Swoope, Virginia 5/25/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs and I had planned to go birding along Lickinghole Creek in Crozet, but at the last minute, changed our plans and went to the Swoope area just to the southwest of Staunton. And I am glad that we did!

It was fairly cool and comfortable under bright, sunny skies. There were lots of Eastern Meadowlarks, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Robins, Brown Thrashers, and many of the common summer birds there.


Eastern Meadowlark


American Robin


Brown Thrasher

We stopped along Hewitt Road to get a long and close-up view of a singing Grasshopper Sparrow.


Grasshopper Sparrow


Grasshopper Sparrow


Grasshopper Sparrow


Grasshopper Sparrow

Our next stop was at Smith Lake. As soon as we parked, I saw a Bald Eagle about 1/3 the day down the south side of the lake. It had its wings spread like a Vulture that was drying its wings, and it was continuously calling - probably for its mate or one of its young, as there is a nest near there.


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle continued to call in various directions as I approached it, and didn't seem to mind my being fairly close.


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle

I held my distance and continued to watch it. After a few minutes, it took off across the lake, and flew to a distant tree, presumably where it nested.


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle

There was a lone Spotted Sandpiper on a mud flat, and a Belted Kingfisher flew across the lake.


Spotted Sandpiper

Then I heard an unfamiliar song. It sounded like an Alder Flycatcher - uncommon for this location, but a few have been seen during the past week a bit farther to the west and north of Swoope. And then I spotted it. I took a few photos, and then it flew to a fence about 50 feet away. I wanted to make sure that I was hearing the song correctly, so I played my Sibley app for an Alder, and it immediately flew back to a small tree where I was standing and started to sing again.


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher

There were a couple of Yellow Warblers in the trees at the southeast corner of the lake. They were there on May 16th, so they are probably nesting there.


Yellow Warbler

Walt and I head up Cattlemans Road to look for Bobolinks and Dickcissels. We stopped at the Middle River where there were lots of birds. We saw a Chipping Sparrow that was singing its heart out - this Chipper had more rufous on its cheeks than I have ever seen before on this species.


Chipping Sparrow


Chipping Sparrow


Common Grackle and male Orchard Oriole


House Wren


Molting(?) Song Sparrow

We saw a flycatcher that we could not identify. It appeared to have a black, and not bi-colored bill, but its bill looked to be too long and pointed for an Eastern Phoebe.


Unidentified Flycatcher


Unidentified Flycatcher

There was a very pale white-tailed deer in the river, and a mamma Wood Duck was giving swimming lessons to her chicks.


White-tailed deer


Wood Ducks

We saw a pair of Willow Flycatchers. We experimented by playing the recorded song of an Alder Flycatcher, and neither bird even turned its head. But when we played the recorded song of a Willow Flycatcher, both birds flew toward us and starting singing. Note the differences in appearance with the Alder Flycatcher.


Willow Flycatcher


Willow Flycatcher


Willow Flycatcher


Willow Flycatcher

We continued along Cattlemans Road. I got out and walked down the road when I heard a Dickcissel calling. Walt stayed at the car, and a Northern Bobwhite crossed the road right where he was standing, and a few minutes later crossed back over the road. We both saw a few Bobolinks in the fields and on fence posts.


Bobolink


Bobolink

And then I located a male Dickcissel.


Dickcissel


Dickcissel

We continued birding for a while in the Swoope area, and ended the trip with 47 avian species.


Immature Orchard Oriole


Male Orchard Oriole sporting a Mohawk haircut :-)


Female Blue Grosbeak

Trip list:

Green Heron
Wood Duck
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Bald Eagle
American Kestrel
Spotted Sandpiper
Northern Bobwhite
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Belted Kingfisher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Field Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark
Bobolink
Dickcissel
Indigo Bunting
Blue Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Orchard Oriole
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow



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