January 10, 2005 [LINK]

Life bird: Cackling geese

Thanks to a tip from Allen Larner, one of, if not the most active member of the Augusta Bird Club, I spotted some Cackling geese for the first time ever yesterday. They are close relatives of the much more common Canada geese (in fact, they used to be considered the same species), but they are only about two thirds as big. I saw at least three, in the middle of a flock of 100 or more Canada geese. Two other birders, Brenda Tekin and Tom Pendleton, happened to be at the Bell's Lane location when I arrived, and using their spotting scopes provided a much better image than my binoculars. Thanks, folks! Red-tailed hawks were all over the place; we counted at least eight. Also seen: a Kestrel, a Downy woodpecker, and 15 or so Killdeers.

UPDATE: I just received a letter from Susan Heath, Secretary of the Virginia Avian Records Committee, informing me that my submitted sighting of a Western tanager last March has been accepted as a "Category One" sighting, the highest level of acceptance, based on physical evidence, i.e., photographs taken by Brenda Tekin and me. This was the fifth sighting of a Western tanager in the Mountains and Valleys region of Virginia since records have been kept, but the first ever in Augusta County.