saw a Blackpoll Warbler in the shadows below the overlook.


Blackpoll Warbler


Blackpoll Warbler


Blackpoll Warbler

And then, we got lucky. A beautiful Blackburnian Warbler popped to the top of one of the trees below us, and stayed there for a good 10 to 15 minutes. The Blackburnian may have been traveling with the Blackpoll, as it came from the same area where we saw the Blackpoll. Interestingly, the Blackburnian Warbler had yellow feet, just like the Blackpoll. Although I can't find any references to yellow feet on Blackburnians in any of my field guides, I checked some of my previous Blackburnian Warbler photos, and a few of them do show yellow feet on the birds. Any comments on whether yellow feet on Blackburnians is common, or if perhaps this might be a hybrid, would be appreciated. I took more than 200 photos of this one bird, and it was difficult to decide which ones to post here.


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler


Blackburnian Warbler

As we were getting ready to leave, we saw vultures and ravens, and then saw a hawk heading toward us. But it was another Red-tailed.


Red-tailed Hawk

We decided to try my two favorite warbler spots on the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway - Hickory Springs Overlook at mm.12, and the large cirque at about mm.7.5. As we got to the parkway, the clouds were moving in again, and we didn't see much at Hickory Springs, so we headed down to the cirque. There wasn't much there either, but as we were walking back to the car, a small flock of birds landed in the trees. There were more Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and a small number of Blackpoll Warblers. And then it started to rain, so we headed for home.


Golden-crowned Kinglet


Blackpoll Warbler


Blackpoll Warbler


Blackpoll Warbler


Blackpoll Warbler


Blackpoll Warbler

Rockfish Valley Trail 10/17/13

The forecast was for clouds and rain, but when I got to the trail at 9:05, it was sunny and "birdy." By 9:10, it was overcast, and started to rain as I left about 10:30. I met up with Evan Spears a few minutes after I arrived, and we checked for warblers, especially a Connecticut. I saw and photographed a drab olive-green and gray one there on October 8, and Evan saw an olive-brown and buff one there a couple of days ago in the same area. When we got to that spot just east of the picnic table on the downstream trail, Evan spotted a warbler that he thought was the Connecticut. I tried to get a few photos, but it was mostly behind branches and leaves from where I was standing, and I cannot confirm the species, but there appears to be a bold eye ring like that of a Connecticut. Also on the trail this morning were first-of-season White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows.


Song Sparrow


Warbler


Warbler


Warbler



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