Birding in August: hot, as usual
Some bird species begin to migrate during August, and others (especially tall wading birds) scatter into the interior of the U.S. And then there are birds such as the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which we rarely see until August. (From what I can tell, they apparently breed in woodland areas away from densely populated areas.) This year one showed up on July 31, and we had them out back virtually every day from then until the end of September. The one in this photo clearly shows reddish streaks on its throat, indicating it is a young male:
On August 9, I drove up to Pocosin Cabin in the Shenandoah National Park, one of our favorite birding "hot spots" in the Shenandoah National Park. (I had intended to stop there while driving along Skyline Drive on my way back from Washington on June 17, but ran out of time.) I did see a nice variety of warblers, and other special birds such as a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Canada Warbler, but didn't have as much luck getting good photos.
Ten days later (August 19), I took some time off from preparing to teach fall classes and went hiking at Braley Pond in western Augusta County. Before I had even left home, however, I saw a young Cooper's Hawk out back, and managed to get a quick photo of it. Upon reaching the forested foothills out west, I stopped at the crossroads near Elkhorn Lake, which often abounds with warblers, etc., but not that day. I glimpsed some American Redstarts and an E. Towhee, and that was about it. While driving back south I spotted a pair of Wild Turkeys on the road up ahead. At Braley Pond I saw a fair number of birds, but nothing spectacular until I was about to leave. That is when a Northern Parula (probably a juvenile based on its messy-looking feathers) appeared in a nearby bush, and posed just long enough for me to get a good photo. Even better, I then spotted a well-camouflaged Brown Creeper on the side of a tree. That species is a rare breeder in Augusta County, and is not generally seen in lowland areas until the colder months. That was a huge find!
Two days later I went to Augusta Springs, but it was pretty quiet for the most part. The only birds of special note were a Scarlet Tanager (female or juvenile) and a Green Heron. (I should mention that on the 5th, 14th, and 24th days of the month I made visits to Bell's Lane, but didn't see any noteworthy or unusual birds.)
On August 28, in conjunction with a visit to the Blue Ridge Community College campus, I stopped at Leonard's Pond, located about five miles to the northeast. That's a hit-or-miss birding hot spot, and it so happened that I got lucky that day (which was indeed hot!), with six different sandpiper and plover species! Getting great views of a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Pectoral Sandpiper was especially gratifying.
To close out the month, I drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway on August 30, but pretty much struck out in the warbler department. Near the big communications tower, there were a few Ruby-throated Hummingbirds contesting flowery bushes. At Raven's Roost overlook, I saw some Common Ravens squawking and performing aerial displays, as well as a Red-tailed Hawk and a Broad-winged Hawk. At other locations I also saw several E. Wood Pewees, American Goldfinches, a Red-eyed Vireo, and a Worm-eating Warbler.
Individual photos of some of the birds in the above montages can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological page.