Rockfish, Blue Grass, and Shenandoah Valleys, VA, 11/2-4/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

November 2; Rockfish Valley Trail (Nelson County)

The Rockfish Valley Trail is only a 10 minute drive from my house, so it's a good spot for me to hike when I don't want to make a a long drive to go birding. I went for a short hike on the trail, and logged 17 avian species. There were quite a few sparrows out, but the tall grasses made them difficult to see and photograph.


This Song Sparrow may have bitten off more than it could chew


Field Sparrow


Red-tailed Hawk


White-throated Sparrow


Northern Cardinal

November 3; Blue Grass Valley (Highland County)

Walt Childs and I made the two hour drive to the Blue Grass Valley. This is an excellent place for seeing Bald and Golden Eagles in the winter, along with several hawk species. Interestingly, Turkey Vultures are there in the summer, but are absent in the winter. It was a long drive to see only 27 avian species that included a single Red-tailed Hawk and two American Kestrels, but no other hawks or eagles. When we saw Turkey Vultures there, Walt commented that the summer Blue Grass Valley lease agreement for the Turkey Vultures must not have expired yet for the year :-)

The highlight of the trip was seeing three woodpecker species: Hairy, Red-bellied, and Downy in the same tree at the same time, along with a White-breasted Nuthatch.


Turkey Vulture


Hairy Woodpecker


White-breasted Nuthatch


Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches


American Kestrel


Belted Kingfisher

We saw a large flock of Common Grackles, and the bright sunlight was reflected from their feathers in brilliant greens, blues, purples, and browns.


Common Grackles


Common Grackles


Common Grackles

Blue Grass Valley Bird List (11/3/15):

Mallard
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Common Raven
American Crow
Blue Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Pine Siskin

We stopped along Bells Lane and at the Day's Inn pond near Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley (Augusta County) on the way home, and added four more avian species to the day's list: Song Sparrow, Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Cardinal, and saw our second Red-tailed Hawk of the day.


Wood Ducks and Green-winged Teals


Red-tailed Hawk

November 4; Rockfish Valley Trail

I went over to the trail this morning, and logged 20 avian species there.


Swamp Sparrow


Carolina Wren


Song Sparrow


Eastern Bluebird


Blue Jay

Rockfish Valley Trail Bird List (11/4/15):

Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark
American Goldfinch

When I got back home to Stoney Creek (Wintergreen), I took a short hike from the end of my street and added seven more avian species to this morning's list: Pied-billed Grebe, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk, Tufted Titmouse, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carolina Chickadee, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, giving me the same day total as yesterday, but I didn't have to drive 160 miles round-trip!


Hairy Woodpecker


Belted Kingfisher


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers


Pied-billed Grebe


Pied-billed Grebe


Pied-billed Grebe



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