Shenandoah Valley 2/10/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs and I birded along I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley today under cold winds and cloudy to mostly cloudy skies. We had four target bird species - a pair of Red-necked Grebes reported at Lake Shenandoah, a Clay-colored Sparrow reported near Staunton, and a White-winged Scoter and a Long-tailed Duck reported at Willow Lake. I had photographed a Long-tailed Duck there last December, but it did not have a long tail (either a female or an immature male).

Our first stop was at the Days Inn on the north side of Staunton. There was a mixed flock of Field Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, a Northern Cardinal, and a Red-tailed Hawk. We did manage to get a short look at the Clay-colored Sparrow that had joined the flock.


Clay-colored Sparrow

Our second planned stop was Lake Shenandoah. We made a slight detour on the way there to look for the Snowy Owl near Mt. Crawford, but did not stay long nor did we find it. When we arrived at Lake Shenandoah we saw Mallards, an American Coot, and a flock of Ring-billed Ducks. We saw the Red-necked Grebes (my life bird # 524) far in the distance, but the pair swam toward the point where we got some closer views.


Red-necked Grebes


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe


Red-necked Grebe

We then made a short stop at nearby Lake Campbell. It was filled with ducks, geese, swans, and a Great Blue Heron. I have been wanting to get better photos of Canvasbacks, and did improve my photo library a bit while I was there.


Ducks and a Coot


Redhead (right) and Canvasback (left)


Canvasbacks


Canvasback


Canvasbacks


Canvasbacks


Canada Geese

The photo highlights of the day were at Willow Lake. Again, there were a lot of duck species, geese, and a Tundra Swan. The White-winged Scoter made a close approach - it looked like an immature male.


White-winged Scoter


White-winged Scoter


White-winged Scoter


White-winged Scoter

The Long-tailed Duck stole the show as it made multiple dives only a few feet from the shore where we were standing. It clearly had a long tail. We ended the day with 35 to 40 species, with about half of them being waterfowl. And we topped the wildlife list off with a Muskrat at Willow Lake.


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Long-tailed Duck


Muskrat



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