Blue Ridge Parkway 5/23/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Wasn't able to make it up to the parkway to look for warblers until 9:45 this morning, but I have been seeing them throughout the day up there on previous trips this month, so I was hoping for the best. As soon as I entered the parkway at the north end, I saw a Cooper's Hawk circling overhead. There were American Redstarts, Indigo Buntings, and Eastern Towhees all along the first 14 miles of the parkway that I travelled.

My first stop was at the cirque between mile markers 7 and 8, and the vegetation has grown so dense that I could only see birds that were at the outer edges of branches, or if I saw some movement. Unfortunately, there were lots and lots of swallowtail butterflies there, and most of the movement I saw was not avian. I did photograph one bird in flight that I cannot identify. It looks like it might be a nightjar. I also considered a woodpecker, but the combination of underwing and uppertail patterns do not match any of the local woodpeckers. Any opinions would be appreciated.

Unknown bird

I then headed down to Hickory Springs overlook (mm. 12) where I have been seeing Cerulean Warblers every year. Sure enough there were a few of them to the north of the overlook. I also saw another Chestnut-sided Warbler there.

Cerulean Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

As I walked to the south of the overlook I heard an unfamiliar warbler song. The dense tree cover made it difficult to locate, but I finally got a brief view of it - another Cerulean. The latest issue of Birdwatching has an interesting article written by the American Bird Conservancy on the rare Cerulean Warbler. I feel very lucky to able to see this species almost every time I stop at this overlook during warbler seasons.

Cerulean Warbler

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