October 22, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Calfpasture Valley excursion

The weather wasn't as nice as yesterday, but Jacqueline wanted to see the fall foliage before it's too late, and I concurred. So we took a pleasant day trip to the far reaches of western Augusta County today, including some areas we had never seen before. On the way, we stopped at the Augusta Springs wetlands and did the quick boardwalk circuit walk, but not many birds were present. After that we continued further southwest, passing through Craigsville, and then took a rough road across the Great North Mountain, passing through Ramsey Gap, not to be confused with Ramsey's Draft to the north. At the highest point, where there is a trail crossing, we stopped for a snack. I scouted around and soon came upon a group of at least ten Wild turkeys, the greatest number of full-grown ones I had ever seen in one place. They quickly scattered as I approached, creating quite a ruckus. Then we headed downhill into the isolated and idyllic Calfpasture River Valley, which was quite placid and scenic, as this photo attests:

Calfpasture Valley fall foliage

Looking east toward Great North Mountain from the Calfpasture River Valley. On the other side is Augusta Springs.

We proceeded for several miles through the Calfpasture Valley to the small town of Deerfield, where we got a cup of coffee to warm up. Finally we reached U.S. Highway 250 and headed back east toward Staunton, stopping at a fall festival at the Cestari / Chester Farms in Churchville, where they raise sheep and produce their own wool products. (I love wool!)

Birds were relatively scarce throughout the day, but there were a few big surprises, most notably the Wild turkeys and Blue-headed vireo I saw at Ramsey Gap. Today's highlights:

On my way out to the Augusta Bird Club's annual bird seed sale in Verona yesterday, I drove along Bell's Lane and saw: