Walt Childs and I had planned on going to Highland County today, but the threat of thunderstorms there prompted us to stay closer to our homes. We decided to go to Swoope in the Shenandoah Valley. We saw two male Bobolinks when we there on June 14, and there were reports of Dickcissels near where we had seen the Bobolinks. Both of these species are rare in the mountains and valleys of Virginia, and were our primary target species for this outing.
We entered Swoope on Hewitt Road, and saw quite a few avian species as we drove down to Cattleman Road. There were lots of Swallows: Northern Rough-winged, Tree, Barn, and Cliff Swallows (rare this far south). Many of the swallows were juveniles. Adult Barn Swallows were bringing food to patiently waiting juveniles. The weak breast band on juvenile Tree Swallows was easy to see.
Juvenile and Adult Barn Swallows
Juvenile Tree Swallow
Our first stop was at Smith Lake (on private property where we have permission to enter). We saw quite a few interesting species there. A Bald Eagle, that was perched on a tree branch over the lake, flew as we got there.
Adult and juvenile Wood Ducks
Juvenile Great Blue Heron
We saw two young Belted Kingfishers, and an adult was bringing them food.
We saw two Blue Grosbeaks. One was clearly a juvenile. The other one was either a juvenile or a young adult female.
We saw a Willow Flycatcher there, and another one along Cattleman Road. We also saw at least two Red-tailed Hawks.
As we drove around Swoope, we saw quite a few Eastern Kingbirds and several sparrow species.
There were lots and lots of Red-winged Blackbirds. Females have rufous-edged covert feathers, but sometimes this feature can be very bright rufous.
Female Red-winged Blackbird
Female and male Red-winged Blackbirds
We saw a male Bobolink in the same area on North Mountain Road where we saw two of them last month.
And then we thought we saw a juvenile Dickcissel. But it was a female Bobolink.
We ended the outing with another flycatcher that looks to me to be a Least Flycatcher, our 48th avian species of the day.