Central Virginia 8/7/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Rockfish Valley Trail

I starting birding today with a short, mid-morning hike on the Rockfish Valley Trail. I spent about an hour on the Glenthorne Loop section. It wasn't very "birdy," but I did log 16 avian species. Highlights were White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, and a pair of Great Blue Herons. There were almost as many butterflies there as birds.


Eastern Wood-Pewee


Great Blue Heron


Great Blue Heron


Red-tailed Hawk


American Crows


Tiger Swallowtail


Pipevine Swallowtail

Reddish Knob

I picked up Walt Childs at noon, and we headed to Reddish Knob in the Allegheny Mountains. Just after leaving his house, I saw a Box Turtle on the road, so I stopped to take a photo and then placed it on the ground and off the road.


Box Turtle

Our target bird was the Red Crossbill. These birds have crossed upper and lower mandibles that help them pry open pine cones to get to the nuts. They also ingest small gravel bits to help with digestion. There is a four road intersection on Briery Branch Road about 0.7 miles from the Reddish Knob summit where these bird like to get gravel. Although Walt and I have been there multiple times, we had not previously seen Red Crossbill there, although there are often reports of them at that location. There have been a few reports the past few days, so we decided to give it a try. I had only seen Red Crossbills twice before, once near the Confederate Breastworks on the Augusta/Highland County, Virginia line, and in Canada, but have never gotten good photos of this species.

Our timing was almost great - just as we arrived at the four road intersection on Briery Branch Road, there was a flock of Red Crossbills on the gravel road. But we couldn't see the birds from the car until we almost drove into them, and the entire flock flew up into the nearby trees. We saw 8 to 12 Crossbills in the flock, at least 4 males (red colored) and the same number or more females (yellowish brown).

I took a fair number of photos, but most of the birds stayed hidden in the foliage until the flock flew away. I did get a few photos of this species, but will try again another time for better photos.


Three Red Crossbills


Male and female Red Crossbills


Male Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill


Female Red Crossbill

We saw 15 to 20 avian species on the road up to the summit, but only one warbler species - an Ovenbird. The dense vegetation combined with bright sunlight made photography a challenge.


Blue-headed Vireo


Black-capped Chickadee


Cedar Waxwing

Nazarenne Wetlands

The small wetlands off of Nazarenne Church Road was on our way home, so we stopped there for a quick look. We saw a fair number of species there, but without a spotting scope, some of the small and distant shore birds were difficult to identify.


House Sparrow


Great Egret


Wood Duck


Wood Duck


Wood Duck


Solitary Sandpiper


Solitary Sandpiper


Killdeers


Pectoral(?) Sandpiper


Pectoral(?) Sandpiper


Peeps



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