Rockfish Valley Trail 8/18/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I wasn't going to go birding this morning. There were dark clouds and rain in the forecast, but by 10:00 the complete cloud cover brightened a bit, and I decided to head over to the trail. As I left my house, I called Walt Childs and asked him if he wanted to meet me there at the main kiosk, and we started downstream about 10:20.

There weren't many birds to see, and I thought it was going to be a repeat of last Saturday's poor birding on the trail. By the time we got to the first wooden bridge on Glenthorne Loop, we only had 12 species, and there were few birds singing ahead of us. Most of the birds we were seeing were Indigo Buntings and a few other common species.


Juvenile Indigo Bunting


Juvenile Indigo Bunting


Eastern Wood-Pewee


Eastern Wood-Pewee

We decided to take the trail between Yellow Bird Thicket and Reids Creek, just to the north of the bog area. We stopped between the thicket and creek when we heard avian activity. There was a Brown Thrasher in the thicket, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird along the creek. Then we saw a pair of Red-eyed Vireos in the trees.


Red-eyed Vireos


Red-eyed Vireos

Then there was a flash of yellow - it was a possibly a fall plumage Magnolia Warbler, or more likely, a first fall female Canada Warbler.


Magnolia/Canada Warbler

But the excitement was only beginning. We stayed there for a couple of minutes when an immature/first winter Yellow-bellied Flycatcher popped up in front of us. This rare transient species is usually seen on the trail every year, but its appearance there this morning was at least a week earlier than expected.


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

We hiked the trail through the bog area, and decided to go all the way down to the second wooden bridge. The sky was getting considerbly darker, but I heard birds singing in front of us, and we continued along Reids Creek. We approached the end of the fenced field where the vine covered trees along the creek often produce some good birds. There was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings, some Bluebirds, an Eastern Kingbird, and a Flicker.


Northern Flicker

Atop a large dead tree there, I saw another flycatcher. It was another rare migrating bird - an Olive-sided Flycatcher, and also earlier than expected. This is the seventh OSFC seen on the trail, the others in May 2008 and 2011; August 2008, 2010, and 2013; and September 2012.


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher


Olive-sided Flycatcher

We were now about 1-1/2 miles from the parking lot, and the clouds were getting even darker. We had now seen 24 avian species on this hike, and wondered what else might be on the trail. We continued on, and in another minute, it started to rain. It was a wet hike back to our cars, but it had been a great birding hike!



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