Central Virginia 10/2-3/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Today (10/2) started out as a photography day for me. I wanted to try some new settings on my camera to see if these settings would help with focussing on birds in a difficult environment such as in dense leaf cover and branches. I decided to go to Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro, as there had been lots of birds there recently, and most of them were tough photo shots because of the dense woods. On the way there, I drove right past the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch on Afton Mountain, but did not go up the driveway to the top, as photographing raptors was not my objective for the morning.

Ridgeview Park

When I got to the park, there were several maintenance workers mowing the soccer fields next to the woods. They were loud, and it might make hearing birds more difficult, but I didn't mind too much.

What I did mind was the two maintenance workers driving mowing tractors on the dirt trails in the woods. Yes, there was about six inches of vegetation on both edges of the trails, but that hadn't been a problem as the trails were fairly wide. All it did was scare the birds and leave large clouds of dust that hung in the air with little wind to disperse the dust. I did see a few birds, and spent an hour there trying out the new camera settings.


Magnolia Warbler


American Redstart


Downy Woodpecker


Gray Catbird


White-breasted Nuthatch

Lickinghole Creek

Not satisfied with the number of birds I had photographed at Ridgeview Park, I decided to go to Lickinghole Creek in Crozet and walk the trail there. I took I-64 east to exit 107, bypassing exit 99 and the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch for the second time this morning. It was getting hot and muggy by the time I got to Lickinghole Creek, and there were only a few birds to see. I caught a glimpse of another Magnolia Warbler, and got off a few photos of a Common Yellowthroat deep in some leaves and branches.


Common Yellowthroat


Cooper's Hawk


Cooper's Hawk and Chimney Swift


Downy Woodpecker


American Goldfinch

I got back home a little after 1 p.m., had some lunch, and then started looking at the photos from the morning. About 2:30, I called Walt Childs to tell him about Ridgeview Park, and he asked if I had read the posting from the hawk watch that morning. There were a dozen species of warblers in and around one tree up there, plus a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow in the same tree. This sparrow is rare in this part of Virginia, a potential life bird for me, and one of my top-priority bird species to see and photograph. DRATS! I had just driven past there twice! I had some afternoon obligations to do, and wasn't able to get to the hawk watch until a little before 4 p.m.

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch

When I arrived, I was told that the Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow had been around the base of that tree all morning, but had not been seen since 1 p.m. Several birders had gotten some great looks and photos of this bird. I made the short walk over to that tree, and it was still filled with warblers. I only saw five warbler species there, but one of them, a Prairie Warbler, hadn't been seen there earlier in the day. I did see a Lincoln's Sparrow there, but no Nelson's :-(.


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Magnolia Warbler


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler


Palm Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Prairie Warbler


Prairie Warbler


Prairie Warbler


Prairie Warbler


Lincoln's Sparrow


Indigo Bunting

Rockfish Valley Trail (10/3)

I awoke to rain and dense fog. It wasn't supposed to rain until later in the day. But the rain turned into light drizzle, and I headed over to the Rockfish Valley Trail a little after 9:00 a.m. The rain had stopped for the most part, but everthing was wet, and small drops of water hung from spider webs like jewels on a necklace. Perhaps the migrating warblers and sparrows spent the night on the trail??


Spider web

No such luck. I saw three Common Yellowthroats, almost certainly summer residents on the trail, and one Magnolia Warbler. A Swamp Sparrow was a new visitor there for this fall.


Common Yellowthroat


Common Yellowthroat


Swamp Sparrow


Black and Yellow Argiope Spider



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