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July 3, 2016 [LINK / comment]
Kentucky Warblers, and more!
For the third time in the past two weeks, I went to the Hightop Mountain parking area in the Shenandoah National Park yesterday, in hopes of seeing and photographing a Kentucky Warbler. I did in fact see that bird on my previous two visits, but my efforts were frustrated by bad weather (June 23) and a dying camera battery (June 30). The site is located where the Appalachian Trail intersects Skyline Drive, about one mile south of the Route 33 intersection.
Kentucky Warbler, July 2.
Just like the first two times, I heard a Kentucky Warbler almost as soon as I stepped out of the car, and soon spotted one. Before long it became clear that there were at least three males singing in adjacent territorial units nearby. I witnessed a brief fight between two of them, in fact. I played their songs and calls on my iPod Touch to lure them into camera range, but it was difficult getting a good view in the thick vegetation. After getting a few photos, I started walking northbound on the Appalachian Trail, curious about how far from the road Kentucky Warblers might be found. The only ones that I identified were within 50 yards of Skyline Drive. That may reflect their particular habitat requirements (semi-open wooded areas near streams), or it may reflect that species' apparent tendency to breed in loose colonies, clustered in particular areas rather than spread out. That is just a conjecture on my part.
The trail gradually ascended, and I encountered a variety of birds along the way. The biggest surprises were the Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female) and Cerulean Warbler (male); I probably heard at least two of the latter singing at different places. I was able to lure one down from the tree tops, but he still stayed at least 20 feet above the ground, hence the poor quality of the photo. Cerulean Warblers are notoriously difficult to photograph, more easily heard than seen. After a few hundred yards, at a point where I saw my only Scarlet Tanager of the day, I turned back. I saw at least a dozen hikers during my approximate two-hour stay, most of whom were polite and deferential once they saw I was trying to take photos. Some of them asked what I was looking at, and I was happy to explain. It was toward the end of my visit that I got the best camera views of the Kentucky Warbler; it is a shy and elusive species.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: Kentucky Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Cerulean Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Wood Pewee, Hooded Warbler.
I posted five different Kentucky Warbler photos on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page, as well as separate photos of the other birds in that montage. Some are better quality than others, but each one shows a particular field mark, such as the slight crest that is sometimes raised. I can't think of any other warblers that have such a crest. I was pleased to get my best-ever photo of a Blue-headed Vireo. Other birds seen there yesterday include Eastern Towhee, Hairy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmice, and Red-eyed Vireo.
Kentucky Warblers are listed as "Uncommon" in the Augusta County bird checklist, which is based on Birds of Augusta County, edited by the late YuLee Larner. I would be inclined to classify it as "Rare," however. William Leigh and Jonathan Todd saw and heard a Kentucky Warbler at Hightop parking lot on June 12, which in fact is what prompted my visits there. (Thanks, guys!) Greg Moyers and Barbara Andes reported a Kentucky Warbler at Slate Lick Fields in Rockingham County on May 30. (I have yet to visit that location.) Otherwise, Kentucky Warblers seem to be a rarity in this part of Virginia. The last two times I saw one were in September 17, 2015 (on Shenandoah Mountain south of the Confederate Breastworks) and May 2014 (by the Falls Hollow trail head near Elliott's Knob), and before that it must have been several years.
Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 03 Jul 2016, 10: 41 PM
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Hits on this page (single blog post) since July 2, 2007:
Culture & Travel
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This (or that) year's
January 10, 2016 ~ Cooperstown calls Griffey, Piazza
January 17, 2016 ~ ABC field trip to Highland (& Bath!) County
January 21, 2016 ~ R.I.P. Glenn Frey
January 26, 2016 ~ Sweet Briar College is saved!
January 31, 2016 ~ Presidential campaign begins
February 6, 2016 ~ Fall bird migration season 2015
February 20, 2016 ~ Life bird: Virginia Rail!
February 21, 2016 ~ 2016 primaries: populists propel polarization
March 10, 2016 ~ Yes, another Wrigley Field update!
March 26, 2016 ~ Trump triumphs, Republican Party implodes
April 4, 2016 ~ Opening Day(s) in America, 2016! (& Sportsman's Park update)
April 18, 2016 ~ R.I.P. Alan L. Clem
April 21, 2016 ~ Flying out to So. Dak. (& back)
April 30, 2016 ~ Trump & Clinton take commanding leads
April 30, 2016 ~ Migration season reaches peak
May 7, 2016 ~ Trump secures victory; Sanders fights on
May 21, 2016 ~ ABC field trip to Reddish Knob
June 7, 2016 ~ ABC field trip to Highland County
June 9, 2016 ~ FOD [first-of-decade] Prothonotary Warblers!
June 14, 2016 ~ Birding on Hite Hollow Road
June 16, 2016 ~ Holy $#!+ -- Nationals win big showdown with Cubs
July 1, 2016 ~ Nationals sweep the Mets, widen NL East lead
July 3, 2016 ~ Kentucky Warblers, and more!
July 8, 2016 ~ Soras breeding in the Valley!
July 13, 2016 ~ Redistricting reform movement is growing
July 16, 2016 ~ The Nationals' starting rotation
August 5, 2016 ~ New page: Stadium profiles!
August 7, 2016 ~ Magical mushroom tour*
September 7, 2016 ~ To the northeast: Baseball road trip, 2016
September 18, 2016 ~ East by Northeast: Big city scenery travelogue
September 25, 2016 ~ Nationals win National League East Division
September 27, 2016 ~ Lucky! 13 warblers on Betsy Bell Hill
October 2, 2016 ~ Nationals' regular season ends on a high note
October 5, 2016 ~ Shenandoah National Park birding (II)
October 14, 2016 ~ Nationals flinch, Dodgers advance to NLCS
October 14, 2016 ~ Shenandoah National Park getaway
October 16, 2016 ~ World War II aircraft show (II)
October 25, 2016 ~ Holy cow: Cubs beat Dodgers, win NL pennant!
November 3, 2016 ~ The Cubs win the World Series!!!
November 4, 2016 ~ New month arrives, & new birds too
November 6, 2016 ~ Campaign 2016 grinds to a nasty, ugly end
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:
- Wild birds (LAST)
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- Canaries ("Home birds")
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Also see: My blog practices.
Blog errata (Nobody's perfect.)