Catching up: Birding in August
Not having blogged about birding since August 4 (covering the month of July), I find myself once again with a mountain of things to get caught up on. Just one day after I put up the hummingbird feeders on July 30, we had our first customer -- a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird! It's amazing how regular their migration (or late-summer dispersal) patterns are: they show up at our feeder at almost the same exact day every year! In the following days we had both a male and a female come by.
I didn't see any indication of breeding warblers in the Bell's Lane area last summer, so the sighting of a female Yellow Warbler there on August 6 may have been an indication of dispersal. But the biggest surprise that day was a male Summer Tanager that I saw in a dead tree top northwest of the small pond at the Mill Place Trail in Verona. They are hardly ever seen in the Shenandoah Valley.
For the rest of August, I tried to hike on as many different mountain trails as I could, in search of birds. On August 7 I hiked the Crawford Mountain trail, beginning on the south end where Parkersburg Turnpike crosses the ridge line. That trail eventually connects with Chimney Hollow trail, one of my old favorites, a few miles to the northwest. I saw a nice variety of neotropical migrants, including some juveniles or birds that looked ragged due to molting. The biggest surprise that day was seeing a family ("covey") of Ruffed Grouse just ahead of me, but the only photos I got were barely recognizable.
On August 9 I went hiking along Madison Run, and later stopped at Leonard's Pond. Early in the morning of August 11, after dropping off Jacqueline at Dulles Airport, I walked along the shore of the lake there for the first time. There I saw a Green Heron, E. Kingbirds, etc. Later that day I stopped at Pocosin Cabin, but there weren't as many birds there as I had hoped. The next day I saw a Great Egret on the big Mill Place pond (behind Hardee's) in Verona. The day after that, August 13, I hiked the upland portion of the Chimney Hollow trail, coming to within a few miles of where I had hiked on Crawford Mountain trail earlier in the month. I saw a nice variety of warblers, etc., but the views were only so-so. While walking along Bell's Lane on August 21 I saw a male American Redstart and other good birds
On August 23, I was invited to lead a bird walk for the Izaak Walton League at their private reserve in western Augusta County. We didn't get started until nearly 6:00, so there weren't many birds active. Nevertheless, I did manage to impress the folks after I heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch in the distance, and lured it to our vicinity by playing its call on my iPhone with the Audubon birding app. I explained that this species is normally rare in Augusta County during the summer months, but that we have noticed an increasing number of them for the past year or so. As I was leaving, I saw a distant male Indigo Bunting, the last one of the season. They normally stop singing and depart their breeding grounds by the second week of August.
Two days later, on August 25, I headed up to Leonard's Pond in Rockingham County in hopes of seeing a Short-billed Dowitcher that had been reported there. As soon as I arrived I spotted it along the shore, and got some decent photos. My first life bird of the year, and #509 overall!
On August 27 I went hiking along the crest of Shenandoah Mountain, north of the Confederate Breastworks on the Highland County line, but the only really notable bird I saw was a young Black-throated Green Warbler. The next day I drove up to Washington (mainly to see a baseball game), and afterwards went for a hike around Theodore Roosevelt Island, and was pleased to get good views of several nice birds.
As usual, the above photo montages, including some closeup images as well as other montages and individual photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.