My Virginia spring gobbler season has been very unsatisfactory so far, as I have not punched a tag. But the spring woods have been as glorious as ever.
Today, the closest I came to a gobbler was around 11:00 A.M. when two toms wandered by some 80 yards distant. But for much of the day, I experienced the joy of watching some beautifully colored scarlet tanagers and American redstarts on a hunt in Craig County.
Last week, I heard my first scarlet tanagers of the year, but did not actually see one until today. Most of the time this tanager is a creature of the tree tops, but today I observed several of these birds, which sport a scarlet body with black wings, feeding on the ground. What's more, they were quite close and I watched them flitting among the leaf litter.
Several times, American restarts came by as well. This bird, which has a song like a squeaky wheel, was busily going about eating insects from small trees. The species' combination of orange and coal black is a rather unique color scheme - for sure there is nothing in the Virginia mountains that looks like it.
I also heard my first worm eating warbler of the year. On a sad note, though, I have not yet heard a whip-poor-will or a chucks-will-widow. Their population declines are very alarming.