Reddish Knob, VA, 7/31/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs and I wanted to take advantage of the sunny skies and much drier air, but the end of July (and the beginning of August) is usually a poor time for birding here in Central Virginia. We decided to go to Reddish Knob in the Allegheny Mountains to look for warblers.

We exited I-81 at Mt. Crawford, and shortly thereafter, as we were driving west, we stopped when we saw a large, white bird flying to the east. By the time I got out of my car with my camera, it was already gone. We both saw bright white with black on the wings. Walt thought that the black was all along the trailing edge of the wings, but he got a better look at the bird as I was driving at the time. My first impression was an American White Pelican, but Walt thought a gull species. Neither of us got a good look at its bill, and it didn't seem to fly like a pelican or a Wood Stork, but it appeared to both of us as very large for a gull. Perhaps it was a White Ibis?

We didn't see a lot of birds on the way up to Reddish Knob on Briery Branch Road - mostly Black-capped Chickadees in the dense tree canopies. We did see an Osprey circling above the reservoir at the base of the mountain.


Osprey


Black-capped Chickadee


Black-capped Chickadee

Just before the four road intersection where Red Crossbills are often found, we saw our first warbler of the day - a quick look at an Ovenbird. We didn't see any crossbills - only some American Goldfinches at this intersection.


Ovenbird

We stopped at the intersection just before the final drive up to the summit. This has been a good location for Black-throated Blue Warblers, but we didn't see any there, and decided to drive down the side road from the intersection, rather than going to the summit. Along the way to where the road made a 90 degree turn to the left, we saw a few Blue-headed Vireos to add to the Red-eyed Vireos we had seen on the way up, and our second Ovenbird of the day.


Ovenbird

Just past the turn in the road, we had our trip highlight. On July 1st of this year, we saw a male and a female Canada Warbler and two juvenile Canada Warblers at this turn in the road. Today, the male Canada Warbler popped up very close to us to say hello.


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler


Canada Warbler

We headed back down to the four road intersection, and instead of heading back, we took the road west and down the mountain into West Virginia. Previously, we had explored only a short distance down this road, but wanted to see what might be found there. We stopped when I heard a warbler singing. There was a single Black-throated Green Warbler high up in the tree canopy.


Black-throated Green Warbler

We didn't see many more birds all the way down the west side of the mountain. We stopped when we heard and saw a Pine Warbler and three Cedar Waxwings.


Cedar Waxwing

When we finally reached the bottom, we had a choice of heading south or north to go home. My car GPS gave us a choice of shorter and slower to the south, and longer but quicker to the north. We decided to go north as that route would take us to Route 33 and Switzer's Dam. We mad a quick stop at Switzer's Dam, but only saw a few Goldfinches there. We ended the trip with 30 avian species, including the mystery white bird, and only four warbler species. But it was a fun trip, and the autumnal migration will be starting in a few weeks.



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