Central Virginia, 7/22-23/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Mid-July through mid-August here in central Virginia is usually the time of the year for the "birding doldrums." Hot and muggy weather makes for uncomfortable birding, and it's hard to find any new birds. However, it is a good time to observe juvenile birds as they start to get adult plumage. We also had a break in the weather, as a cool front moved in from the northwest and lowered the dew point from the low-70s to the mid-50s, and the temperatures were in the low 80s instead of the low 90s.

Highland and Rockingham Counties; July 22

Walt Childs and I decided to make the drive up to Switzer's Dam in the northwest corner of my "central" Virigina birding area. There were reports five days ago of 10 warbler species there. We didn't see many birds, but did see a few good birds. The only warblers we saw were a pair of Black and White Warblers, and a family of Pine Warblers. We heard what might have been a Hooded Warbler, but couldn't confirm it, and had a quick view of a juvenile thrush that might have been a Wood Thrush, but Veery and Hermit Thrush were also possible species for this bird. There were a lot of American Goldfinches feeding on the thistle flowers.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird


American Goldfinches


Female Black and White Warbler


Male Black and White Warbler


Male Black and White Warbler


Pine Warblers: Papa showing junior how to forage


Pine Warblers: Papa showing junior how to forage


Thrush


Red-eyed Vireo


Blue-headed Vireo


Blue-headed Vireo

We decided to try our luck in the Swoope area, and stopped at the Nazarenne Wetlands on our way south. We didn't see many birds at Nazarenne. As soon as we got to Smith Lake in the Swoope area, we saw one of the resident Bald Eagles take off from near the river bed.


Bald Eagle

The lake and area around it was fairly quiet, but I did see a female and a juvenile Wood Duck.


Female Wood Duck


Juvenile Wood Duck

We did a little more birding in the Swoope area, and ended the day with about 25 avian species. There was a pair of Empidonax Flycatchers along Cattleman Road. I had seen Willow Flycatchers near there last week, and although these two birds were not singing, I think that they were both Willows as well.


Willow Flycatchers


Willow Flycatcher


Willow Flycatcher

Nelson and Albemarle Counties; July 23

As I was putting my gear in the car this morning, I heard a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks flying over my house. The weather wasn't quite as pleasant as it was yesterday, but still a lot better than it has been the past few weeks. I went over to Lickinghole Creek and Reservoir in Crozet. A young deer "froze" as I started my hike there, but the vegetation was dense and birds were few and far between. I logged 15 avian species there, and heard what might have been a Black-billed Cuckoo across the reservoir.


White-tailed Deer

It was getting hot at lower elevations, so I drove up and birded along the first 14 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of the birds there were Goldfinches and Towhees, but I did see a few good birds. I heard a Common Raven and one or more Wood Thrushes.


American Goldfinches


Eastern Towhee


Scarlet Tanager


Indigo Bunting


Indigo Buntings


Indigo Bunting


Male American Redstart getting its adult plumage



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