Ridge Junction Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway
August 30, 2019
Our day at Ridge Junction began early.The morning was cool and clear. The earliest arrivals were treated to a spectacular sunrise and common nighthawks foraging on the horizon.
From first light, song birds were zipping over our heads; most continued their overnight flights over the ridge and out of sight, but many dropped in for closer viewing. Tennessee, Magnolia and Cape May Warblers were of a few of the boreal breeding migrants that we were lucky to see. These birds, at the vanguard of fall migration, were fall firsts for most in the group. Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Red-eyed, Blue-headed and Yellow-throated Vireos all made an appearance. Red Crossbills were heard but, unfortunately, not seen. The most common birds of the day were Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warblers. They were streaming over, foraging in nearby trees and in nearly constant territorial conflicts all around us.
As the migratory flight waned and the overhead flight died down a bit, mixed flocks would periodically work across the forests and the field adjacent to the pull off. The photographers in the group set up their cameras and waited for the birds to pose. After a full night of migration, the birds were refueling and largely unconcerned with the fifteen birders just feet away, snapping photos and appreciating their beauty. A yellow-throated Vireo here. A Blackburnian Warbler there. Golden-crowned kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatches in the mix.
It was a beautiful day on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Good company, lots of birds and a delicious picnic made for a fine day outside.