Birding in the Blue Ridge
I joined Allen Larner and three other Augusta Bird Club members for a field trip along the Blue Ridge this morning, but we didn't encounter nearly as many neotropical migrants as we had hoped. Vireos were fairly plentiful, but we only saw two warbler species (a Tennessee and a Magnolia) and heard one more (Hooded). Given that this is peak migration season, three is a substandard number for warblers. The highlights of the day were a few Scarlet Tanagers and Blue-headed Vireos, as well as some Juncos. Here is the complete list:
Location: Humpback Rocks Observation date: 9/12/09 Number of species: 27 Wild Turkey 1 * Turkey Vulture 8 Broad-winged Hawk 1 * Red-tailed Hawk 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 * Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 * Downy Woodpecker 5 Yellow-throated Vireo 1 * Blue-headed Vireo 4 Red-eyed Vireo 8 Blue Jay 4 American Crow 5 Common Raven 3 Carolina Chickadee 10 Tufted Titmouse 4 White-breasted Nuthatch 3 Carolina Wren 6 * European Starling 5 Tennessee Warbler 1 Magnolia Warbler 1 Hooded Warbler 1 * Scarlet Tanager 3 Eastern Towhee 1 * Dark-eyed Junco 5 Northern Cardinal 8 American Goldfinch 4 This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)
* Asterisks indicate birds that were heard but not seen.
After that we spent a half hour or so at the Rockfish Gap hawk watch, where Brenda Tekin and several other observers were scanning the horizon. We didn't see any large clusters of hawks, but I had the good fortune to spot a Bald Eagle off to the northwest, and most of the folks got to see it as it passed by heading east. A Red-tailed Hawk flew right in front of us, and briefly hovered motionless in the wind, as seen in the photos below. Even though it wasn't the best day for birding, the skies were clear, which was good for taking photographs:
Shortly before noon, Allen and I left Rockfish Gap, and he was kind enouigh to take me on a "tour" of the Quillen farm. Highlights:
- Indigo bunting (F)
- Red-headed woodpeckers (A, J)
That is one of the few locations in Augusta County where Red-headed woodpeckers can be seen on a routine basis. They are much less common in the east than in the central states.