Rockfish Valley Trail 6/9/11

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Paul D., our RVF Bluebird activity manager, alerted me that a nest in one of the upstream trail Bluebird boxes had four white eggs earlier this year, and now there were three blue eggs and one white egg in the same nest. We agreed that it would be interesting to see if either of the adults, especially the female, has any different plumage markings that might indicate a genetic variation.

It was already 80+ degrees when I left my house at 8:30 this morning. I quickly checked the Bluebird box to make sure it was the correct nest, and saw two blue eggs and two recently hatched chicks, so I closed the box and headed off, returning about ten minutes later. I am assuming that I had looked at the correct box. When I returned, the female was on the box, and then flew up to a nearby branch to sit with the male.

Female Eastern Bluebird

Female Eastern Bluebird

Female and male Eastern Bluebirds

Although the female does have a very gray head with little blue coloring, it does not appear to be out of the norm of the coloring I have seen on other females. It was getting even hotter, so I headed back to my car, watching and listening to a very vocal Eastern Meadowlark.

Eastern Meadowlark

However, when I got to my car I decided to brave the heat and hike to the bog area and back before heading home. On the downstream trail, a little way past the picnic table, I heard and then saw two small animals racing toward me in the dense vegetation. My first thought was a pair of squirrels, and it wouldn't be the first time when one squirrel chasing another was not paying attention to me and almost ran over my foot.

When the pair was about ten feet in front of me they came out of the brush and were in the open on the trail path. The first one was a small rabbit, and it was being chased by a mink! The rabbit ran right past my foot, and made a quick turn back into the brush. The mink almost ran across my foot, and continued down the trail path another ten feet before heading into the brush. This all happened very quickly, and I could only get one photo of the mink just after it passed me.

Common Mink

A couple of ragged Turkey Vutures flew overhead, and there were a few birds out in this heat. On the way back to my car I saw a small flock of Barn Swallows. When I got back to my car at 10:00, it was already 90 degrees. Too hot for birding, but I had an interesting morning on the trail.

Turkey Vuture

Barn Swallows

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