I can't tell you the number of times a good bird photo has been wrecked by a loud idiot. Up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I often get my shot interrupted by someone stopping their car and yelling out, "Are you photographing a bear?" In Florida, it was "Are you photographing an alligator?" And in the North Atlantic Ocean, it was "Are you photographing a whale?" If I am in a good mood, and the bird was not either a super rare species or a once in a lifetime shot, I usually respond, "Only if it has feathers!" But I got interrupted this morning with a new idiot question.
After two days of heavy rain, with only a short break yesterday afternoon, and with more rain in the forecast, I headed up to Route 610 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I hadn't been up there in a week, and the first two weeks of October can produce some late season migrating warblers. There was heavy cloud cover, but no fog when I started out. I only heard three non-warbler birds along 610. When I got to the south end of the cirque (mm. 7.5) on the parkway, there were only a few birds. But I saw three or four warbler type birds flitting around high up in one of the trees on the east side of the parkway. The leaves haven't turned yet - only a few starting to get yellow or brown, and the wet leaves hung like laundry hanging on a clothes line. Between the leaves and the dark skies, most of what I was seeing was only dark silhouettes of these birds, making identification a challenge. I did manage to get a couple of poor photos of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Cape May Warbler.
Cape May Warbler
I spent at least 10 minutes trying to identify and photograph these birds. Finally, one of them dropped down and perched in the open about 10 feet above ground level. I was standing on the road shoulder right across the parkway, and as I raised my camera to identify and photograph this warbler, a woman stopped her car right under that branch, and yelled out to me, "Do you really think that is a good photo?" Of course, the warbler flew before I could even see it in focus. I only responded, "I'm taking bird photos," and she drove off. She was lucky that was all that I said to her.
I was up to about 10 avian species now, but only 1 warbler that I could count, so I headed farther south on the parkway. From mm. 8 all the way to Three Ridges Overlook (mm. 13.1), there was dense fog. There were quite a few small birds out at this stop, especially surprising as a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was also perched at this overlook, but no warblers.
My first of season White-throated Sparrow
One of two Blue-headed Vireos
Rather than turning around and driving back through the fog, I drove down Route 664 at Reids Gap, and did a little more birding on the Rockfish Valley Trail. This trail used to be great for migrating warblers during the first two weeks of October, but clearing of adjacent habitat changed all of this. I did manage to see three more warbler species there, including both Palm Warbler subspecies.
And one photo from yesterday afternoon here in Old Trail (Crozet).