A week ago Friday, I had the day off from work - always happy about that. And I wanted to hike but not all day, so I returned to Dutch Gap Conservation Area near Colonial Heights. It's a five mile hike, approximately, around a large oxbow on the James River. I am not including a track of the hike in this post, but you can see an approximate track here from a prior hike.
On this hike, I always try to slow down and observe a bit, and I am usually rewarded with wildlife sightings. It's a good place to see critters - they even have a bird banding research station here.
Birds are trapped in mist nets and banded by researchers. I've never done it but would like to help some time.
Speaking of birds, I kept hearing prothonotary warblers and would stop and look for them to no avail. There is really good habitat for these beautiful yellow birds with the gray wings. Finally, at the last place I really heard them, one landed on a branch about 15 feet away.
I don't believe I'd ever seen them before, but they sure are gorgeous! They get their name because prothonotaries (a type of court clerk) used to wear yellow hoods back in the day. Later in the hike I spied a great blue heron that actually didn't fly away, and a wood thrush.
I also managed to get a photo of this spicebush swallowtail. It is battered and its normally bright colors have faded, so I guess it is nearing the end of its life.
I'll be back here in early July. I'm leading a group hike after work.
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