September 20, 2016
Whenever I hear about a sighting of a bird that I have never seen before, I tend to react in a Pavlovian fashion. So today I drove up to Rockingham County in search of some American Golden Plovers that were reported at the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction, located a few miles northwest of Bridgewater. I arrived there just as the auction was about to get underway, and was obliged to explain my presence, since I obviously wasn't in the market for pumpkins or other fresh vegetables. The local people were very friendly to me, and showed keen interest in the bird I was looking for. I did spot some Killdeers and Eurasian Collared Doves, as well as Mallards and Canada Geese in a nearby pond, but not the target species. So after an hour or so, I departed. About a half mile from the auction site, I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree.
My next destination was Hillandale Park, on the west side of Harrisonburg, where many migrating warblers have been reported lately. (My first visit there was back in May.) After walking along the trails for a while, I saw White-eyed Vireo in some thickets only about 25 feet away. The only warblers I saw, however, were American Redstarts and Ovenbirds. As I returned to the parking area, two birders arrived, and I quickly recognized them as Marshall Faintich and Walt Childs. They knew the better locations for birds, and it didn't take long before we were seeing lots of warblers and other neotropical migrants. I saw (or at least glimpsed) a total of eight (8) warbler species. Here are the [more notable] species I saw at Hillandale Park today, in rough chronological order:
Enlarged images of some birds in that montage, and a few others, can be see on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.
There were many Robins in the woods at Hillandale Park, including some juveniles, and I saw a Thrush whose species I could not identify. [I glimpsed the brown streaks on the pale breast.] Based on the eye ring and overall dull brown color, I figure it is probably a Swainson's Thrush:
After the three of us had had enough, we said goodbye, and I returned to the auction site, hoping for better luck the next time. Not! I did enjoy a tasty cheeseburger with locally-grown lettuce and tomatoes, however.
On the way back, I stopped at Leonard's Pond, but all that was there was a couple Killdeers and a dozen or so Canada Geese. Then I decided to check out Target Pond in Stuarts Draft, where a Sanderling was seen yesterday. Once again, I struck out as far as the target species, but I did get some nice views of three Least Sandpipers.