Blue Ridge Parkway, VA 5/12/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I went up on the parkway this morning to check out my three favorite locations for warblers. I had suspected that Cerulean Warblers were nesting at the Rockfish Valley Overlook (mm 2), and I wanted to see if Canada Warblers had returned to the cirque between mm 7 and mm 8, and if Cerluean Warblers had returned to the Hickory Springs Overlook (mm 12) given another week of vegetative growth at that elevation.

After hearing my presentation at last Friday night's Virginia Society of Ornithology annual meeting, some of the field trip groups stopped at the Rockfish Valley Overlook and located the Cerulean Warbler nest just to the north of the overlook. When I got there this morning, it was overcast and quite windy. I could hear Cerulean and Kentucky Warblers, and American Redstarts, but couldn't locate them or any nests in the blowing tree leaves.

By the time I got to the cirque, the sun had come out, but it was still rather windy. There were lots of birds singing, including both woodland birds and warblers. A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk drifted across, never taking a single wing beat in the wind.


Red-tailed Hawk


Dark-eyed Junco


Indigo Bunting


Male Scarlet Tanager


Male Scarlet Tanager


Female Scarlet Tanager


Female American Redstart


Male American Redstart


Black and White Warbler

Canada Warblers have been at this location every year in May, and usually in the woods right at the road sign near the south end of the cirque. Sure enough, there were two Canada Warblers there. One of them quickly flew into deep vegetation, but the other one stayed out and was quite cooperative.


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler

My last stop was at Hickory Springs Overlook. The Cerulean Warblers have returned, and there were more Scarlet Tanagers. The same(?) Red-tailed Hawk flew by.


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


Male Scarlet Tanager


Male Scarlet Tanager


Male Scarlet Tanager


Male Scarlet Tanager


Male Scarlet Tanager


Male American Redstart


Millipede

There's dripping water at this overlook, and I saw a guy there washing up. He looked like a very skinny Santa Claus with white hair and a long white beard. I asked him if he were hiking the Appalachian Trail, as it crosses the parkway near there, and he answered yes, and that he had already hiked about 800 miles. He asked if I were a birder, and told me that his son was a birder. At that point, a Cerluean Warbler sang and then flew over our heads. I told him that he should tell his son that he saw a Cerulean, and he immediately called his son from there!

I heard an American Redstart singing, but it looked like a female, and it's usually the males that are singing. It turned out to be a first year male that was just starting to get its adult plumage.


Immature male American Redstart


Immature male American Redstart

Only five warbler species on this trip to the parkway, but the Canada Warbler made my day.



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