FBC Leesylvania State Park Outing – May 14, 2016

By Sally Knight

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

After two weeks of rain every day, I was more than a little concerned that our club outing to Leesylvania State Park could be another wet one.  However, luck was on our side as we threaded the needle between rain Friday evening and a big storm front moving through Saturday afternoon.  Six FBC members and our leader, Candice Lowther, met at the first parking lot immediately after the toll booth at 7:30am.   The morning started out cool but it was dry and the sun was just starting to hit the forest edge where the birds seemed as happy as we were to have a break from the rain.  In fact, it was so birdy here, we easily spent an hour listening to, and picking out, the numerous warblers and other birds that were busy flitting from branch to branch, gleaning insects as they went.  Some of the first birds we heard and saw from the parking lot were Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided and Yellow-throated Warblers, but by far the most numerous warbler was the American Redstart and mainly females.  We also got good looks at female Black-throated Blue warblers and heard a couple of males singing their buzzy song.  Blackpoll warblers were also singing everywhere as were the Red-eyed Vireos which for once were easy to see as well.  A male Scarlet Tanager gave us stunning looks as he sang from the top of a tree.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from this very productive spot, as the birds were continuing to be both heard and seen with seemingly no drop off in numbers.  Still, we had other areas of the park to check out so it was time to move on.  We car pooled to the next stop, the parking lot on the right to Powell’s Creek trailhead, which offers slightly different habitat.  Here we heard an Indigo Bunting and Wood Thrush singing and heard our first of many Eastern Wood Pewees and Great Crested Flycatchers.  Two Pileated Woodpeckers were also seen flying low through the woods.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

We then drove down to the far end of the park and parked in the lot closest to the pier.  In the winter months it is worth walking to the end of the pier to scan for overwintering waterfowl but this morning the water was very quiet.  We did hear a Fish Crow flying over and an Osprey was seen carrying nesting material, one of several we saw during the morning.  From here we walked up to the battery look out and enjoyed blue skies and sunshine!  Candice heard a Canada Warbler singing and we were successful in tracking it down and getting great looks of this gorgeous warbler. Also seen were a couple of male Magnolia Warblers, equally spectacular in their breeding plumage, and a Black and White Warbler creeping along a branch.  We also spotted our only Yellow-rumped for the day.  We continued along Lees Woods Trail where we heard an Ovenbird loudly vocalizing its “teacher, teacher, teacher” call and briefly glimpsed an adult Bald Eagle flying low over the treetops.  Just after Candice mentioned we hadn’t yet heard or seen a Cuckoo, a Yellow-billed flew in above us!

Leesylvania Group

Hanne, Candice, Scott, Bob, Mark and Lily

Heading back down the hill we decided to walk through the parking lot to the visitor center and back through the picnic area.  A Coopers Hawk was briefly seen being chased by a Crow.  We picked up our first Mockingbirds for the day and saw a Downy Woodpecker.  Tree and Barn swallows were flying around low and one Chimney Swift was heard and seen flying high above.  Carolina Chickadees were busy carrying food to young ones either still on a nest or possibly already fledged.

Swainson's Thrush

Swainson’s Thrush

Our last stop was Bushy Point where we hoped to pick up a Prothonatory Warbler.  While the group did not get to see this warbler, Hanne and Lily, who stayed on after the walk, reported back that they got to see a very cooperative one at this location.  We did however get to see a Swainson’s Thrush and Mark got this good photo of it posing for us.

We ended the walk at 12:30pm, reluctantly, as some of us had other obligations to get to, but as Candice said, she frequents Leesylvania often and this had to be the best in terms of warbler numbers and variety she has ever had.  Our timing was perfect!

Thanks to Mark for his great photos.  We tallied a total of 60 species – full list follows.

Canada Goose   1
Mallard   1
Great Blue Heron   2
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture   1
Osprey   5
Coopers Hawk   1
Bald Eagle   2
Ring-billed Gull   2
Mourning Dove   1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo   1
Chimney Swift   1
Red-bellied Woodpecker   4
Downy Woodpecker   5
Pileated Woodpecker   2
Eastern Wood-Pewee   5
Great Crested Flycatcher   7
Red-eyed Vireo   30
Blue Jay   15
American Crow   1
Fish Crow   2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow   3
Tree Swallow   10
Carolina Chickadee   13
Tufted Titmouse   8
White-breasted Nuthatch   4
Carolina Wren   15
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   9
Eastern Bluebird   3
Swainson’s Thrush   2
Wood Thrush   3
American Robin   5
Gray Catbird   2
Northern Mockingbird   2
Ovenbird   2
Black-and-white Warbler   2
Common Yellowthroat   3
American Redstart   19
Prothonotary Warbler   1
Cape May Warbler   1
Northern Parula   9
Magnolia Warbler   5
Bay-breasted Warbler   1
Chestnut-sided Warbler   3
Blackpoll Warbler   13
Black-throated Blue Warbler   4
Yellow-rumped Warbler   1
Yellow-throated Warbler   3
Black-throated Green Warbler   2
Canada Warbler   3
Scarlet Tanager 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak   1
Northern Cardinal   10
Indigo Bunting  3
Red-winged Blackbird   3
Common Grackle   18
Brown-headed Cowbird   5
Orchard Oriole   3
Baltimore Oriole   2
American goldfinch   8


FBC Participants

Candice Lowther – Leader

Sally Knight

Mark Miller

Hanne Hansen

Bob Hunt

Scott Byrd

Lily Graham

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