It was another beautiful, early spring day that started out bright and sunny, but ended up rather cloudy. I decided to do a Shenandoah Valley grand tour of many of the birding spots that I often visit, and ended the trip with 41 avian species.
Great Blue Herons
Great Blue Heron
I then stopped at the rear of the Day's Inn on the north side of Staunton to see if the Clay-colored Sparrow might still be there. I didn't locate it, but added three more species to the trip list. My next stop was near Mt. Crawford to see if there might still be a Snowy Owl there, but only saw a few common birds and a nice Red-tailed Hawk.
I still wanted to see and photograph a Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage, so I went to Lake Shenandoah. There were Mallards and American Coots near the dock, and I could see a Pied-billed Grebe and some other water birds near the dam. I got my exercise and hiked the entire perimeter of the lake.
As I approached the dam, I saw four female Red-breasted Mergansers, two Ruddy Ducks with a pair of sleeping grebes, and one Red-necked Grebe that was swimming. The Red-necked Grebe had partial breeding plumage.
Female Red-breasted Mergansers
Ruddy Duck and grebes
The hike around the lake paid off. As I got back to my car in the parking lot, I saw a Horned Grebe near the dock that was in partial breeding plumage. I hadn't seen this bird when I started my hike around the lake.
I was close to Lake Campbell, so I made a quick stop there and view the lake from the small parking lot just off the road. In addition to the resident Mute Swans and lots of Canada Geese, there were a good number of ducks: Red-breasted Merganser, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, Gadwall, and Ring-necked.
Ducks at Lake Campbell
The next stop was at Leonard's Pond where I only saw a couple of Green-winged Teals and some Canada Geese. From there, I continued south to the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport. On the west side road I saw a few Killdeers and a few other common species, but it was the east side road that was the best. There was a sub-adult male, Gray Ghost Northern Harrier, a boldly colored Red-tailed Hawk, and a brightly colored male American Kestrel.
My last stop of the grand tour was along Strickley Road near New Hope to see if there were any Horned Larks, and I saw a couple of them that had pale coloring.
Today's bird list:
Great Blue Heron