We've had lots of rain here in central Virginia this past spring and summer. We're already (year-to-date) 10+ inches of rain more than average for this year, and that's not counting the 10 to 30 inches of rain that we might get during the next few days as a result of Hurricane Florence.
It was raining all night, but the radar showed a good break in the rain around 9:30 in the morning, so I headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway was shrouded in light fog, but that wasn't much of a problem. However, there was a constant, misty drizzle that was too weak to show on the weather radar, but enough to kill the birding up there. I drove down the mountain to Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro, but there was drizzle there as well, so I headed back to home. That evening, I reading postings about some good shorebirds on the polo field at the nearby King Family Vineyards. I had thought about going there on the way to the parkway or on my return, but didn't. Drats!
Same overnight rain and clearing radar as yesterday. This time, I decided to stop at King Family Vineyards on the way to the parkway. The rarer shorebirds had gone. All I saw were Canada Geese, a couple of Killdeers, three Wood Ducks, and two Blue-winged Teals.
There was light fog on the parkway again, and when I got up there, there was light drizzle just as there was yesterday. I proceeded on, and turned onto Route 610, hoping that the dense tree cover there might shield me from the drizzle. I hadn't gotten very far when I encountered a good sized tree that was down and completely blocking the road. My cell phone wasn't getting enough of a signal to make a call, so I turned around, got back onto the parkway, and stopped at the Humpback Rocks visitor center to use their phone to call VDOT and report the downed tree. VDOT said that they would send someone out. I continued on the parkway, and only saw a few American Godfinches and one Red-eyed Vireo.
I decided to continue to Reids Gap at mm. 14, and take Route 664 down to the Rockfish Valley Trail, but it was raining even heavier by the time I got to the trail.
There was so much fog at higher elevations that I couldn't even see the mountains from Old Trail here in Crozet. But there didn't appear to be any drizzle, and the fog at lower elevations wasn't very bad, so I drove over to Lickinghole Creek and Reservoir here in Crozet. The trail along the creek and resevoir was very wet and muddy. I must have walked into 30 spider webs that had been spun across the path, and finally broke some of them with a stick as I hiked. I really didn't like getting spider web in my face, but the time when the web caught the bill of my visor with the spider still on it, and even worse, another time when a web got stuck to my glasses with an attached spider, weren't my favorite moments of this hike. Most of these spiders were Arrowhead Spiders.
I did end up with 27 avian species at Lickinghole. The vegetation was so dense that it was hard to see the reservoir, but I did see a few good birds at the reservoir. Most of the birds tried to hide behind branches when I tried to get photos of them.
Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, and Canada Geese
Great Egret and Canada Goose
Female American Redstart
Immature male Northern Cardinal
I did see and hear a flycatcher that I am fairly sure was an Alder, but I sometimes have difficulty distinguishing their song with that of a Willow Flycatcher. I was able to get a sort recording of it song. Click here to hear the recording.
I saw another spider that appeared to be in the process of wrapping prey - a Two-lined Spittlebug.
Spider wrapping Two-lined Spittlebug
Spider wrapping Two-lined Spittlebug
I then tried the Blue Ridge Parkway and Rockfish Valley Trail again, but saw very few birds at either place.
Lickinghole avian list:
Great Blue Heron