I haven't been birding for a long time so when my friend suggested a trip along the river I thought, "Well, why not, the day is perfect for such an outing." So off we went to the Shenandoah River to take the well traveled drive along Bloomery Road. Below is the rapids at the "S" Curve.
Not much swimming around here. But I am ahead of myself. Before we arrived at the curve we saw a couple of Red Shouldered Hawks and a Kingfisher.
Then as we drove down the hill toward the "S Curve" we saw two Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) digging in the grass. I have never seen such a sight. It had such a deep hole that when it's head was really digging in you couldn't see it's eyes. One seemed odd but when I spotted a second one, well, who knew. I mostly see them at my suet feeder. So when I was home and could look it up in a National Geographic book I have, wouldn't you know there was a large photo of a male eating ants from a hole it had dug. This one that I photographed was also a male as indicated by the black moustache.
I should mention that there were Robins nearby also eating from the ground but not just in one location as this flicker was. Now that I know it loves ants I suspect that it had found an ant colony and was lapping up the tiny morsels. It never moved from that spot the whole time we were there.
Now back to the river. The next exciting sight were a pair of Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola). They breed mostly in the woodlands of northwestern Canada so they are just passing through here. They have been known to nest in old Flicker holes, squeezing into an entrance perhaps three inches wide. The female lays 10-12 eggs.
Before long we were almost to the end of the road. There we had very good views of Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) sunning on a log. The boys were swimming nearby.
Three male Common Mergansers and one female.
On another log the Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) were camped out. You can see the male in the middle. They nest in trees like Wood Ducks, often competing for and sharing the same nest hole.
We also spotted a couple Great Blue Herons, two pairs of American Wigeon, Blue Birds, Black Ducks, Ring Billed Gulls and the ever present Canada Geese and of course other birders.
Here is a view of the river looking back toward the bridge. It was one of the first warm days were have had in a long time. The snow is finally melting and almost gone along the river and valley.
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