The Virginia Environmental Assembly met up on Wintergreen Mountain this weekend, and as birding activity manager for the Rockfish Valley Trail, I arranged a guided bird walk for the VEA on the trail, and also invited the general public. We had about 25 birders, and I also invited four guest guides: Mary Elfner, the Audubon Society's Virginia Important Bird Area Coordinator; Walt Childs, past-president of the Augusta Bird Club; Allen Hale, Nelson County Supervisor and owner of Buteo Books; and Tim Hodge, our local bird guru. Before we split up into four groups, introductions were made, and Mary announced that my petition to include the Rockfish Valley Trail into the Central Piedmont Important Bird Area had been approved.
The weather was heavily overcast and there was some fog hanging around the mountains making birding less than ideal, but the combined list from the four groups totaled 50 species on the trail. Some of the highlights were Broad-winged Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, juvenile Bald Eagle, Magnolia Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Balitmore Oriole, and Green Heron.
The heavy overcast required high ISO with resulting grainy photos. One of the Red-tailed Hawks had unusually bright white bars on its back.
I headed up to the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch in the afternoon, but the heavy overcast skies yielded only a few raptors, and the only one that came close was a Red-tailed Hawk.