September 16, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Wild life at Augusta Springs

Having failed to uncover any significant migratory birds at Montgomery Hall Park yesterday, I was determined not to let this spectacularly beautiful weekend go to waste. So, I drove out to the Augusta Springs wetland area this morning, and after a slow start, hit "pay dirt" in terms of birds and other wild life. Altogether I saw seven warbler species, which is not bad, but it took a lot of effort -- and even some risk.

Not much was happening along the boardwalk trail, but in the bushes next to the spring I got close enough to some warblers to get some good video shots. (See below.) Then I headed toward the upland trail, and was soon stunned to see a Barred owl, only the second one I have ever seen in the wild. (Jacqueline and I saw one in Charlottesville about ten years ago.) Then the trail began a steep climb, and up ahead I saw some kind of animal on the trail ahead, and realized that it was a coyote, the first one I have ever seen on a mountain trail! (No Roadrunners, though. ) I tried to take some video, but the coyote was camera shy and walked away. After making loud noises and arming myself with a large stick just in case, I resumed walking, proceeding with great care. Fortunately, my risk-taking paid off, as I came upon a nice cluster of warblers and other migratory birds, including the first Gray-cheeked thrush I've seen this year, at the high point where two trails intersect. The return leg was relatively uneventful, but I did see a few mushrooms in the muddy soil. (Photo below.) Back at the boardwalk trail, I saw a few more warblers and then called it a day.

Black-throated Green Warbler

ABOVE: Black-throated green warbler: side view ~ front view ~ ~ Magnolia warbler
(Roll over to choose.) All three of these images are of female or juvenile birds.

Augusta Springs

ABOVE: Augusta Springs: once a summer resort, and now a nature preserve.

Clubfooted Clitocybe

ABOVE: Clubfooted Clitocybe mushroom.