10-12 Jun 2016 - Highland County, VA

The weather was spectacular for the summer VSO field trip June 10-12, in Highland County. 49 enthusiastic birders tallied 102 species over the 3 days. Great finds included 16 warbler, 8 flycatcher and 7 woodpecker species. Many thanks to my fabulous field trip co-chair, Lee Adams, who assisted in leading groups on Saturday and Sunday; and to Wayne O'Bryan for allowing us to visit their property Sunday morning.

Friday afternoon was spent at nearby Forks of Water and Rainbow Springs Retreat property (a lovely restored 1870s farmhouse where 4 of us stayed). We were rewarded with a nice variety including Baltimore Orioles, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler and Cedar Waxwings at the first stop, followed by more Baltimore Orioles, Yellow Warbler, Broad-winged Hawk and singing Wood Thrush at the second.

Friday evening we gathered at The Real Deal restaurant for dinner, where the owners set up a buffet to accommodate our large group, serving delicious smoked beef and pork BBQ.

Saturday we divided into two groups and explored the northwest section of the county. We covered the same areas but from opposite directions, including Rt. 601 (Bear Mountain Rd), Rt. 54 (Lake Buffalo Rd), Laurel Fork, Straight Fork and various stops in-between. Along the way, we found many sought-after warblers: Canada, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Blackthroated Green, American Redstart and Magnolia. We even found a Mourning Warbler along Lake Buffalo Rd, nesting in the exact same spot where we found it three years ago. On Rt. 601 we got Vesper Sparrow. The other group got Alder Flycatcher, in different spots.

Sunday morning we birded Wimer Mountain Road and the beautiful O'Bryan property. We found Golden-winged Warblers behind the house and off the road. While that was certainly the target bird, we also enjoyed Bobolink, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Cedar Waxwing and Indigo Bunting. 

Spectacular views of the mountains, hills and valleys of Highland County added to the enjoyment. Many first-time visitors said the scenery alone was worth the trip. Our fantastic group of birders made this a truly memorable weekend! Complete list of species for the 3 days follows.

Meredith Bell
VSO Field Trip Co-chair

Official List of Observed Species

Canada Goose
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Louisiana Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow