June is a noisy month, full of the “sounds of romance” in the air. When “in the field” you can become immersed in the chorus of frogs, the songs of birds and the mass high pitched onslaught from the mass emergence of cicadas; you will find there is nothing quiet about this month.
I had an impulse to get up early and visit the Rockingham and Augusta County area on Saturday, June 17th. I arrived toward the upper elevations of Briery Branch Road before daybreak. From here I had many Whip-poor-wills calling from the road and the adjacent woods. I could creep the car along and see their orangish-red eyes glow from the beams of the headlights. Birding was solid but nothing of significance was noted until the Rockingham County border with West Virginia. As many have reported many Red Crossbills were present. I had a flock of 10 fly over early but only 3 different individuals would alight in the nearby trees for leisurely viewing.
From Rockingham County I then traveled over to Augusta County to check on odonates. I stopped periodically and appreciated the many warblers breeding upon the ridge line. Chesnut-sided, Canada, American Redstart, Mrytle, Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue and others were heard and observed. I also happened upon a Barred Owl searching for food, probably for young of the year.
On Friday, June 10th I made my way up to Highland County, Virginia to engage in what always proves to be an enjoyable day. One of the nice attributes of the county is the readily demonstrated abundance of flycatcher species. Within a fairly limited footprint of the county you can get a dose of Least, Willow, Alder and Acadian Flycatchers, E. Wood Pewee, E. Kingbird, E. Phoebe and Great Crested Flycatcher. The grasslands and adjacent areas of the county present an opportunity to hear and see Bobolinks, E. Meadowlarks and Grasshopper, Savannah, Field, Chipping and Song Sparrows. I enjoyed 13 species of warbler during the day but did not make it to sites that usually have breeding Mourning Warblers and several other species.
Upon enjoying some early morning birdlife I visited a couple of sites for odonates and butterflies. I quickly found a couple of Riffle Snaketails, Northern Pygmy Clubtails, Least Clubtails and several Harris’ Checkerspots and Long Dash Skippers.
On the way home I found the eastern portion of Highland County and the western portion of Augusta County along Route 250 to be a raucous swarming horde of emerging cicadas. Their high pitched calls, sounding much like a high pressure gas line leaking, resounding through the woods.