It was bright and sunny east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Walt Childs and I decided to head west over the mountains and check out the southern Shenandoah Valley. As we approached Rockfish Gap, we encountered fairly heavy fog, and were suprised to see so much fog in the Shenandoah Valley. But we continued on, hoping that the fog would clear by the time we reached our first stop: McCormick's Mill in Raphine (Rockbridge County).
The fog was starting to clear when we arrived, and by the time we left about an hour later, most of the fog was gone, and we had already logged 33 avian species on this trip.
Northern Flicker; Golden-crowned Kinglet
Our next stop was at Willow Lake where we added four new species: Canada Goose, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, and our first raptor of the day - a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Sharp-shinned Hawk; Gadwall
We then headed farther west, and drove south on New Providence Road - always a good place for us on previous trips there to find raptors. We soon saw our first Red-tailed Hawk of the day.
We stopped a short distance later when we saw a pair of Northern Harriers being chased by a crow. Once the crow left, the two harriers tangled with each other - perhaps working on their defensive skills.
Northern Harrier and American Crow
We continued down the road and stopped when we saw an American Kestrel, and Walt spotted a very distant Bald Eagle.
This turned out to be a very good day for seeing raptors. We ended up with 8 American Kestrels and 14 Red-tailed Hawks on this trip.
We saw a variety of smaller birds as well.
We ended the day trip in Swoope (Augusta County), where we saw the pair of resident Bald Eagles, and two more raptor species: Cooper's and Red-shouldered Hawks, and finished the day with 49 avian species.