Walt Childs and I went birding in western Augusta County on the North River Loop of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. Although the end of July isn't a great time of year to go birding here, all of the stops were new locations for me, and we wanted to take advantage of the cooler temperature (upper 80s) and drier air.
We arrive at our first stop, Hone Quarry (#4 on the map) at 9:30. Although we didn't see too many birds there, a female Black-throat Blue Warbler was foraging in the shade of a tree, and I saw an unusual bird fly quickly into the low brushy vegetation at the edge of the lake. The bird was black with some red wing markings, and my thought was a Red-winged Blackbird. But as it slowed to enter the brush, it spread its tail feathers, and they all had white tips. I wasn't able to get any photos of the bird, and couldn't coax it out of the brush for another view. My best guess is that it was a RWBB, and the white tips were a leucistic feature. We also saw a small flock of Cedar Waxwings there, and the flock flew into a small tree and disappeared! A few minutes later, the flock emerged from the dense canopy and headed across the lake.
Female Black-throat Blue Warbler
We made a quick stop at Briery Lake (#5), but all we saw were some American Goldfinches. From there we headed to Flagpole Knob (#6) and Reddish Knob (#7).
Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
One of our day's best birding stops was on the road down from Reddish Knob. We kept listening for birds as we drove, and occasionally stopped to take a look. At one point I heard multiple bird songs, and within about 100 feet along the road we saw multiple species. Highlights were a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, a Blue-headed Vireo, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch. The RB Nuthatch is a winter bird here, and seeing one during the summer months is unusual.
From there we headed down Tilghman Road toward Hearthstone Lake (#8). Along the way we saw a house that had 4 hummingbird feeders, and we counted 12 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds there at one time. The road off of Tilghman up to the Hearthstone Lake was impossible to drive without a four wheel drive vehicle with high clearance and off-road tires, so we passed on that stop.
Our last birding stop of the trip was at the Natural Chimneys Regional Park (#10). There were a lot of people there on a Sunday afternoon, but we still managed to see a few birds, and ended our birding trip with 29 species.
Today's list (29 species):