Shenandoah Valley, VA 1/13/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs and I headed west over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley this morning. Even though it was mostly sunny, brisk winds and temperatures near the freezing mark made it feel quite cold. Although we didn't see a lot of birds, we ended up with about 30 species and some interesting birds.

Our first stop was along Strickley Road near New Hope where we saw a flock of Horned Larks, but they were easily spooked and wouldn't settle down for us to get good looks if any other species were with them. We drove some back roads on our way to the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, and saw Blue Jays, Morning Doves, Starlings, a few sparrows, and three Great Blue Herons.


Great Blue Heron

All we saw at the airport were a pair of Horned Larks. Leonard's Pond and Lake Shenandoah were frozen, but we saw a good selection of birds at Lake Campbell, including the resident pair of Mute Swans, a pair of Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, Redheads, Gadwall and Canvasback Ducks, more Mallards, a female Northern Pintail, and an unusual looking Pied-billed Grebe that looked like a hybrid with a Horned Grebe, if such a hybrid even exists. The grebe had a rufous neck band and a well defined dark cap like that of a Horned Grebe, but the rest of the bird's coloring and bill was that of a Pied-billed. It was probably a variation of a Pied-billed, but all opinions are appreciated.


Ducks


Redheads


Female Northern Pintail


Tundra Swans


Pied-billed Grebe

We stopped at the Bridgewater park along the river, but all we saw there were Common and Lesser Canada Geese, some more Mallards, and a barnyard Muscovy Duck.


Canada Geese

The highlight of today's trip happened just south of Bridgewater. We had already seen a few American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks earlier in the day, but stopped to take a photo of a boldy colored hawk along Route 42.


Red-tailed Hawk

A few hundred yards north of there, a male American Kestrel was perched on a power line as it searched a field for a meal.


American Kestrel

The Red-tailed Hawk took off toward the field where the Kestrel was perched.


Red-tailed Hawk

The Kestrel wasn't very happy about this invasion into its hunting grounds, and took off after the hawk, and after a minute or so, drove the hawk back to where we had stopped.


American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk circled above us a few times, and then decided to look for a meal elsewhere.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk

Our last stop was at Swoope where we saw more Kestrels. Lake Smith was almost totally frozen over, but there was a small flock of Green-winged Teals and a few Mallards there.


Green-winged Teal


Green-winged Teal


Green-winged Teals



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