July 3, 2023
NOTE: This blog post was uploaded prematurely on Monday, and major corrections have been made to it, including three additional photos montages.
April 1, Montgomery Hall Park: While at a church clean-up early in the afternoon, I was surprised to see a Bald Eagle flying over central Staunton. Later I went for a walk at Montgomery Hall Park and had a nice sunlit view of a Tufted Titmouse, but there wasn't much else until the very end, when I heard and then saw my first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher of the season!
April 8, Chimney Hollow: I led a field trip for the Augusta Bird Club in the morning (very chilly), and I saw two birds for the first time this year: Louisiana Waterthrushes (we saw or heard five total) and Blue-headed Vireo (surprisingly, just one). We also had brief views of Winter Wrens, both singing males, but they were too shy to pose for my camera. Two White-breasted Nuthatches were setting up a household in a tall tree, while an Eastern Towhee kept singing and singing at the Braley Pond dam. There were lots of fishermen but few birds there. All in all, a very good (if) day! Just as I returned home an Osprey made a surprise flyover, my first one of the year!
April 10, Bell's Lane: There were some bright primary colors in the sunshine along Bell's Lane late this afternoon (including some American Goldfinches in transitional molting), but the real highlight was when I spotted two Brown Thrashers scurrying about in the bushes. They were my very first ones of the year, but were NOT eager to have their pictures taken!
April 12, Betsy Bell Hill: I was hoping for some early warblers or something similar in the afternoon (very warm!), but had to content myself with a nice closeup view of a female Pileated Woodpecker, along with glimpses of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a White-breasted Nuthatch. Over at Bell's Lane, I was surprised to hear and then see a Pine Warbler foraging in a big oak tree near the kiosk. Further on was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.
April 16, Turk Mountain: Jacqueline and I hiked to the top of the mountain in the Shenandoah National Park. We more than met our exercise goals, but the bird sightings were a bit below expectations. At least I did see my first Black and White Warbler of the season -- three of them in fact! I also had brief looks at a Pine Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Finally, I heard a few Blue-headed Vireos, a probable Hooded Warbler, and a Common Raven.
April 21, Bell's Lane: I substituted for Penny Warren in leading a bird walk (field trip), and we had a great turnout, both in terms of participants and birds! We heard several Gray Catbirds at various places, but they were very shy and I didn't get a photo of one until near the end of our walk. It was the first of the year for many of us, including me. We also heard a Great Crested Flycatcher, but never saw it. The only warbler species was a Yellow-rumped "butter butt," but there were several Ruby-crowned Kinglets, with males displaying their crowns and/or singing. A singing Eastern Towhee was remarkably tame as we walked past to get a better closeup view. Pairs of Eastern Bluebirds and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were at nest holes, getting ready to raise young ones. American Goldfinches, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Phoebes, a Red-tailed Hawk, and finally a Blue-winged Teal rounded out a very rewarding morning of birding. Thanks to all who came!
April 23, Road Hollow Trail: When Jacqueline and I went hiking up the mountain from Ramsey's Draft early this afternoon, the main objective was getting exercise, so I was a bit constrained in terms of seeing and photographing birds. Nevertheless, I finally managed to get good views of Black-throated Green Warblers, my first one(s) this year. We must have heard at least six or seven of them! Other highlights included Blue-headed Vireos, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and nesting pairs of Eastern Phoebes at both kiosks. Finally, we heard a few Pine Warblers and Black & White Warblers, and saw some American Goldfinches, Chipping Sparrows, and a Hairy Woodpecker. I was also pleased to meet fellow birder Darlene Coleman in person for the first time, just as we were leaving.
April 29, Humpback Rocks picnic area: Jacqueline and I went hiking in the afternoon, and not surprisingly, there were lots of warblers and other neotropical migrants. I saw SEVEN first-of-year species, as shown in this photo montage: Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, American Redstart, Scarlet Tanager, Cerulean Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo. I also heard my first Wood Thrushes of the year! The highlight of the day came at the farthest point along the trail, where we turned back: a pair of Blue-headed Vireos making a nest!
As usual, the above photo montages, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.