|A vista along Sugar Creek Road, Fayette County, WV.|
Sugar Creek Road has some big timber. The road itself is about 1.5 car-widths wide and gravel. It is cut into a steep mountainside and at places the road is so narrow that the school bus driver and the folks who drive the vans and buses during the white-water rafting season call out their positions and progress on CB radios to reduce the chance of a head-on collision on a blind curve—of which there are many.
The severity of the landscape is what makes this road special for cerulean warblers. And it's one of the few places where you can see tree-top-loving warblers (like the cerulean) in the tops of the trees BELOW you on the mountain.
|Looking down on a flitting warbler.|
|Fresh off the runway from the birding fashion show: Geoff "Hotlegs" Heeter.|
This year my Sugar Creek trip also had Katie Fallon along. Katie is the world's most passionate fan of cerulean warblers. In fact, she wrote a really great book about them called Cerulean Blues. You should buy and read this book immediately—especially if you love warblers and appreciate good writing.
|Geoff Heeter (in plaid Bermuda shorts) points out a treetop cerulean warbler for Katie Fallon.|
|Male cerulean warbler.|
One of our two primary target birds on the Sugar Creek trip: the singing male cerulean warbler. We found at least a dozen territorial male ceruleans along the route.
|Female American redstart nest building.|
As I got off the bus along the river trail, I heard a Swainson's singing and, after getting everyone else off the bus and ready, I slowly walked forward to see if I could spot where the male was perched. It's always best to find birds doing their thing naturally, without having to resort to song playback, pishing, or bushwhacking to find them.
And there he was, left of the trail, about 35 feet up in a tree. Singing. Preening. Oblivious to the 35 gasping bird watchers who were focusing about $20,000 worth of optics on him.
|Male Swainson's warbler.|
|The Sugar Creek Birders along the Gauley River.|
|L to R: Ernesto Carman, BT3, Katie Fallon, Geoff Heeter.|