August 18, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Hiking around Ramsey's Draft

The mild temperatures today were a relief from the heat wave we've had for most of the past several weeks, providing the perfect opportunity for a long-overdue major hike. I started from Ramsey's Draft (which was almost totally dry!) and climbed to the crest of Shenandoah Mountain, a net altitude gain of about 750 feet, into a different climatic zone. Seeing a Junco was not unexpected at 3,000 feet altitude, but I was quite surprised to see a group of Red-breasted nuthatches, the first I have seen in years. Both of those species are only present in the lowland areas of Virginia during winter months. Other birds included five warbler species, but no Blackburnian warblers or Redstarts, which I would have expected in that location. Perhaps it is because of the ongoing blight that is killing many of the Hemlock trees upon which the Blackburnians thrive. Today's highlights:

View west from Shen Mtn

View toward the west from the crest of Shenandoah Mountain, a mile or so north of the Confederate Breastworks. Roll mouse over this image to see a zoom-in view.

Ramseys Draft

Ramsey's Draft, in one of the only places where I found water. Under normal rainfall conditions, this is a swiftly-running stream. I took this photo at the end of my hike.