June 29, 2023
February 4, Bell's Lane: I noticed a female Downy Woodpecker excavating a nest hole, anticipating spring. This was right across from the entrance to the first farm, 1/4 mile from the kiosk. Then I saw a Red-tailed Hawk having some kind of rodent for lunch, as well as a Red-bellied Woodpecker, some Carolina Chickadees, and White-breasted Nuthatches. At the pond behind Hardee's in Verona were a few dozen Canada Geese, a couple Mallards, and a lone male Ring-necked Duck..
February 5, Charlottesville : Jacqueline and I stopped at Azalea Park, which was one of my favorite places to go when I started birdwatching in the late 1990s. Noticing a lot of bird activity in some bushes at the end of the woods, I went for a closer look, and then a handsome little Ruby-crowned Kinglet popped into view!
February 8, Harrisonburg : Jacqueline and I stopped at the JMU Arboretum in the afternoon, and walked all the way to the end for the first time. Not many birds back there, but on the way out I heard and eventually saw a male Pileated Woodpecker announcing his presence with some loud hammering.
February 10, Augusta Springs: I went to today (taking advantage of the nice weather) and saw both kinds of Nuthatches (Red-breasted and White-breasted), several Winter Wrens, and the usual resident songbirds. I also met a friendly guy named Charlie who follows the ABC Facebook page. Later in Swoope I saw several E. Bluebirds, a Red-tailed Hawk, and an American Kestrel, but no Loggerhead Shrikes or Bald Eagles.
February 11, Mill Place trail : I went to get exercise on the this afternoon, but there weren't many birds other than the Red-bellied Woodpecker you see here. On the pond behind Hardee's were a few Hooded Mergansers, that lone male Ring-necked Duck again, and the usual Canada Geese and Mallards. On Bell's Lane I was amused to see a Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a cowpie. An American Kestrel and a couple N. Harriers were also present.
February 15, Braley Pond trail: A nice hike along the on Wednesday only yielded a few good birds, the highlight being a feisty Winter Wren hopping around fallen tree logs. I glimpsed a few Golden-crowned Kinglets and White-breasted Nuthatches, but I didn't even hear any Red-breasted Nuthatches there for the first time in several months. Near the village of West Augusta was a large flock (20+) of Amer. Goldfinches and a pair of Killdeers.
February 22, north Staunton: The first Common Grackle of the year for me arrived yesterday morning, one day too late for the Great Backyard Bird Count! In the afternoon I went for a stroll on Bell's Lane, where the bright sunshine accentuated the colors of the birds.
February 24, Waynesboro: Jacqueline and I stopped at the pond on the northwest edge of the city, and our hopes of seeing the famous Trumpeter Swan # P61 were quickly fulfilled! (It has returned to that pond almost every winter for the past six or seven years, I believe.) As an added bonus, we also saw several American Wigeons at fairly close range! Unfortunately, the lighting was less than ideal. Not only that, I heard some odd calls up in a nearby tree, and soon spotted a pair of Eastern Phoebes, my very first ones of the year!!! Then we went for a long walk along the South River Greenway, where we saw Downy Woodpeckers, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Yellow-rumped Warber or two.
February 26, Braley Branch trail: It was a beautiful day to get outside, but for some reason the birds just didn't show up. I had a nice view of a Red-breasted Nuthatch while Jacqueline and I were hiking on the trail today (our first time there), and later saw a White-breasted Nuthatch, a distant Wild Turkey and Red-tailed Hawk, as well as a very close Pileated Woodpecker that really startled me as it flew away! Otherwise nothing but a few chirps from the bushes and treetops.
As usual, the above photo montages, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.