I haven't done a lot of birding during the past two weeks. We've had on and off unhealthy smoke from Canadian wildfires, and when the air quality was better, there have been on and off severe thunderstorms combined with high temperatures and very muggy air.
Wildfire smoke occluding the view of the Rockfish Valley (6/28/2023)
I did a few short hikes here in Old Trail, and saw my first Blue Grosbeak of the year.
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron and Canada Geese
Blue Ridge Parkway & Route 610, VA; June 28
The wildfire smoke was a issue, but I wanted to check on the American Redstart chicks (hatched on June 6th) located a little way south of mm. 12. I was concerned that the severe thunderstorms and/or dense smoke might have been a problem for them. When I got to the nest location, I could not find the nest. It was tough enough to see at the beginning of the month. Now the leaves were larger and heavier, and the thin branches on which the nest had rested were now curved downward. Perhaps the nest was occluded by leaves, and I did see a male and a female Redstart foraging nearby, but they weren't bringing food to little ones. I'm hoping that the chicks had fledged and are okay.
Female American Redstart
First summer male American Redstart (seen a few miles from nest area)
Black and White Warbler
Female Eastern Towhee
Clover Lake; Albemarle County, VA; July 2&3
A Roseate Spoonbill had been seen by multiple birders at the far end of this lake between June 22 and June 27. While I had seen and photographed this species multiple times in Florida, I had never seen one in Virginia, and didn't bother to look to see where Clover Lake was until a couple of days after June 27. Turns out it was less than a 9 mile drive from my house. So I went there on July 2nd and again on July 3rd, but did not see the Spoonbill, and as far as I know, it has not been reported there again. We had heavy thunderstorms the few days before I was there, and I wonder if the Spoonbill took shelter elsewhere, or if the lake water level was now too high for the Spoonbill to wade. I did see four Green Herons there.
Rockfish Valley Trail; Nelson County, VA; July 6
Green Herons (and a large snapping turtle - second from left)
I needed to be in Nellysford this morning and went over to the trail to see if Yellow-breasted Chats had returned. They have bred there near the bog area every summer for at least a decade. Although Chats are no longer considered to be a warbler species, they were listed with warblers when I started keeping track of warbler species I have photographed each year starting in 2007, and for several years after that. I still needed this species for 2023, and I heard a pair of them calling as soon as I got onto the trail near the first wooden bridge off of Glenthorne Loop Road. The one that I photographed (my 20th 2023 "warbler" species) appears to be a female because of its light gray bill. Breeding males have a dark black bill.