Catching up?!: Birding last October
October 3, Bell's Lane: I was hoping for a warbler fallout after the rains from Hurricane Ian, in vain as it turned out, but the surprise sightings that I *did* have more than made up for the disappointment. Along the middle stretch just north of the sharp bend was a group of White-crowned Sparrows, my first ones of the season. Local resident Carolyn Ford was passing by and told me about a Bald Eagle on her property. Not only that, but a first-of-season Northern Harrier that was being chased by a Red-tailed Hawk!
October 7, Augusta Springs: As expected, I saw my first Yellow-rumped Warblers as well as White-throated Sparrow of the season. Several Ruby-crowned Kinglets were flitting about, but no other warblers were in evidence. The other highlights were a group of Red-breasted Nuthatches and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo which quickly flew away.
October 9, Bell's Lane: I saw my first Palm Warbler of the season, as well as a Northern Harrier on Carolyn Ford's property. Carolyn waved at me from a distance, so I went to see what it was about, and she told me there was an injured Common Nighthawk along her driveway. We called the Virginia Wildlife Center in Waynesboro to get instructions, and she took it to there the next morning. We later learned, however, that its wing was irreparably broken and had to be euthanized. Very sad.
October 12, north Staunton and Bell's Lane: Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers drew my attention to the trees out back this morning, and before you knew it, I saw my first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the season! Along Bell's Lane late in the afternoon, there were quite a few birds, including my first Golden-crowned Kinglets of the season!.
October 15, Augusta Springs & Swoope: I led a very successful ABC field trip, as we encountered interesting birds almost from the very beginning. Thanks to Kristin Fuoco (who presented the program at our club's September meeting) and her friend Javier, we saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in a big sycamore tree. Later we saw groups of Red-breasted Nuthatches at two different locations, just where I said we might expect them. Later on, Wendy & Jim Hill (new members of the club) joined me on a drive through Swoope, and near the intersection of North Mountain Road and Scott-Christian Road we encountered a spectacular array of warblers: Palm (15+), Yellow-rumped (2+), and Pine.
October 22, Shenandoah National Park : Jacqueline and I went for a drive through the to see the fall foliage yesterday, stopping to hike briefly at Pocosin Cabin and Hawksbill Mountain. Highlights included a Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Dark-eyed Juncos. Up above were a Red-tailed Hawk and a Red-shouldered Hawk, as well as a Common Raven that expressed hostility to the raptors.
October 23, Swoope: I went back to the same hot spot along North Mountain Road in Swoope where we had stopped eight days earlier, and was surprised to see a lone Magnolia Warbler foraging in the weeds. Very late migrant! In the distance I spotted a young Red-headed Woodpecker, frantically moving about. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows, and were conspicuous as well.
October 29, Fishersville : In the afternoon went for a casual walk on the trail behind the Murphy-Deming Nursing School. While pursuing an Eastern Towhee in the bushes, I had a brief view of an American Woodcock flying away, with the characteristic twittering sound. It was the first of that species I had seen for well over a year at least! Attempts to lure it back into the open proved to be futile. I also saw at least a dozen Cedar Waxwings as well as a few Red-breasted Nuthatches.
As usual, the above photo montages, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.