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October 3, 2011 [LINK / comment]
Hundreds of hawks, dozens of warblers, and three bears!!
A premature cold front from Canada has evidently caused a sharp acceleration in the fall bird migration season, including raptors as well as neotropical songbirds. Outside the temperatures are dropping into the forties tonight, putting the health of insect-eating birds at risk. Over the past month I have managed to get out for some bird-watching ventures just enough to enjoy the autumnal peak of bird migration. It's been a while since I last had a blog post on birding or nature, so here goes a quick summary of the past month:
As for raptors, I was delighted to see a large-scale "kettle" of Broad-winged Hawks for the first time two weeks ago. Jacqueline and I stopped at the at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch on the way back from a trip to Albemarle County. There were about eight other birders up there on Afton Mountain, and I partly made up for scanty participation by locating two large groups of Broad-winged Hawks, about 200-250 in each "kettle." I didn't have my camera with me, so I couldn't record the amazing event. So instead, here are some photos I recently took of Nighthawks:
Common Nighthawks, over the northeast side of Staunton, Sept. 9.
To see a photo of some real hawks, as in the daytime variety, take a look at AugustaBirdClub.org. Thanks to Diane Lepkowski for sharing that photo with the bird watching public.
At my last visit to Afton Mountain, I was lucky to see an adult Bald Eagle and a Merlin flying right overhead, as well as the more common species of hawks.
While hiking to the top of Turk Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park on September 18, two Sundays ago, Jacqueline and I spotted a nice variety of warblers, and other neotropical migrants. (See partial list below.) There were a few good mushroom species that I photographed, but there were hardly any butterflies around. Fall had already arrived!
- Black-throated Green Warblers
- Tennessee Warblers
- Magnolia Warblers
- Black-throated Blue Warblers
- Hooded Warbler
- Red-eyed Vireos
- Scarlet Tanager
Last Thursday (Sept. 29) I paid a brief visit to the Rockfish Valley Trail in Nelson County, and saw a good number of birds in a short time. I am often impressed by the amazing observations and photographs made by Dr. Marshall Faintich, who covers that trail on a regular basis and shares his findings via the Shenandoah Birds e-mail list.
- Palm Warblers
- White-eyed Vireos
- Cedar Waxwings
- Red-shouldered Hawks
- Yellow-billed Cuckoo
- Baltimore Oriole(s)
But the most surprising bird-watching experience for me was today, or rather twice in the past week: While I was reading the newspaper in the living room, I noticed a small greenish bird hopping around in the miniature garden behind our back patio. Fortunately, on both occasions, I was able to get photos, or actually video footage, in the case of today's "close encounter." The two warblers in question were only a few feet away from me, almost ideal conditions:
Nashville Warbler; roll mouse over the image to see the ventral (under) side. Those are "freeze frame" images from my digital video camera, and I posted a one-minute clip on YouTube. (Oct. 3)
Common Yellowthroat, female, on our back porch. (Sept. 25)
Finally, Jacqueline and I had yet another bear encounter during our visit to the Shenandoah National Park two weekends ago. Just as we were arriving at the parking area at Turk Gap, prior to our hike, we heard a loud CRASH in the trees. So I got out of the car and was stunned to see a small Black Bear about 15 feet up in a tree. Not only that, there was another one nearby, and then I saw a third bear, obviously an adult by its size! I had seen a mama bear and cub once or twice before, but I had never seen three (wild) bears in the same place before. Fortunately, they took their time getting out of the tree, so I was able to take pictures. And that is "the story of the three bears."
Adult Black Bear, presumably female, climbing down from a tree, rushing to help her two young cubs. Sept. 18, 2011.
I took a much better photo of a Black Bear at the Wildcat Ridge parking area in the Shenandoah National Park on June 8. It's a great way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Virginia's only national park. Jacqueline was very reluctant to drive close enough to take that picture!
Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 04 Oct 2011, 6: 51 AM
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Hits on this page (single blog post) since July 2, 2007:
Culture & Travel
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This (or that) year's
March 9, 2011 ~ Life bird: (un-) Common Redpoll
March 31, 2011 ~ Batter UP!!! Opening Day 2011 is here!
April 3, 2011 ~
Legislators seek redistricting input (?)
April 18, 2011 ~
Tea Party Tax Day rally
May 1, 2011 ~ Confirmed: Osama bin Laden is dead!
May 25, 2011 ~ Governor visits Staunton
May 30, 2011 ~ Nationals WIN, then resume plunge
June 2, 2011 ~ Republicans declare candidacies
June 14, 2011 ~ Anti-tax dogma vs. fiscal sanity
June 23, 2011 ~ Nationals sweep Mariners; Riggleman quits
June 26, 2011 ~ Two extraordinary extra-inning games
July 8, 2011 ~ Nationals sweep the Cubs (almost)
July 26, 2011 ~ Debt ceiling showdown: farce majeur
August 1, 2011 ~ Leaders compromise on debt ceiling
August 20, 2011 ~ Baseball road trip 2011: Missouri
August 31, 2011 ~ Is Obama getting desperate?
September 11, 2011 ~ 9/11: Ten years later
October 1, 2011 ~ THREE "shots heard around the world"
October 3, 2011 ~ Hundreds of hawks, dozens of warblers, and three bears!!
October 10, 2011 ~ Kansas performs in concert at JMU
October 10, 2011 ~ R.I.P. Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)
October 29, 2011 ~ The Cardinals are world champions again
November 5, 2011 ~ Washington Nationals: year in review
November 9, 2011 ~ Republicans gain, State Senate is tied (?)
November 28, 2011 ~ Newt gets real (?) on immigration
December 3, 2011 ~ Moneyball, the A's, and Billy Beane
December 14, 2011 ~ Libertarians don't get no respect *
December 31, 2011 ~ Those wintertime no-baseball blues
Blog highlights have been compiled for the years 2010-2012 thus far, and eventually will be compiled for earlier years, back to 2002.
The "home made" blog organization system that I created was instituted on November 1, 2004, followed by several functional enhancements in subsequent years. I make no more than one blog post per day on any one category, so some posts may cover multiple news items or issues. Blog posts appear in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the chronological order in which the posts were originally made:
- Wild birds (LAST)
- Science & Technology
- Latin America
- Culture & Travel
- Canaries ("Home birds")
- Baseball (FIRST)
Also see: My blog practices.
Blog errata (Nobody's perfect.)