April 22, 2009
I've been driving all over Virginia during the last few days, it seems, and I have managed to stop and look for birds several times. The following report is in reverse chronological order:
At Lake Shenandoah east of Harrisonburg this afternoon, I saw the Common Loon that has been reported in recent weeks. It was in breeding plumage (mostly black), but too far away to see details. I haven't seen one of those in years. Also on the lake were a Pied-bill grebe, some Canada geese, and ducks of some sort. I also saw my first Yellow warbler of the season, a female just a few feet away. Ruby-crowned kinglets (including a male showing his red crown) and Yellow-rumped warblers also came very close to me while I was standing on the lake shore.
This morning in the town of Piney Grove in Nelson County, at the trail head where the railroad used to pass through, I heard and soon saw my first Prairie warbler of the season. They are very attractive, but rather uncommon on this side of the Blue Ridge. I also saw a Phoebe at the same place.
In the Blue Ridge just east of Buchanan on Tuesday, I saw a Black-throated green warbler for the first time this year, as well as a Phoebe. I also heard a Red-eyed vireo and a Redstart (or possibly a Black and white warbler) off in the distance. About time! In the afternoon east of Weyer's Cave, I saw an Osprey flying majestically overhead, likewise the first of the season.
After church on Sunday, while enjoying coffee and cookies, I heard the familiar chittering of Chimney swifts up above, and soon spotted a large number of them swirling around -- at least 20, I'd say. Yet another first-of-season observation.
I've been back to the trail behind the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad ("SARS") a couple times in the past few days, but to my surprise, no spring/summer warblers were there. The following list of highlights is pretty much the same as before:
Out back, Chipping sparrows are becoming ever more abundant: I counted ten of them at one point this afternoon! Meanwhile, the Pine siskins are less numerous than before, and perhaps some of them have already headed north.