Birds and a Really Cool Caterpillar at the Blue Ridge Center
Joe Coleman led our bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center on Saturday and sent over this report with the highlights:
Eleven birders found 45 species on the regular monthly (every 4th Sat.) bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center in northwestern Loudoun County yesterday morning. While it was pretty damp and foggy when we started due to the high humidity & the 2″ of rain that had fallen in the previous 36 hours, the rain held off though the sun never came out.
The species we found included a Cerulean Warbler which was associating with one of several flocks of very active Cedar Waxwings that were busy eating fruit and fly catching, a few Eastern Meadowlarks around the farm, and several young Common Yellowthroats. We started off in the scrubby fields around the Visitor Center, took the Farmstead Loop to the Piney Run Spur, crossed Piney Run on the Little Turtle Trail bridge, and then forded Piney Run where the Old Bridge Trail crosses it for a total of about 2.5 miles.
It was a pleasant walk where our biggest problem was that many of the birds stayed high in the canopy and those of us with eye glasses kept having them fog up. Because of the heavy cloud cover there weren’t nearly as many butterflies as the week before. However, we did find a fascinating caterpillar with long white hairs right after we crossed the Old Bridge Trail ford. It turns out it was an early instar of a Black-waved Flannel. The Princeton Field Guide to “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” writes “although they appear soft and harmless, flannel moth larvae are among our most well-defended insects. Beneath the soft outer hairs are warts fortified with hollow, poison-filled stinging spines” – glad we were careful while looking at this fascinating insect.
Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at http://www.blueridgecenter.org. Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its many free public nature program can be found at www.loudounwildlife.org.
Here’s the full list of birds seen:
Green Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Cerulean Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinalm Indigo Bunting, Eastern Meadowlark, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow