Shenandoah Valley, VA, 7/15/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

It was a great day to be out birding. Temperatures in the high 70s, a slight breeze, and mostly sunny skies - what a change from the past few weeks. I drove over to the Swoope area southwest of Staunton. As I approached the entrance to the private property that includes Smith Lake (premission required to bird there), I heard a Willow Flycatcher singing.

Willow Flycatcher

I entered the property and parked near the lake. The knee high vegetation on the path along the south side of the lake indicated that it had not be mowed for a while, so I am glad that I remembered to spray my legs with bug/tick repellent prior to hiking there. There were quite a few birds to observe. I stopped a short distance down the path when I heard and then saw an American Kestrel fly out from a tree and then above the lake.

American Kestrel

Kestrels are common in the Swoope area, but what surprised me was that the Kestrel was being chased by a pair of Barn Swallows! I have seen Kestrels chasing hawks before, but this is the first time I have ever seen a Kestrel being chased.

American Kestrel and Barn Swallows

American Kestrel and Barn Swallows

American Kestrel and Barn Swallow

American Kestrel and Barn Swallow

American Kestrel and Barn Swallow

Less than a minute later, first one, and then the second, of the resident Bald Eagles flew from a nearby tree and headed toward their nest.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles

I saw Eastern Kingbirds and another flycatcher - probably an Alder Flycatcher. I had seen this species in almost the same location last summer, and an Alder Flycatcher had been reported nearby this summer. But it had a bug in its bill, and it wasn't singing.

Alder(?) Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

There were Great Blue and Green Herons along the lake, and I saw my first Yellow Warbler of 2015 (my 23rd warbler species in 2015).

Great Blue Heron

Green Heron

Yellow Warbler

There were Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies along the lake, and small and large turtles in the lake.




I did some more birding in the Swoope area, heard at least one Northern Bobwhite, and logged a few more species. I had 28 avian species for this trip when I left the Swoope area.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

The Augusta Springs Wetlands was less than 10 miles away, so I ended the outing there by walking the 2-mile trail. It wasn't very "birdy," but I added five more avian species to the trip list.

Immature Pied-billed Grebe

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