April 22, 2009 [LINK / comment]

More migrants are arriving

I've been driving all over Virginia during the last few days, it seems, and I have managed to stop and look for birds several times. The following report is in reverse chronological order:

At Lake Shenandoah east of Harrisonburg this afternoon, I saw the Common Loon that has been reported in recent weeks. It was in breeding plumage (mostly black), but too far away to see details. I haven't seen one of those in years. Also on the lake were a Pied-bill grebe, some Canada geese, and ducks of some sort. I also saw my first Yellow warbler of the season, a female just a few feet away. Ruby-crowned kinglets (including a male showing his red crown) and Yellow-rumped warblers also came very close to me while I was standing on the lake shore.

This morning in the town of Piney Grove in Nelson County, at the trail head where the railroad used to pass through, I heard and soon saw my first Prairie warbler of the season. They are very attractive, but rather uncommon on this side of the Blue Ridge. I also saw a Phoebe at the same place.

In the Blue Ridge just east of Buchanan on Tuesday, I saw a Black-throated green warbler for the first time this year, as well as a Phoebe. I also heard a Red-eyed vireo and a Redstart (or possibly a Black and white warbler) off in the distance. About time! In the afternoon east of Weyer's Cave, I saw an Osprey flying majestically overhead, likewise the first of the season.

After church on Sunday, while enjoying coffee and cookies, I heard the familiar chittering of Chimney swifts up above, and soon spotted a large number of them swirling around -- at least 20, I'd say. Yet another first-of-season observation.

I've been back to the trail behind the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad ("SARS") a couple times in the past few days, but to my surprise, no spring/summer warblers were there. The following list of highlights is pretty much the same as before:

Out back, Chipping sparrows are becoming ever more abundant: I counted ten of them at one point this afternoon! Meanwhile, the Pine siskins are less numerous than before, and perhaps some of them have already headed north.


The male Goldfinches have almost completed their molt into breeding plumage. Roll over this image to see the same bird with indirect lighting, and click on it to see what they looked like just seven weeks ago.