July 18, 2015 [LINK / comment]

Summer birding doldrums

As I prepare to hit the road on my big summer road trip for this year, I thought I should write a few lines about recent birding and outdoor experiences. I have continued to get in shape by hiking this month, but now that breeding season is nearing an end, not as many birds are singing.

Earlier this month, Allen Larner reported seeing a group of Ruddy Ducks, with males in full breeding plumage, on Lake Shenandoah in Rockingham County. So, I drove up there and did see the birds in question, but they were too far away for a good photo. I returned on July 14, but they were already gone. I did see a Green Heron there, however, as well as a young Great Blue Heron at Leonard's Pond on the way back home.

Then on Thursday, I took a short hike south from the Humpback Rocks area, in search of breeding Cerulean Warblers. That species is in decline, and that part of the Blue Ridge is known as a habitaul breeding ground for them. I heard and saw quite a few birds, including Indigo Buntings, Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Wood Pewees, Pileated Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue-headed Vireos, and Red-eyed Vireos. Finally, as I was heading back to the parking lot, I heard the distinctive buzzing song of the Cerulean Warbler. I may have caught a glimpse, but couldn't be sure. It was still very rewarding to identify its presence.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting (male), at the Humpback Rocks parking lot, July 16.