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June 19, 2012 [LINK / comment]

Shenandoah Mountain hike

Just like two years ago, "In need of exercise and wanting to get as many migratory bird observations as possible before breeding season ends, I went for a hike on Shenandoah Mountain on Sunday." Unlike that time, I started from the bottom at Ramsey's Draft in the George Washington National Forest and climbed to the crest, a net altitude gain of about 750 feet. If my records are correct, it's the first time I went all the way on that trail since August 2007. (Jacqueline and I went half way up in April 2008.) I started at 10:00 AM from the parking lot at Ramsey's Draft, climbed to the crest and then went back, a total of five miles round trip. I saw seven mountain bikers along the way, in two groups, and I only heard two other hikers at a distance, but didn't see them. It was 2:30 PM when I got back to my car, with my feet aching.

Overall, bird activity was a bit less than I would have expected. There were two memorable moments: the first was seeing a pair (M-F) of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, at the summit. That is pretty clear evidence of breeding. (It was the Augusta County side.) Then, about half-way back down the mountain I noticed a medium-large bird in the tree-tops, and soon coaxed into clear view with my famous hand-whistle. From the bill color and dull (not reddish) brown wing shoulders, it didn't take long to determine that it was a Black-billed Cuckoo, which is a true rarity. Altogether I heard or saw 34 species; here are the highlights from the report which I submitted to

* I got good, closeup looks at one family of Black-capped Chickadees, and heard a few others along the way. "(H)" = heard, not seen.

I was glad to see a Parula foraging in the top of a tall tree by the river at the very end of my hike. I was disappointed not to see any Black-throated Green Warblers, and not to hear or see any Blackburnian Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, or Redstarts. They are all supposed to be common species in that area, but they are probably all trying to raise their recently-fledged young as quietly as possible, to avoid detection by predators. I took several nature photos, but there weren't as many mushrooms as I have seen there in the past.

Road Hollow trail montage

Road Hollow trail montage, showing a bend in the trail at a ravine. Insets from top left, clockwise: Indian Pipes, Clavulina Cristata, Silver-spotted Skipper, ? wildflower, ? mushroom (identification pending...) Roll mouse over the image to see the mountain stream known as Ramsey's Draft.

NOTE: Shenandoah Mountain is not aptly named, as it is not near Shenandoah National Park. It is near the source of the North River, which is a tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 19 Jun 2012, 9: 50 PM

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Blog highlights have been compiled for the years 2010-2012 thus far, and eventually will be compiled for earlier years, back to 2002.


The "home made" blog organization system that I created was instituted on November 1, 2004, followed by several functional enhancements in subsequent years. I make no more than one blog post per day on any one category, so some posts may cover multiple news items or issues. Blog posts appear in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the chronological order in which the posts were originally made:

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