A beautiful morning here in central Virginia. I had e-mailed Vic Laubach for directions to the location where he and Allen Larner had seen a Barred Owl on Coal Rd. two days ago in the Big Levels WMA of the George Washington National Forest in the Shenandoah Valley. By the time I got there at 9:30, there was very little avian activity. After searching for 45 minutes, I decided to look for the Lark Sparrow and what else I might find in Stuart's Draft. When I arrived at the pond on Brenneman's Lane where the Lark Sparrow has been for several months, all I saw was a Red-winged Blackbird and a Field Sparrow. And then another sparrow popped up for a few photos. At first I thought it might be a juvenile Lark Sparrow, but after post-processing and closer inspection, I am fairly sure that it was a Vesper Sparrow. Even the rarely visible rufous lesser coverts can be seen.
As I was heading back to my car, a medium-sized grayish bird flew out of the tall vegetation and away from me. I couldn't tell what it was, but it looks from the photos like it might have been a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Once again, avian activity where I was in the Shenandoah Valley was fairly sparse. I decided to drive back home via the Blue Ridge Parkway to check out my favorite warbler hot spots. The warm winter and spring has the tree leaf growth about three weeks ahead of where it normally is. At the Humpback Rocks visitor center I saw Chipping Sparrow, Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Towhee, Carolina Wren, and Dark-eyed Junco. At higher elevations I heard a couple of Eastern Phoebes. I wonder if the migrating warblers will be here earlier than usual as well?