Rockfish Valley Trail 9/19/12

All photos are Marshall Faintich

After the incredible birds I have seen on the trail the past couple of weeks, having a normal day of seeing only 35 species seemed to be a bit meager today. After yesterday's heavy rain, we didn't know if the birds seen on Monday would still be there, or if the strong northerly winds would have brought in a new crop of birds.

Walt Childs and I arrived at the trail a little after 8:30 a.m., and we met four other birders who visited the trail after reading my posts. After speaking with the other birders, about 50 species were seen on the trail today, including the Olive-sided Flycatcher, a Merlin, a Screech Owl, and juvenile and adult Red-headed Woodpeckers. Walt and I saw five warbler species: Tennessee, Magnolia, Wilson's, Palm, and Common Yellowthroat, but the highlight of the morning was a kettle of 60+ Broad-winged Hawks over the trail. The September total number of species seen on the trail is now at least 80.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Tennessee Warbler

Palm Warbler

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Red-eyed Vireo

Low flying Broad-winged Hawk

A portion of the Broad-winged Hawk kettle

Close-up shot of two of the kettle hawks

After lunch we went up to the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, but it was fairly quiet for a day with northerly winds. The highlight while we were there was seeing four Bald Eagles in the sky at one time, with three of them visible in the same binocular field of view. We then headed down the first 14 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but road and overlook construction is so bad that we didn't see or hear much: Turkey Vulture, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Towhee, probable Worm-eating Warbler, and a flock of American Goldfinches undergoing severe molting into their winter plumage.

American Goldfinch

Perhaps today's winds will usher in some interesting birds overnight, and Walt and I are heading back to the trail in the morning.

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