August 17, 2018 [LINK / comment]

Birding in the dog days of August

I have only had three bird outings of any significance this month, and although I made a few satisfying "discoveries," I didn't see any more of that Blue Grosbeak which showed up on Bell's Lane on July 28.

On August 4, Jacqueline and I took a day trip south through the small towns of Middlebrook and Brownsburg, and birding was a lower priority. The two highlights were a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a fence post not far from the road, and a Grasshopper Sparrow that was only about 20 feet away. Unfortunately, it was in a bad position relative to the sun, so the photos I took were full of harsh glare. My camera battery died, to my chagrin, so there wasn't much point to doing much birding in the picturesque Goshen Pass or Augusta Springs locations which we visited on the return leg of our drive home.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-tailed Hawk, American Goldfinch, Grasshopper Sparrow, and a Chipping Sparrow flanked by two views of a Red-tailed Hawk; not the same one seen at the top left. (August 4, 2018)

The very next day, Jacqueline and I went for a hike on the Shenandoah Mountain trail, retracing the steps of the Augusta Bird Club field trip which I led there back on May 24. As expected, bird activity was pretty subdued, but we did see a family of Scarlet Tanagers flittering about. (I believe the one below is a juvenile, based on the frazzled appearance, especially the tail.) Other highlights were an Eastern Wood Pewee singing nearby and a Black-throated Blue Warbler -- the only warbler (other than an Ovenbird) that we saw that day! A surprise rain shower forced us to hurry back, or else I might have seen or photographed more birds.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Broad-winged Hawk, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Eastern Wood Pewee, Scarlet Tanager, and Red-eyed Vireo. (August 5, 2018)

The next few days were rather rainy, curtailing outdoor activity. But it was mild and sunny on Wednesday, so I went out to Bell's Lane and had some nice surprises: a Willow Flycatcher and Yellow Warbler, both of which of have seemed scarce in that area this summer. I also saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an Indigo Bunting (they aren't singing much if it all any more), Red-tailed Hawk (juv.), a family of Eastern Phoebes , dozens of swallows of various kinds, many Goldfinches, a Wood Duck, and best of all, a Pied-billed Grebe! This area is on the southern fringe of its breeding range, and we hardly ever see them in the summer. One of the Phoebes had the yellowish tint characteristic of that species in the colder months, making me think for a minute that it might be a Great Crested Flycatcher.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Willow Flycatcher, Red-tailed Hawk (juv.), Pied-billed Grebe, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Phoebes, and in center, a Yellow Warbler -- probably a female or juvenile. (August 15, 2018) Several other photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.

Yesterday, we saw an Osprey flying over Barrenridge Road on the west side of Fishersville, as well as Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings here and there. Today we had a hummingbird at our back porch feeder for the first time this year! Presumably they will be regular visitors until late September or so.