Today was a birding day for me. I started off with an hour hike here in Stoney Creek. I went looking for migrating waterfowl, but the only waterfoul I saw were a few Canada Geese. There were some White-throated Sparrows, Blue Jays, American Crows, Northern Cardinals, and Dary-eyed Juncos. I heard a Pileated Woodpecker, saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and heard a third woodpecker species drumming on a tee - probably a Downy as the drumming was too fast for a Pileated and too rapid and repetitive for a Red-bellied. In the Allen Creek Nature Preserve, a Song Sparrow went looking for its lost golfball.
As I headed toward home, I stopped along the north end of the small pine forest. There was a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a few Eastern Bluebirds, and an uncommon Red-breasted Nuthatch. A Black-capped Chickadee made a brief appearance, but I don't think that it was the same one that I have been seeing there. A squirrel tried to hide from my camera, but was unsuccessful.
When I arrived home, there was a small deer in the woods nearby. He didn't seem to be afraid of me. A Red-shouldered hawk landed high up in a nearby tree, and was having an early lunch. Soon a second Red-shouldered Hawk landed in the same tree, and then flew to the same branch and perched next to the first one, but there was no food sharing this day, so the second one let out a squawk and flew away.
Armed with my new in-car navigation system, coordinates from the VA Birding and Wildlife Trail Google-earth data set, and having an evening Virginia Wildlife Management Area meeting in Verona, VA in the Shenandoah Valley, I ventured out late in the afternoon to find two Shenandoah Valley birding sites that I had read about.
On the way there, I stopped at Stuarts Draft to see if the Rough-legged Hawk might be along Hall School Road where I saw it last year, or if there were any other interesting birds in the area. All I saw was a quick glance of a Kestrel along route 340 and some Canada Geese on the two ponds farther down Shalom Road. (Heston Farm Ponds).
I then headed off to find the two new sites for me: Leonard's Pond and Lake Shenandoah. When I arrived at Leonard's Pond, it was much smaller that I had imagined. There were about 20 Canada Geese in the pond, some Starlings and one Red-winged Blackbird in a nearby tree, and a few sparrows in the brush along the roadside. I then spotted a Red-tailed Hawk off in a distant tree, and then it decided to do a fly-over and I got some good photos of it.
Once the hawk had left the area, a flock of 10 Killdeer arrived at the pond, and I watched them bathe in the edge of the pond. With 10 Killdeer there, I had lots of photo ops, and this species is one of my favorites.
I then headed off to Lake Shenandoah where I was greeted by 6 American Coots on the bank by the fishing dock. As I walked down a small path, I photographed a pair of ducks that I could not identify at first. My best guess is that they are Mallard variations, as I saw another pair of Mallards when I walked back to the car - one a normal looking male and the other a black and white variation.
Flying above the lake were a few Tree Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow