Skyline Drive, VA, 6/22/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

It has been two seeks since my knee surgery, and I wanted to get out and exercise it a bit, but the high temperatures and humidity were too much for enjoyable birding. I decided to try Skyline Drive from its south end to Loft Mountain (25 miles north). The higher elevations provided cooler temperatures and a little breeze. I had already seen and photographed 19 warbler species this spring, and although I had seen and photographed Chestnut-sided Warblers many times in prior years, I hadn't seen one yet this year. I had heard that there was a colony of them this year on Loft Mountain.

I stopped at all the overlooks on the way there, and saw mostly Indigo Buntings and a few other species. Sawmill Ridge Overlook is a reliable spot for Pine Warblers and Chipping Sparrows, and this morning was no exception.


Indigo Bunting


Immature Pine Warbler


Adult Pine Warbler


Scarlet Tanager


White-tailed deer

Loft Mountain was a good plce for birding this morning. There were lots of birds around, and with all the campers there, the birds were unafraid of people. I had Gray Catbirds walk up to within a foot away from me on several occasions. There were a couple of juvenile Catbirds that were squawking at momma for some food, but she didn't seem to be moved by all the commotion.


View from Loft Mountain


Juvenile Gray Catbird


Gray Catbirds


Gray Catbirds


Gray Catbirds


American Robin

I hadn't seen a Chestnut-sided Warbler yet on Loft Mountain, and decided to make one more stop at the amphitheater before heading back down to Skyline Drive and heading home. There were more Catbirds, and a pair of Cedar Waxwings posed for a few photos.


Cedar Waxwing


Cedar Waxwing


Cedar Waxwing


Cedar Waxwing


Cedar Waxwing


Cedar Waxwing

And then I heard a flutter of wings, looked up, and saw a Chestnut-sided Warbler on a branch about two feet above my head - my 22nd species of the morning, and my 20th warbler species in 2015. I tried unsuccessfully to get a photo, and the warbler flew to a nearby tree, and then back again above my head and started singing. The singing brought more Chestnut-sided Warblers to the nearby trees, and I saw at least three of them.


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler



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