July 6, 2015 [LINK / comment]
Star-spangled winning weekend in Washington!
After dropping the second two games in Atlanta, the Washington Nationals returned home somewhat chastened, to face the world champion San Francisco Giants. On Friday night, Gio Gonzalez had a shutout going until Buster Posey hit a solo home run in the seventh inning. But in the bottom of the inning, Clint Robinson hit a two-run homer, and Gio got the win after all. It was his second straight winning performance, after his start on the preceding Saturday had been wasted in a postponed game. Nats 2, Giants 1.
On the Fourth of July, just after 11:00 in the morning, the fearsome Madison Bumgarner took the mound, and on the very first pitch rookie Michael Taylor lined a home run into the left field seats. Pow! Then Yunel Escobar stepped up to the plate and crushed a ball to the corner in center field, ricocheting off the wall to the right for a double. Bam! Then Bryce Harper came to the plate, and he smashed the ball into the right field bullpen for a two-run homer. Ka-boom! Talk about July 4 fireworks! (Gratuitous cliché.) After throwing only five pitches, Bumgarner had already given up three runs. The cleanup hitter, Wilson Ramos, then singled, making Nats fans giddy in hopes of scoring even more runs, but the next three batters were out. For his part, Stephen Strasburg had a much better outing on the mound, but he developed another muscle strain in the fourth inning, and had to come out of the game. (He was placed on the 15-day disabled list yet again.) Tanner Roark replaced him on the mound, and gave up two runs over the next four and one-third innings, while the Nats piled on more runs. Nats 9, Giants 3.
The Sunday game was pushed back to 8:00 PM because it was on ESPN. It resembled the Friday game with very few runs scored. Jordan Zimmermann went seven strong innings, and Wilson Ramos provided the decisive batting with a line drive home run over the high scoreboard in right field in the sixth inning. He has amazing opposite-field power. Nats 3, Giants 1. And that is how the Nationals got a bit of revenge for last year's NLDS loss to the team that went on to become the world champions.
Half way through the season
For the Nationals, Sunday night's game marked the half way point in the 2015 season, which has been satisfactory overall, though a bit below expectations. I have summarized the year so far with data on the newly-updated Washington Nationals page. Note that two of the first-string players (Yunel Escobar and Max Scherzer) are new this year, meaning that I don't have a photo for them yet. Well, that's going to change tomorrow, when I finally see a Nats game in D.C.! And guess who's pitching?!
The loss of Stephen Strasburg to the DL, the uncertain status of Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth, as well as repeated missed games by Denard Span, all raise questions about whether the Nationals can go the distance. After the Nats loss to the Cincinnati Reds tonight, the New York Mets are only 3 1/2 games behind the Nats, and pose a potential threat to the Nats' postseason hopes.
In the other National League divisions (which I seldom have time to cover adequately), the St. Louis Cardinals are dominating the NL Central as usual, but their rivals Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs are both well over .500, and have to be considered serious prospects for the two wild card slots. Young Cubs sluggers Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo offer high hopes for years to come. In tonight's game against the Cardinals, superstar ace pitcher Jon Lester had a no-hitter going until the seventh inning, but the Cubs ended up losing (again), 6-0. In the NL West, meanwhile, the L.A. Dodgers have maintained a comfortable lead over the S.F. Giants, who have lost six in a row.
In the American League, the Kansas City Royals have achieved the highest winning percentage for the last few weeks, after the Minnesota Twins briefly surpassed them in the AL Central race. It's a real shock to me that the Detroit Tigers are in third place, barely above .500. Another huge surprise is in the AL West, where the Houston Astros (formerly of the National League) have been playing solid baseball all year. The L.A. Angels and Texas Rangers have both improved lately, narrowing the gap somewhat. The most competitive division of all is the AL East, in which four of the five teams were momentarily within a half game of each other. The Tampa Bay Rays had the division lead for the first ten weeks or so, but they have slumped recently, while the New York Yankees have surged into first place. And who is leading their offense? None other than bad boy A-Rod Rodriguez. Other young Yankee stars are emgerging, and the team may become a contender for the World Series again in another year or two -- but probably not this year.
All-Star Game rosters are set
To the surprise of no one, two Washington Nationals players were selected to the 2015 National League All-Star team: Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Perhaps some Nats fans were surprised that neither Yunel Escobar nor Denard Span made it as reserve players, despite their superb accomplishments at bat (.315 and .304 batting averages) and on defense (only 1 and 3 respective errors) this year. Scherzer was named NL Pitcher of the Month for the second month in a row, but the other Nats pitchers have not been consistent enough on the mound this year. There was a lot of controversy over a flood of online ballots for Kansas City Royals players. Four K.C. players were chosen for the starting lineup, which is more than all of them put together for the last 20 years, if I heard correctly. Hm-m-m-m. Too much "democracy"? I suppose there will be changes to the voting procedures next year. Here are my picks, and the actual selections for the 2015 ASG:
2015 All-Star Game Starting Rosters
|| National League
|| American League
|| Wilson Ramos
| Buster Posey
| Stephen Vogt
| Salvador Perez
|| Anthony Rizzo
| Paul Goldschmidt
| Miguel Cabrera
| Miguel Cabrera
|| Yunel Escobar
| Dee Gordon
| Jason Kipnis
| Jose Altuve
|| Kris Bryant
| Todd Frazier
| Manny Machado
| Josh Donaldson
|| Troy Tulowitzki
| Jhonny Peralta
| Alcides Escobar
| Alcides Escobar
|| Bryce Harper
| Bryce Harper
| Mike Trout
| Mike Trout
|| Andrew McCutchen
| Giancarlo Stanton
| Brett Gardner
| Lorenzo Cain
|| Denard Span
| Matt Holliday
| Jacoby Ellsbury
| Alex Gordon
|| Nelson Cruz
| Nelson Cruz
Given the mismatch between my picks and the actual teams, my biases are pretty obvious. The complete rosters were released today. For all the details, see MLB.com. All that's left now is the final vote, but no Nationals are among them, so I have no strong preference. The All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday next week, on the banks of the Ohio River. Unfortunately, Bryce Harper will not be participating in the Home Run Derby because his father is suffering ill health and cannot attend. (He pitched to Bryce in the Home Run Derby two years ago.)
Wrigley Field (L.A.) update
Speaking of former minor league ballparks in California (I recently redid San Francisco's Seals Stadium) that served briefly in the major leagues, I learned last month (while watching Turner Classic Movies) that Wrigley Field (L.A.) was the setting for a football-themed movie, Easy Living, in addition to the many baseball movies filmed there over the years. So you know what that means: a new diagram! (Boy, was that a tight squeeze!) I also included a lower-deck diagram, and made a few very small corrections.
July 8, 2015 [LINK / comment]
"That's gotta hurt!" Nationals' fans share players' agony
I could tell as soon as I saw the Nationals lineup on the scoreboard yesterday evening that it might be a rough game. I joined my old friend Dave Givens, along with Jacqueline (a "part-time" baseball fan ), for what I had assumed would be a fairly easy game against the fourth-place Cincinnati Reds. After all, All-Star Max Scherzer was pitching! But not only was the Nats' lineup severely depleted due to more injuries (both Denard Span and Yunel Escobar were hurt), but the Reds' pitching ace Johnny Cueto was on the mound. I soon found out how good he really is.
Cincinnati Reds players at the batting cage before the game. At lower left is former Nats pitcher Ryan Mattheus, who walked over to chat with folks at the Nats dugout.
I made a point to get to the ballpark early, taking photos during batting practice, but was still fumbling with food and beverages when the first players came to bat. By the time I sat down, the Reds were already ahead thanks to a single by Brandon Phillips and a double by Joey Votto. Two batters later, the Reds were ahead 2-0, after Jay Bruce hit a triple to right-center field. On the next play he was tagged out trying to score on a weak ground ball to first base, or else it might have been 3-0. Bad base-running.
Michael Taylor can't quite catch the ball hit by Jay Bruce at the right field wall, as Bryce Harper watches.
In the bottom of the first, the Nats got two runners on base with one out, thanks to an error by Joey Votto and a bloop single to left field by Bryce Harper, but they failed to capitalize on the opportunity. For the next two and a half innings nobody from either team reached base, except for Joey Votto, who hit a home run into the right field bullpen in the third inning. In the bottom of the fourth, the first two Nats players reached base, on a walk to Bryce Harper and another Reds' error, but once again the Nationals failed to score.
Max Scherzer, pitching in the top of the fourth inning.
Johnny Cueto, feeling better after getting Clint Robinson to ground into a double play in the bottom of the fourth. Bryce Harper made it to third base in that play, but no farther.
The Nats' hopes for a comeback sank in the fifth inning, when the Reds scored two more runs on three hits, a sac fly, and a hit by pitch (unintentional*). Max Scherzer was obviously having problems with control, and was replaced. In the bottom of the fifth, Ian Desmond had a leadoff triple, but the next three batters struck out. For some #@&% reason, Matt Williams had the relief pitcher Taylor Jordan bat, rather than put in a pinch hitter to get Desmond across home plate. In fact, no Nationals players even reached base for the rest of that game.
Ian Desmond slides into third base on a leadoff triple in the fifth inning.
Amazingly, the Nats' rookie relief pitcher Taylor Jordan did very well (on the mound at least), preventing the Reds from scoring for the next three innings. In the ninth, Sammy Solis took the mound, and likewise did well. But of course, none of that mattered. The Reds' Johnny Cueto gave up only two hits during the complete game shutout. If that's not a testament to his pitching ability, I don't know what is. He clearly deserves the final slot in the National League All-Star roster. Joey Votto ended up a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, perhaps hoping for a spot in the All-Star Game in front of his home-town fans.
Joey Votto at first base, in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Discouraged by what they saw, many fans left during the last couple innings. Paid attendance was 31,898, but I estimated that only about 28,000 fans were actually there. Final score: Reds 5, Nationals 0. As a result of the five runs he gave up, Max Scherzer's ERA rose from 1.82 to 2.12. [His win-loss record is 9-7.] For all the gory details, see MLB.com.
* I was wondering if Scherzer was going to get revenge on the Reds for having "plunked" so many Nats batters when they swept the series in Cincinnati at the end of May. No, he didn't. Ironically, the current issue of the Inside Pitch mini-magazine/program has Max Scherzer on the cover, with the title "Untouchable." Not quite. Nobody's perfect.
The southwest entrance to Nationals Park, after the game.
The above photo, and a few others, will soon be posted on the Nationals Park page. NOTE: I usually depart via the main gate on the north side, but I found a parking lot next to the Frederick Douglass bridge, only a block away. It was worth the $20 we paid.
So, my first game at Nationals Park this year was a bit of a letdown, but you can't win them all. With only three regular position players, plus Danny Espinosa, who has become a virtual regular, the game outcome was not unexpected. Hopefully it doesn't signify another downturn in this roller-coaster year. The last time I saw the Nats play the Reds was in Cincinnati last July, with the visitors winning 4-2 thanks in part to great pitching by Doug Fister.
The third and final game of the Reds-Nationals series tonight has been rained out, and will have to be played at some mutually-convenient future date. That's a relief for the banged-up Nationals. Those teams were not scheduled to play each other again this year.
July 10, 2015 [LINK / comment]
Nats let another win slip away
Beginning the weekend interleague series in Baltimore this evening, Yunel Escobar was back in the lineup for the Nationals, and Gio Gonzalez was on the mound, so there was reason for a better outcome than against the Reds. Gio went six-plus strong innings, giving up just one run (a homer by Adam Jones in the fourth inning), putting himself in line for the win. Tyler Moore and Michael Taylor got clutch RBIs in the [fifth] inning to take a 2-1 lead. But the bullpen faltered yet again, as the O's scored one in the eighth and one in the ninth. Tanner Roark got two strikeouts in the ninth, looking in command, and then Jonathan Schoop (pronounced "Scope") reached on a pretty good outside slider and somehow hit a line drive that barely cleared the left-field wall for a home run. And so, the Nats lost to the Orioles, 3-2.
Yunel Escobar had been suffering from a tight hamstring earlier in the week, but he's good enough to play. But Denard Span has lingering severe back tightness, which needs to be properly treated, so he has been put on the 15-day disabled list. Fortunately, an MRI showed "no structural damage." In his place, infielder Wilmer Difo has been called up from the minors. See MLB.com
Fortunately, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth are all making progress and may return by the end of this month, or August, in the case of Werth. Finally, Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is taking three days of paternity leave, as his wife Mandy just gave birth to their second baby today. Congratulations, Jordan! He is scheduled to pitch on Saturday in Baltimore.
Final All-Star Votes
Mike Moustakas (Royals) and Carlos Martinez (Cardinals) won the (respective) AL and NL Final ALl-Star Vote, raising suspicions about whether it's not just Kansas City but the whole state of Missouri that is rigging the selection process. Just kidding! I thought that Johnny Cueto was in the lead.
Chase Field update
After taking a close look at a graphic image sent to me by Bruce Orser recently, I noticed an apparent anomaly. So, I consulted my D-Backs magazine from last summer, and had a startling realization: The outfield walls and adjoining seating sections form an acute angle with the foul lines, rather than being perpendicular to them, as I had previously thought. Holy cow! That correction had the effect of reducing my estimate of fair territory from 114,900 square feet to 114,200 square feet. And so, after making a few other detail enhancements, I have updated the Chase Field diagrams.
Demolitions, now & then
Yep, it's really gone. All that remains of Candlestick Park is piles of rubble and twisted steel beams. After it's all cleared away, they'll start construction on a new outlet mall. Hopefully, they'll keep track of the exact former location of home plate in the new building, as has been done in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and other cities. See sfchronicle.com
While looking for something else recently, I came across a fine collection of photos of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium being demolished, in 1997, at ajc.com.
And speaking of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, I recently added to that page a photo I took in September 2001 of the former location of the diamond and outfield fence, marked in a parking lot just north of Turner Field. Coincidentally, Zach LaFleur reported (via the Stadium Impressions feature) a broken link to that page, but I'm not sure on what page the broken link is located. The scroll-down menus work, as do the links on the Stadium lists page.
July 17, 2015 [LINK / comment]
American League wins All-Star Game, again
All in all, it was a pretty good All-Star Game in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. The very first batter for the American League, Mike Trout of the L.A. Angels, hit a line drive that just cleared the right-field wall for a home run. In most other ballparks, it would have been just a double. The National League tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the second, but the [American Leaguers] scored twice in the top of the fifth, and stayed ahead, winning 6-3. Andrew McCutcheon (of the Pirates) and Brian Dozier (of the Twins) also had solo homers. And so, the AL pulled off a "three-peat" that [once again] gives them home field advantage in this year's World Series.
For the second year in a row, Mike Trout was named All-Star MVP. No other player had ever been so honored in consecutive years. Trout's runner-up rival in the 2012 Rookie of the Year contest, Bryce Harper, went 0 for 3, including two strikeouts.
Home Run Derby: crowd pleaser
Most people seem to agree that the new rules used in the 2015 Home Run Derby were a big success, creating more competitive tension with a clock and a head-to-head bracket system. Of the eight players, Cincinnati's Todd Frazier and the L.A. Dodgers' Joc Pederson
[Texas Rangers' Prince Fielder*] made it to the final round, and Frazier emerged as the champion. The home crowd was very pleased.
* CORRECTION: Fielder went up against Frazier in the first round, hence the confusion.
Nats take two from O's
On the weekend before the All-Star break, the Nationals faced a big psychological test in Baltimore, and they passed it. After losing to the Orioles, on Friday night, they regrouped and beat the host team twice. On Saturday, Jordan Zimmermann gave up four runs in five innings on the mound, but still ended up with the win, thanks to some clutch RBIs including home runs by Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa. Final score: 7-4. In the first inning on Sunday, Max Scherzer gave up a solo home run to Adam Jones. The Nationals' only runs came in the fifth inning, when Dan Uggla hit an RBI single and Tyler Moore hit a two-run double. Adam Jones hit another solo homer in the ninth inning, forcing Scherzer out of the game, but Drew Storen quickly got the final out, and the save. Final score: 3-2.
So, the Nationals entered the All-Star break in first place, two games ahead of the Mets. Once they get Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth back in the lineup, their path to October should become much smoother.
Too dark to play in D.C.
The Nationals welcomed the L.A. Dodgers to Our Nation's Capital this evening, but the game was suspended after the fifth inning because one bank of lights went out for a third time. After enduring delays totalling over two hours, "No más!" Fortunately, the Nats had just pulled ahead of the Dodgers 3-2, thanks to a two-run homer by Yunel Escobar. The game will resume at 2:05 tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, immediately followed by the scheduled 4:00 game. That seems awkward; will they clear the stands between games?
So whose fault was the blackout? Some say the two concerts by Taylor Swift at Nationals Park during the All-Star break may have overloaded the stadium's electrical system, but that's mere conjecture.
It's barely significant enough to call an "update," but after watching the All-Star Game I did make a few detailed changes to the Great American Ballpark diagrams. I realized that the "moat" behind the eighth row of seats between the dugouts is wider than I thought, and is also very deep, with downward staircases. So I made the appropriate corrections and enhancements (dark shading for stairs) in that general area, as well as the entry portals in the upper deck (wider, with a small staircase on each side), and the bullpens. (The bends in the grandstand are now shown, as well.) The left field upper deck bleachers are about eight feet shorter than before, but otherwise, as far as the grandstand and playing field, almost nothing changed.
July 18, 2015 [LINK / comment]
Incredible shrinking stadiums
A Washington Post article about the Redskins' plans to reduce the seating capacity of FedEx Field once again reminded me that the same thing has been happening at some baseball stadiums recently. And with good reason: In many cases, planners in the 1990s badly overestimated how many fans would attend baseball games. Now, a sense of realism is taking hold. With the renovations to Progressive (ex-Jacobs) Field this year, the seating capacity has declined from 42,487 to 36,856, a net loss of 5,631 seats. (I'm still waiting to see a good photo of exactly what changed.) In addition, the capacity of PETCO Park in San Diego has declined 1,138 since last year, as explained in the note about the diagram update below. Similar things have happened in recent years at Coors Field, Kauffman Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Tropicana Field, U.S. Cellular Field, and Oakland ("o.co") Coliseum, where they simply closed the upper deck and covered it with a gigantic tarp.
Other prospective "shrunken" stadiums, based on urban population and past attendance figures, might included Chase Field and Globe Life Park in Arlington. On the other hand, the capacity New Yankee Stadium was reduced by about 700 to less than 50,000, which is way too small for a city the size of New York.
So, I set about to make a systematic record of all such changes over the past decade. The following table lists stadiums in order of their nominal capacity for 2015. As noted by underlines and italics, some of those figures are misleading.
|Stadium name||2015 capacity||Net change, |
|Yankee Stadium II||49,638||NEW|
|Rogers Centre / Skydome||49,282||-1,316|
|Globe Life Park in Arlington||48,114||-797|
|Oriole Park at Camden Yards||45,971||-2,319|
|Anaheim (Angel) Stadium||45,957||+920|
|Busch Stadium III||45,399||NEW|
|Citizens Bank Park||43,651||-175|
|Great American Ballpark||42,319||+48|
|Minute Maid Park*||41,574||+624|
|U.S. Cellular Field||40,615||0|
|Progressive (Jacobs) Field||36,856||-6,549|
Italics: capacity probably overstated.
Underlined: Potential capacity understated, due to many seating sections being closed.
The mean (average) seating capacity is 42,957, and the median capacity is 41,908.
A good candidate for size reduction would be Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The top 20 rows of the upper deck are seldom used. (June 25, 2014)
PETCO Park update
I was aware of the changes in the left field seats at PETCO Park this year, but it took a long time for me to figure out exactly what changed. From what I can tell, basically they removed a few rows of seats from the front and back of the upper deck in left field, and did likewise to the lower deck out there, while adding two rows of seats in front, reducing the distances slightly. There is also a big new video scoreboard, extending into space formerly occupied by advertising signs, so the diagram doesn't reflect that. (For a full explanation of the changes, see MLB.com.)
And so, I have made all the necessary changes to the PETCO Park diagrams, including a lower-deck version for the first time. As so often happens, that inclusion exposed certain flaws in the main diagram, so I had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how all the pieces fit together. The precise arrangement of the stairs surrounding each of the entry portals in the upper deck is now shown with a darker gray shade. Note that the entry portals are not visible from directly above because of the unusually tall disjuncture between the upper and lower portions of the upper deck. Enjoy!
"On the road" again
That's right, it's time for my annual baseball sojourn! Unlike last year, when I went west and then southwest, this year I'm going north and then west. If all goes according to plan, I'll see the Tampa Bay Rays play in Toronto, the Seattle Mariners play in Detroit, and the St. Louis Cardinals play in Chicago (south side; interleague game). Maybe even another game in Kansas City and/or St. Louis; we might have another all-Missouri World Series this year, like in 1985! I'll see you when I get back, about August 10 or so.
July 18, 2015 [LINK / comment]
Fleetwood Mac in concert!
Jacqueline and I went to the Fleetwood Mac concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville last March, and it fully lived up to our expectations. We were worried because they had postponed two recent appearances because one band member was not well. I was impressed by how energetic the players were, including keyboard-vocalist Christine McVie, who rejoined the group after a multi-year "hiatus." She is not as flamboyant as some of the other members, but her presence added a lot. Of course, Stevie Nicks was the lead vocalist on most songs, and not only did she perform well, she related some personal anecdotes about how she came to join the group back in 1975. It was all because of Lindsey Buckingham, a guitar virtuoso recruited by group leaders John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. He said he wouldn't join without Stevie, and just a few months later, Stevie's vocals on the song "Rhiannon" turned the group into superstars.
As a (very) amateurish guitar player, I have long been a fan of Lindsey Buckingham, whose playing technique is astounding. Somehow he generates a big, loud sound on electric guitar without a pick, simply using his fingernails the pluck strings. I can do a fair imitation of "Never Going Back Again," and I'm trying to learn "Big Love," but it is extremely challenging. When he did those songs, I was simply mesmerized. Buckingham talked about his personal struggles, making it clear that the once-widespread notion that drugs help with the creative process is, as he put it, "bullshit."
John McVie remained very passive throughout the concert, and Mick Fleetwood did one lengthy drum solo, very well of course. At the very end of the concert, he gave a little talk that was almost like a sermon. "Be kind to one another." Since he and the others are getting up in years, this may have been a farewell performance. One song I didn't recognize, so it may be a new one. Here's the set list, from the notepad I brought with me:
- The Chain
- You Make Lovin' Fun
- Second Hand News
- Rhiannon *
- Sister of the Moon
- Say You Love Me
- Big Love *
- Landslide *
- Never Going Back Again *
- Over My Head
- Sweet Little Lies
- Gold Dust Woman *
- I'm So Afraid
- Go Your Own Way *
- World Turning
- Don't Stop *
- Silver Spring
* = video. The three songs after "Go Your Own Way" were the encore.
Fleetwood Mac in concert, playing the song "Over My Head": in the foreground Christine McVie on the keyboards and as lead vocal (see video monitor), John McVie on bass to her left, Lindsey Buckingham on guitar, Mick Fleetwood on drums to his right, and Stevie Nicks as backing vocalist.
John Paul Jones Arena before the concert. Roll your mouse over the image to see the stage.
External view of the main entrance (west) of John Paul Jones Arena before the concert.
Music page update
I updated the Music page with this concert. There is also a partial discography of the studio albums of my six favorite groups: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and Kansas.
July 18, 2015 [LINK / comment]
Summer birding doldrums
As I prepare to hit the road on my big summer road trip for this year, I thought I should write a few lines about recent birding and outdoor experiences. I have continued to get in shape by hiking this month, but now that breeding season is nearing an end, not as many birds are singing.
Earlier this month, Allen Larner reported seeing a group of Ruddy Ducks, with males in full breeding plumage, on Lake Shenandoah in Rockingham County. So, I drove up there and did see the birds in question, but they were too far away for a good photo. I returned on July 14, but they were already gone. I did see a Green Heron there, however, as well as a young Great Blue Heron at Leonard's Pond on the way back home.
Then on Thursday, I took a short hike south from the Humpback Rocks area, in search of breeding Cerulean Warblers. That species is in decline, and that part of the Blue Ridge is known as a habitaul breeding ground for them. I heard and saw quite a few birds, including Indigo Buntings, Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Wood Pewees, Pileated Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue-headed Vireos, and Red-eyed Vireos. Finally, as I was heading back to the parking lot, I heard the distinctive buzzing song of the Cerulean Warbler. I may have caught a glimpse, but couldn't be sure. It was still very rewarding to identify its presence.
Indigo Bunting (male), at the Humpback Rocks parking lot, July 16.