Our first stop was the town of McDowell where we checked the feeders for Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, and rarer finches including Evening Grosbeak and Common Redpoll. Several goldfinches were present, along with a Red-breasted Nuthatch.
Our next stop was the Monterey Trout Hatchery. We found 6 Canada Geese. We continued into Blue Grass Valley, watching out the window for Golden Eagles and other raptors. We parked at the Blue Grass Valley cemetery and scanned. We had an immature eagle flying in the distant, that was likely a Golden, but we could never confirm. We drove around the county in search of another eagle. The birds weren't very active, but we eventually spotted a second eagle. It was extremely distant, but we were able to get photos and confirm it as a Golden Eagle! The bird soon flew out of sight. We were satisfied with Highland county, so we drove into Bath in search for ducks. On the way, we spotted 2 Common Mergansers in a pond off 640. We later stopped at a pond off Meadowdale Road seeing American Black Duck, Canvasback and a few ducks we weren't able to identify.
Our first stop in Bath county was the Pumped Storage State lake, which was filled with ducks. It took a while to identify everything, but we identified Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Redhead, Canvasback, Gadwall and more.
Our next planned stop was Lake Moomaw. On the way, the first car flushed a Ruffed Grouse that landed on the side of a hill. The people in the second car saw it, but it soon flushed into the woods and out of sight. We got out and tried to relocate it. Two birders re-found it, but it soon disappeared before everyone else could see it.
We got back on the road and arrived at Lake Moomaw soon after. We viewed from a couple different spots. We had a Redhead, some Gadwall and a few Pied-billed Grebes. We were surprised to find a Ring-billed Gull. We also saw an adult Bald Eagle, 2 Greater Scaup and 13 Common Mergansers. We headed back, satisfied with a good day of birding in Highland and Bath counties.
By Ira Lianez