Fredericksburg Canal and River Walk Trip Report – April 29, 2017

Fifteen club members turned out for our walk along the Fredericksburg canal and Rappahannock River this past Saturday.  We were lucky to have Andrew Dolby, Chair of Biological Sciences, at UMW and an expert birder, as our leader.  We gathered at the small parking lot on Fall Hill Road at 7:30am and quickly started to tally our first birds of the day – Gray Catbird, Eastern Phoebe, Northern Cardinal, and a beautiful Scarlet Tanager at the top of a tree across the road from us.

We proceeded to cross Route 1 and walk along the canal, past FOR headquarters, and towards the river.  The day started misty, but the skies cleared quickly and the humidity rose steadily along with the temperature.  The birds didn’t seem to mind and the bird chatter was challenging our rusty “birding by ear” skills.  Luckily we had Andrew to help us tease out the different bird songs we were hearing and add them to our growing list.  Some birds we heard, but didn’t see, were Rose-breasted Grosbeak, White-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush and a Black-throated Blue Warbler.  Along the canal, we had several Eastern Kingbirds, posing nicely at eye level, a magnificent male Wood Duck on the water, a pair of Common Yellow-throats, several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Carolina Chickadees using a natural nest cavity and a single Cedar Waxwing – odd to see one all by itself.

We took a trail through the woods that led down to the river where we saw a pair of Canada Geese and a pair of Mallards hanging out together, Double-crested Cormorants flying by and a Bald Eagle soaring above.  We then watched as an Osprey took off from its perch and dove down into the river coming up with a fish in its talons and Jim Hazzard was able to catch the whole sequence.

Out next stop was along River Road where we watched Tree Swallows hawking bugs above the river, and picked up House and American Goldfinch, along with European Starling, Brown-headed Cowbird and a House Sparrow.  Andrew saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo fly across the road and disappear into the thick scrub at the river edge.  We tried to find it but no luck.  We did get to see a Blackpoll Warbler working its way up a tree, busy feeding, after its long migration north.

From here we drove over to Old Mill Park where we got good looks at a male Baltimore Oriole.  Our attention was then drawn to where several birds, including American Crows, were mobbing some unfortunate bird in the thick undergrowth.  They achieved their intent as we watched a raptor decide to give up and get out of dodge.

All agreed it was a fun day – good weather, great company and a total of 57 species, including 9 warbler species.


Participants

Andrew Dolby

Bev and Jim Arnold

David and Georgia Patton

Elton and Fritzi Schwemmer

Jeremy Larochelle

Alton Dick

Nancy Verity

Brenda Chase

Mike Lott

Mark Miller

Jim Hazzard and Sally Knight

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