July 24, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Green Heron family on Bell's Lane

Until last Thursday, I had seen only one Green Heron on Bell's Lane all year, though I did see some elsewhere: at Huntley Meadows in Fairfax County (June 30) and at the Nazarene Church Road wetlands in Rockingham County (July 8). Penny Warren (see note below*) has reported seeing more than one such bird in the Bell's Lane area on a few occasions, and last week she reported seeing several Green Heron fledglings -- proof that they had successfully bred within the Staunton city limits! On Thursday afternoon I decided to take a look at the location she identified: the ravine near the north end of Bell's Lane, next to the entrance to the Days Inn motel. It has become flooded over the last several months thanks to a beaver dam. Anyway, I did spot the fledgling Green Herons not long after I arrived at the ravine. On the way there, I also saw and photographed an adult Green Heron perched near a Belted Kingfisher on a wire above a pond. Plus, I took a nice photo of a male Goldfinch.

Green Heron juveniles

Green Heron juveniles, on Bell's Lane, July 21. They appear to have fuzz around their heads, causing a sort of "halo" effect. Other photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.

In other local bird news, we have had further reports of Sandhill Cranes north of Fishersville, a possible indication that it may be a breeding pair. (See my June 7 blog post; scroll down.) If so, that would be HUGE news!

* ABC leadership transition

Penny Warren has served as president of the Augusta Bird Club for the last five years, a period during which the club embarked on several big new initiatives. The club logo was redesigned, and now features a stylized rendition of a Meadowlark, which members felt was a more suitable symbol of a typical bird that distinguishes Augusta County from other parts of Virginia. (Previously, it was a House Finch.) Second, hats featuring the new club logo were manufactured and sold to members, who now proudly display them on birding ventures. Third, new efforts at community outreach have been made, including the monthly "Beer and Brews, Wine and Wings" social hour at the Yelping Dog in downtown Staunton. Fourth, the club "adopted" Bell's Lane as part of Staunton's community cleanup program, and some of us have made the effort to remove trash and beverage containers from the side of the road there. Finally, a new display kiosk was built and installed on Bell's Lane, with a chalkboard that allows people to share observations of birds and other wildlife in that precious natural haven. It all adds up to a HUGE record of accomplishment for Penny, and she deserves hearty praise and recognition for it.

Understandably, Penny needed a rest from all her efforts, and Peter Van Acker was elected to replace her at the club meeting in April. That was the same month that I assumed responsibility as editor of the club newsletter, on top of my existing responsibilities as Web site editor.