November 15, 2017 [LINK / comment]
Catching up: birding in October
Exactly one week after my October 14 field trip to Chimney Hollow (see October 19) was the pickup day for the Augusta Bird Club's annual seed sale, and I helped out a bit. While delivering bird seed bags to a house west of Spring Hill, I spotted a group of ten or so Wild Turkeys in a field next to the road, so I stopped to take some quick photos. Just in time for the Thanksgiving season! Back at the pickup location at the Augusta County government complex in Verona, there were some noisy Killdeers, and I was able to approach them closely enough for a nice photo. On my way home, I spotted a Great Blue Heron at the beaver pond on the north end of Bell's Lane, and further along got a nice closeup photo of a Palm Warbler.
One week later, on October 28, I returned to Bell's Lane, and there must have been a dozen or more Yellow-rumped Warblers, along with numerous Bluebirds and a few Palm Warblers. Lighting conditions were mixed, so the photos weren't that great. At the beaver pond there was a Killdeer just 20 or so feet away from a beaver!
On October 30 (Monday), I went to Stuarts Draft in search of a Baird's Sandpiper that was reported at the Target pond, but it wasn't there. So, I went to the nearby Shenandoah Wetland Bank (a nature preserve closed to the public) and peered across the gate. There I saw several sparrows and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, as well as a Downy Woodpecker. Then I proceeded a couple miles to the southeast, to the Big Levels area in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. It was quieter than I had hoped, but all of a sudden I came upon a huge flock (300+) of Common Grackles, gathered around a gravel track in the middle of the woods. I was surprised to see that species at all, much less in such an unusual (for them) habitat. I think of Grackles as being birds of the open fields. Lighting conditions were perfect for seeing the iridescent hues in their otherwise-black feathers. Then I took a short hike up to the Coles Run Reservoir Dam, and saw a Hermit Thrush along the way, my first one of the season. There wasn't much else up at the dam, however.
NOTE: The photo montages seen above, along with individual bird photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly page.
Bird list page updated
I updated the Wild Birds species list page (which shows one photo of each species that I have photographed) with a new montage to make it easier to jump to the various groups of birds, just by clicking on the "representative" bird in the composite image. (Note that some groups artificially lump together birds that happen to be found next to each other in the American Ornithological Union's standard classification, but which aren't necessarily closely related.) The old scrolling menu (slightly modified to conform to the new montage) appears just above that montage, which may be revised and updated at some time in the future.