June 7, 2016 [LINK / comment]

ABC field trip to Highland County

Last Saturday, June 4, I joined Allen Larner who led the Augusta Bird Club's annual early summer field trip to Highland County. The weather forecast was ominous, but Allen was determined to go, so we went! Along with Brenda and Keith Tekin, we drove west to Highland County, and met up with John Spahr and Bob Ake (who lives in the Tidewater area), and John took us to Sapling Ridge, a high-elevation location that was new for us. It didn't take long to find the Mourning Warbler which were supposed to be there, and I was thrilled to get some adequate photos. Higher up, we saw several different species of warblers, most notably Blackburnians. Later on we went to the home of the late Margaret O'Bryan in search of Golden-winged Warblers, and we did identify it but only by sound, not sight. (That was at, where we met the very friendly guy who continues to take care of the property.) Then we went to other locations where Golden-winged Warblers are known to breed, but without success. The trip was marred by mechanical problems in one of the automobiles, forcing us to spend a lot of time trying to get a tow truck. But at least while we were waiting we were able to see a lot of birds in John Spahr's back yard, most notably a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The following list of notable sightings is not complete, as others saw birds that I missed. One of us will probably submit an eBird report in the near future.

As a footnote, I heard some Dark-eyed Juncos, but somewhat surprisingly, I didn't see any. Same for Yellow Warblers. We had a few sprinkles while looking for birds, and then after we started driving back to Staunton, we encountered a couple real deluges! Overall, it was about the same degree of success (i.e., mid-range) as our club's Highland County field trip last year (June 13); see my June 25, 2015 blog post.

Montage 04 Jun 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Bald Eagle, House Wren, Alder Flycatcher, Blackburnian Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Magnolia Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Mourning Warbler, and (center) American Goldfinch. (June 4, 2016)
Roll your mouse over the image to zoom in on the "star" of the day, the Mourning Warbler.

Sandhill Cranes visit

A pair of Sandhill Cranes visited Fishersville in the first few days of June, and I was fortunate to be ready to go searching as soon as I got the e-mail alert. After a few quick minutes, bingo! I saw one such bird in the same general area in April 2014*, and four of them west of Harrisonburg in March 2014.

* The caption for the photo erroneously states that the bird was in Madison Run; I may correct that later.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes, north of Fishersville, June 2, 2016. More photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly page.