Reddish Knob; Rockfish Valley Trail, VA, 7/1-2/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

The weather has been poor for birding for the past few days, and there is no forcasted change for at least another week. A stalled front has brought hot, humid, and an unstable atmosphere that is either cloudy, or mixed sun and clouds with a chance of thunderstorms almost every day.

Reddish Knob 7/1/15

We had a one day break in the potential thunderstorm forecast, and Walt Childs and I decided to go to Reddish Knob where the higher elevations would mean cooler temperatures. We stopped on the way there at Nazarenne Wetlands, and saw only a single Great Blue Heron and a few other species. As soon as we passed the reservoir along Briery Branch Road, we came to a small bridge and stopped when we saw a Louisiana Waterthrush on the road above the creek. I was able to get only a single, blurry photo of it through the car windshield, and it flew into the woods when we got out for a better look.

We didn't see many birds on the way up to Reddish Knob, and stopped at the four road intersection where Red Crossbills are often found. We didn't see any crossbills, but there were more than 100 bees in multiple groups on the gravel, presumably gathering moisture from the surface.


Bees


Bees

From this point to the summit, the road is narrow and single lane. The wind was picking up, and perhaps a storm was on its way. We passed a large branch that had fallen and had bent part of the guard rail, and a bit of the branch was sticking out into the road. A short distance later we saw a large tree that had come down next to the road, but it had fallen away from the road. We stopped at the intersection just before the final drive up to the summit. The wind was strong, and it made hearing birds difficult, and the blowing leaves made it difficult to spot bird movement in the trees. Before heading to the summit, we drove down the side road from the last intersection, and stopped where the road made a 90 degree turn to the left. I head and then saw an Eastern Towhee, and also warblers singing. We were lucky - there was a male and a female Canada Warbler, and two juvenile Canada Warblers - the first juveniles of this species I have ever seen.


Male Canada Warbler


Female Canada Warbler


Female Canada Warbler


First juvenile Canada Warbler


First juvenile Canada Warbler


First juvenile Canada Warbler


Second juvenile Canada Warbler


Second juvenile Canada Warbler

We stopped a little farther down this road when I heard a Black-throated Blue Warbler.


Black-throated Blue Warbler


Black-throated Blue Warbler


Black-throated Blue Warbler


Black-throated Blue Warbler

We then made a quick stop at the summit and decided to head back down as it was very windy and starting to cloud over. On the way down we stopped when we saw a strange looking bird in the road. Its posture reminded us of a Pipit or Horned Lark, but it wasn't either of those species. It then flew into a nearby tree, and we are fairly sure that it was only a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird.


Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird


Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird

We stopped at Natural Chimneys on the way home and saw a boldly colored Wood Thrush, making it 33 avian species for this day trip.

Rockfish Valley Trail 7/2/15

It was back in the soup and complete cloud cover this morning, and I drove the short distance to the Rockfish Valley Trail, and was prepared to cover my camera and head for home if it started to rain. I arrived there at 10:00 a.m., and by 11:15, I had 26 avian species there. They were all common summer trail residents, but it did turn out to be a special birding day for me.


Brown Thrashers


Female Red-winged Blackbirds


Eastern Kingbird


Eastern Phoebe

I heard a few Common Yellowthroats on the trail, but didn't spend much time looking for them. There have been Yellow-breasted Chats all summer long on the trail every year I have been birding there, and I have seen them on the trail this summer as well. Usually, they are high up in the trees, and it is rare for me to see more than one of them. They usually nest in or near the bog area. As I hiked past the bog area this morning, both Yellow-breasted Chats were at the edge of the bog area and in nearby trees, and between 2 and 15 feet from the ground, and I got lots of photos. It was difficult to pick out the best ones, but here are some that I liked the best.


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-breasted Chat



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