Nazarene Wetlands, Rockingham County, VA 10/22/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

There had been reports of two Stilt Sandpipers in the Nazarene Wetlands in Rockingham County, Virginia. Although sandpipers, expecially in non-breeding plumage, are not one of my favorite subjects for wildlife photography, Walt Childs and I made the hour+ drive to Nazarene Wetlands to see if the Stilt Sandpipers were still there, to see what other wetlands birds might be there, and to expore this site as neither one of us had ever been there before.

The forecast was for increasing clouds during the day, and rain after midnight. When we left my house in the Rockfish Valley, the sun was shining with only a few slight breezes. As we drove up Afton Mountain to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains, the wind became very strong, and as we reached the summit, we could see that the entire Shenandoah Valley was under dense cloud cover. As we travelled north, it appeared that there were brighter skies to the west of the Shenandoah Valley, but when we were within 1/4 mile of the Nazarene Wetlands, it started to drizzle. But the drizzle soon stopped, and we searched the wetlands from Lambert Town Road (route 755). About 20 minutes later, I walked around the corner to view the wetlands from Nazarene Church Road (route 750), and after a few minutes, sunlight broke through the clouds and illuminated the wetlands. The sunshine didn't last very long, but long enough for me to get some better photos than I was able to get from the Lambert Town Road side.


Nazarene Wetlands

The two Stilt Sandpipers (a life bird for me) were still there, along with three Lesser Yellowlegs, four Wilson's Snipes, a flock of Killdeers, a Canada Goose, Mallards, Wood Ducks, and in the nearby trees an Eastern Phoebe, a sparrow, a kinglet, and some Starlings.

Two of the Lesser Yellowlegs were spotted and one was more patterned (juvenile?), and the patterned and one of the spotted Lesser Yellowlegs seemed to be a bit smaller than the third one. If fact, the two smaller ones did not look that much larger than the Stilt Sandpipers, but I don't think that they could be any species other than Lesser Yellowlegs, and the largest of the three was not big enough to have been a Greater Yellowlegs. At one point the two smaller ones were hanging out with the two Stilt Sandpipers, while the largest one was on his own in a different part of the wetlands.


Lesser Yellowlegs


Stilt Sandpipers (first and third from left) and Lesser Yellowlegs


Stilt Sandpipers (second and third from left) and Lesser Yellowlegs


Stilt Sandpipers (first and third from left) and Lesser Yellowlegs


Stilt Sandpipers (first and third from left) and Lesser Yellowlegs


Stilt Sandpiper


Stilt Sandpipers (first and second from left) and Lesser Yellowlegs


Stilt Sandpiper


Stilt Sandpipers


Stilt Sandpipers


Lesser Yellowlegs


Lesser Yellowlegs


Lesser Yellowlegs


Lesser Yellowlegs


Lesser Yellowlegs

My favorite birds there were the four Wilson's Snipes.


Wilson's Snipes


Wilson's Snipes


Wilson's Snipes


Wilson's Snipe


Wilson's Snipe


Wilson's Snipes

Some of the Killdeers were juveniles, and their plumage between the two black breast bands was still brown.


Juvenile Killdeer

After spending about an hour at the Nazarene Wetlands, Walt and I had to decide where to go for our next stop. The choice was between some of the lakes and ponds in and near the Harrisonburg area to our east, or west up to Reddish Knob on the Virginia/West Virginia border. We decided on Reddish Knob as we were almost there, and the Harrisonburg area lakes and ponds were closer to where we live and could wait for another trip.

When we got to the large Briery Branch reservoir, there was a lone Pied-billed Grebe swimming in the middle of it. We didn't see very much on the way up to Reddish Knob: only one Hairy Woodpecker and a few Dark-eyed Juncos, but the scenery was great!


View from the road up to Reddish Knob


Pied-billed Grebe


Hairy Woodpecker


Dark-eyed Junco



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