First of all, on Wednesday the 18th I hit a major milestone for my big year..300 birds! I went to Shenandoah National Park, in hopes of finding birds and bears. First thing of note that day was coming upon one of my favorite deer..an old buck that my friend and I call Ol' Rutter. Last winter after the rut (mating season for deer), Ol' Rutter wasn't looking too good, thinned out, limping and had a punctured eye. He made a rebound though and became the strong, healthy buck he usually is. But this one day (Wednesday May 18th) Ol' Rutter wasn't looking good, he was pretty thinned out, limping and couldn't keep up with his companion buck. Poor Ol' Rutter. But then we went on to Pocosin Cabin, one of the very best birding places in Shenandoah National Park. I heard that Least Flycatchers can sometimes be seen at the parking lot there and that was a lifer that I still needed. I did the walk and checked the parking lot before I headed on the walk, but no Least Flycatchers. After the walk which yielded Blackpoll and other warblers, I thought I heard a Least at the parking lot. It did it again. I followed the sound to the bird. There it was, a LEAST FLYCATCHER!!!!!!!! So exciting. I reached 300 birds for 2011. What a thing! Only 75 more to go and I would reach my goal.. Just amazing. And what a beautiful flycatcher and it has an interesting call. So special.
The following day my mom received an email from Matt Stenger, who is doing a big year this year. Matt said that he was going to be traveling through Virginia on his way to the Dismal Swamp to look for Swainson's Warbler. We offered Matt to stay Thursday night. He took us up on that offer, came on Thursday night, we had dinner on our porch and hung out together before going to sleep. The next day (yesterday) we took Matt exploring the mountains of western Virginia in hopes of finding Red Crossbill which would be a lifer for Matt. Unfortunately and surprisingly even though we tried 3 spots we missed Red Crossbill. We got a verity of warblers including Blackburnian, and had a great flyover adult Bald Eagle. What fun to bird and hang out with Matt! This morning Matt headed off to the Dismal Swamp and I wished him a fun time and good luck finding the warbler and he went on his way. It was totally great to have him here! Check out Matt's big year blog: http://716birds.com/
Me (left) birding with Matt Stenger!
On another note, I may be going to the Dismal Swamp for Swainson's Warbler this weekend and also getting Red-cockaded Woodpecker! The VSO (Virginia Society of Ornithology) is leading a trip to Piney Grove Preserve and will get Red-cockaded Woodpecker on Saturday, the 28th. After that trip we would go on to the swamp. My mom says 50-65 percent she can do it for me so not for sure but very likely! Thanks mama!
What a great few days.