Central Virginia, 10/12-16/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Birding in central Virginia has been poor for the past few weeks compared to previous fall migration times. I suspect that the very warm temperatures followed by a week of heavy rain plus an off-shore hurricane both delayed southerly migration, and then when it did start, forced many birds eastward over the Atlantic Ocean and west of the Allegheny Mountains.

October 12; Crozet, VA

Walt Childs and I started out at the Old Trail golf course pond and the common area brush field there, but we didn't see very many birds, except for a few sparrows and a few other common species.


Swamp Sparrow

We then hiked at Lickinghole Creek and Reservoir, but saw only a few birds there. We took a back road (Dick Woods Road) on the way home and saw a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks.


Red-shouldered Hawk


Red-shouldered Hawks

October 13; Rockfish Valley Trail

Walt and I did a morning hike on the trail, but once again, saw very few birds. Highlights were a pair of American Kestrels and a pair of common Yellowthroats.


American Kestrel


Immature male Common Yellowthroat


Immature male Common Yellowthroat


Immature male Common Yellowthroat

October 14; Blue Ridge Parkway and Waynesboro, VA

I had an errand to run up at the Wintergreen Mountain Resort, so I stopped at a few of my favorite birding spots there, but only saw a couple of Juncos. I headed down to Route 664, and then up to Reid's Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and took the parkway to Rockfish Gap. The autumn tree colors were spectacular, but there were very few birds to see. I then went to Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro, but once again, very few birds were there.


Northern Cardinal


White-throated Sparrow

October 15; Shenandoah Valley and Reddish Knob

The weather this day was ideal - clear and cloudless blue skies and cool temperatures. Walt Childs and I went west over the Blue Ridge, and stopped first at Leonard's Pond. There weren't many birds in the pond, but there were hundreds of migrating Tree Swallows. One of the power lines had so many swallows on it that the power line sagged under the weight.


Tree Swallows


Tree Swallows

By the time we left Leonard's Pond about 15 minutes after arriving there, we had seen 12 avian species.


White-crowned Sparrow

When I was post-processing my photos after returning home, I noticed something unusual in one photo at the far end of the pond. I don't know what it is, but it looks like some animal or possibly a Bald Eagle having a duck for a meal. Any ideas what this is would be appreciated.


???

We made some stops at Silver Lake, Nazarenne Wetlands, and a few other ponds, but only saw a few duck species and a Great Blue Heron. Near Dayton, we stopped when I saw a Red-tailed Hawk along the highway.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


American Black Duck x Mallard hybrid ?

Our last stop of this day trip was at Reddish Knob. I noticed something unusual at the far end of the Briery Branch Reservoir before heading up the mountain. It took us a minute to realize that it was a deer that was either very thirsty or was eating underwater algae. Neither of us had ever seen a deer with its head submerged before this time.


Deer

We didn't see many birds from there all the way to the summit, but at the top we had a 360 view of beautiful fall tree colors and about 60 miles of visibility. Best birds were a two Blue-headed Vireos at each of two locations. I was also impressed with the fresh plumage coloring on Black-capped Chickadees. We ended this day trip with 36 avian species.


Blue-headed Vireo


Blue-headed Vireo


Blue-headed Vireo


Blue-headed Vireo


Black-capped Chickadee


Black-capped Chickadee


Common Raven


Common Raven

October 16; Rockfish Valley Trail

I went for an early afternoon hike on the trail. I only saw eight avian species there, but did see a fair number of Song Sparrows.


Song Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Song Sparrow

We are expecting strong northwesterly winds and overnight temperatures below freezing this weekend. Perhaps some more birds will move our way.



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