July 19, 2023
June 1, Blue Ridge & Charlottesville: It was a beautiful day to be outside, so as Jacqueline and I were driving toward Charlottesville today, I casually suggested that we might want to stop to take in the scenery at the Afton Mountain overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thanks to Bonnie Hughes, I was aware that a Yellow-breasted Chat had been seen there, in the same place where I have observed it (or one of its relatives) over the past two years. To my surprise, that gorgeous bird popped into view right after I played a catbird song on my iPhone -- only 15 or so feet away, and my first one of the year! Unfortunately, Jacqueline did not seize the opportunity to take a look, and since we had other things to do, I had to settle for a so-so photo of the Chat while it was in the shade. Once in Charlottesville, we had lunch (take-out from Bodo's Bagels!) at a picnic table at the office park by Route 29 on the south edge of town, and near there is where I saw a Pine Warbler, American Goldfinches, and many Cedar Waxwings.
June 3, Humpback Rocks: As others have noted, there are plenty of birds to be seen while hiking on the trail up to Humpback Rocks. Jacqueline and I stopped at the Afton Overlook in hopes of seeing the Yellow-breasted Chat again, and sure enough, there it was -- perched in a distant tree top, making his odd racket "song." This time Jacqueline *did* see it! The highlights along the trail itself were several Scarlet Tanagers and most of the warbler species, including quite a few Cerulean Warblers. At the top of the rocks I was amused to see a Dark-eyed Junco hopping around in search of crumbs left by hikers. On the way back down I heard and soon saw my first Yellow-throated Vireo(s) of the year. It was quite a day indeed!
June 6, Bell's Lane: I went in the late afternoon, and was pleased to get a few good views. Brown Thrashers were making a racket here and there, but they mostly stayed hidden. Likewise with the Orchard Orioles, but I finally got a nice view of one (a year-old male) near an Eastern Kingbird. Indigo Buntings are common by now, but you don't see American Kestrels or Yellow Warblers every day! The hazy skies caused by forest fire smoke from Canada detracted from the visibility.
For most of the remainder of June, I was traveling out west, and that BIG trip will be the subject of a separate post on birding, coming soon! As usual, the above photo montages, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.