Rockfish Valley Trail 8/4/10

We got almost 1/2 inch of rain during the night, and when I woke up this morning it was gray and heavy overcast outside, so I decided to stay home and do some computer work. Around 8:15, I noticed that it was getting bright outside - the fog was lifting and there was only a thin cloud layer, so I changed my mind, and hurried to get out of the house. When I left the house, it was only 77 degrees outside, but 92% humidity.

Went straight to the small parking area on Glenthorne Loop near the first wooden bridge, and arrived at 8:55. I was immediately greeted by a juvenile Cooper's Hawk that flew across Reids Creek. All I got was a quick shot of it.

Cooper's Hawk

I went quickly across the bridge, but could not see it, so I walked around Yellow Bird Thicket and the bog area, but there were very few birds to be seen or heard. I suspect that many of them were in hiding because of the hawk. So I crossed back over the bridge, and walked that side of Glenthorne Loop - again, not too many birds. When I got close to the second wooden bridge, the Cooper's Hawk once again flew across Reids Creek, and I did not see it again. But within a few minutes there was a lot of bird activity on the trail. I spent 1-1/2 hours there, mostly on Glenthorne Loop, and recorded 22 species:

Indigo Bunting
Field Sparrow
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Wood-Pewee
American Goldfinch
Song Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Barn Swallow
Eastern Towhee
Turkey Vulture
American Crow
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Kingbird
Cooper's Hawk
Carolina Wren
Carolina Chickadee

female Scarlet Tanager

Song Sparrow

juvenile Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Kingbird

I had been in the soupy sweat bath long enough, and decided to head home. However, I am a glutton for punishment, and stopped at the main trail head kiosk, and my poorer judgment ruled, and I hiked another 30 minutes on the upstream trail, adding 3 more species: Black Vulture, Flicker, and the Rock Pigeons under the route 151 bridge have just hatched.

Rock Pigeons

This is the first time I have seen Kingbirds on the trail since the spring. This may be a good sign. Birding the trail in early August is usually sparse, but between the seven warbler species I saw on the parkway during the past week, and the Kingbirds today, perhaps we are in store for a good fall birding season.

When I got home, our neighborhood juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was in our back yard today, and it looks like it was either drying out its wings, or perhaps airing them out in this steam bath weather.

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

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