May 30, 2010 [LINK / comment]
It's been a long time since I have reported on my bird-watching adventures on this blog -- about seven weeks, actually. This is partly due to the fact that until recently I just hadn't done as much birding as usual for the spring, and partly due to various Web site upgrade chores. Since I had a fairly successful bird outing today, it's high time to get caught up with things, hence this rather belated post. The subsections are listed in reverse chronological order, as blog posts are customarily presented, with the newest items at the top.
Today we woke up at the crack of dawn and ventured out to the Blue Ridge Parkway,* and hiked to the top of Humpback Rocks for the first time in nearly two years. It was a bit hazy and humid, but the temperatures were mild and the skies were mostly clear. Arriving early really paid off, as the summit and trail got very crowded later in the morning. Certain noisy family groups detracted from the natural experience, unfortunately. Unlike the previous time we were there (Aug. 8, 2008), I made sure the camera battery was charged. I was lucky to have a great close-up photo-op with a Scarlet Tanager; see below. Scenic photos from our day trip will appear in a separate blog post. Today's highlights:
Plus I heard (but didn't see) a Hooded Warbler, several Cerulean Warblers, and of course many Red-eyed Vireos.
* This year is the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was completed in 1935 as one of President Franklin Roosevelt's economic stimulus projects during the Great Depression. I liked the design and think the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway project was among the most worthwhile public works of the New Deal, so I bought myself a commemorative T-shirt. As part of this observance, they are having a series of special cultural and nature-related events at the Humpback Rocks visitor center this summer.
May 23: Jacqueline and I drove to northern Augusta County last Sunday, with no fixed itinerary, but our trip ended up being influenced by adverse weather conditions. We spent most of our time in and around Elkhorn Lake, with brief stops at Todd Lake and the town of Mount Solon. Highlights:
May 22: Prior to helping out with the church garden project the Saturday before last, I stopped at Madison Run and hiked up the trail for about an hour. Highlights:
That same day, I also stopped at the James Madison University arboretum. Highlights:
May 15: Just in time for the tail end of migration season, I managed to get out to Augusta Springs nature area, and was happy to spot several first-of-year neotropical migrants from "south of the border." Highlights:
* (E.K. = Elliott Knob) On the way back to Staunton, I drove through the Swoope area, and got decent photos of the following:
May 8: The Augusta Bird Club's annual picnic at Montgomery Hall Park was a major disappointment, as high winds discouraged birds from flying, and made it hard to hear their songs. Some club members saw a Yellow-billed cuckoo and a warbler or two, but about all my group saw were an Eastern Wood Pewee (FOS), a Red-eyed Vireo, and a Downy Woodpecker.
Apr. 24: For me, Big Spring Day this year was a big bust, in stark contrast to last year. My only significant find was a brief view of a Great crested Flycatcher, the only one spotted in Augusta County that day. Highlights:
I also made a number of important sightings during brief stops on the way home from work, etc. All of the birds listed below are first-of-season (FOS) sightings, which exclude birds I have positively identified by hearing alone:
Cedar waxwings were present in our neighborhood for about a week earlier this month, but no neotropical migrants as we have had in years past. One day there was a male Towhee singing, which is very unusual for in town. Downy woodpeckers have been at the suet feeder almost every day, but the number of Goldfinches and House finches is far below normal.
Whew! Well, that should just about cover it. And so, I am in the process of updating the Annual arrival page...