Swoope, VA, 5/20/16

All photos are Marshall Faintich

We haven't had many rain-free days here this spring, and with sunshine and a forecast that didn't call for rain until the evening, I drove west over the Blue Ridge and into the Shenandoah Valley. I hadn't been to Swoope for several weeks, and decided to go birding there, with a stop first at the nearby Augusta Springs wetlands. I haven't had really good birding luck at the wetlands on previous visits, but other birders have done well there, so perhaps a morning visit might work better for me. Unfortunately, I only saw about a dozen common species there. I did see a bird that I identified as an Eastern Phoebe in the field, but can see a yellow lower mandible in the photo. Perhaps it was an immature bird??


Eastern Phoebe(?)


Wood Duck


Eastern Towhee


Mallard

I then went to Swoope, and stopped first at Smith Lake (PRIVATE PROPERTY and PRIOR PERMISSION IS REQUIRED to enter) where I saw a Spotted Sandpiper, heard a Killdeer, and saw an Eastern Kingbird.


Eastern Kingbird

As I went back to my car, I heard and then saw an Alder Flycatcher.


Alder Flycatcher

The Alder Flycatcher then flew a short distance and started singing again.


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher

I exited the private property and drove on Cattleman Road, and stopped just before Livik Road. I saw a Yellow Warbler there, my 25th warbler species of this spring.


Yellow Warbler

I also heard another Alder Flycatcher singing, but could not locate it. This was unusual, as I had never seen or heard either Alder or Willow Flycatchers this far from the Middle River. I got back into my car, and continued a short distance on Cattleman Road, just past Livik Road, when I stopped my car. With my window already rolled down, I stopped the engine and took lots of photos of a Flycatcher only a few feet away from me. I wanted it to start singing so I could positively identify it, but it just sat there and remained quiet. I thought that it might be the Alder Flycatcher that I had just heard, but could not locate.


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher

I couldn't see the front of the bird, so I slowly backed up the car to get a side view. When I stopped the car, the flycatcher turned to face the road.


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher

I slowly pulled my car back up even with the flycatcher, and it was content with my taking as many close-up photos as I wanted to, but it would not sing for me. I thought it was going to sing at one point, but it was just teasing me!


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher


Alder Flycatcher

Well, what species was it? I think that based on the bill size and shape, high contrast white throat, lack of smudges on the undertail coverts, and complete but faint eye-ring, that I can rule out Eastern Pewee, but that leaves both the Willow and Alder Flycatchers as possiblilities. As I had never seen either of these species along that part of Cattleman Road, and had just heard an Alder Flycatcher when stopped a short distance away, it was most likely an Alder. If anyone has a different opinon, please let me know.

I turned down Trimble Mills Road, and then onto North Mountain Road, and stopped when I saw a pair of Bobolinks perched on a fence. The Bobolinks were flying back and forth looking for a meal on both sides of the road, along with an Eastern Meadowlark, two Red-winged Blackbirds, and a few Barn Swallows.


Bobolinks


Bobolinks


Bobolinks


Bobolink


Bobolink


Bobolink


Bobolink


Bobolink


Bobolink


Eastern Meadowlark


Eastern Meadowlark


Eastern Meadowlark


Eastern Meadowlark


Eastern Meadowlark



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