Birding in January and February
After a fairly mild December (see March 31 blog post), real winter weather finally arrived in January. We had significant snow falls (at least an inch or so) on the 3rd, 16th, 21st, and 28th days of the month. (It also snowed on the 13th of February, the 12th and 26th of March, and the 18th of April!)
Late in the afternoon of New Year's Day I went to Bell's Lane, and had a glimpse of a Short-eared Owl just as dusk was falling. On January 5, a White-crowned Sparrow appeared in our back yard, which was rather unusual. They generally stay outside of town, in contrast to the more "urbanized" White-throated Sparrows.
Being very busy with school duties, I didn't get out for any actual birding until January 15, when Jacqueline and I drove to Waynesboro. At the Invista ponds we saw a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Great Blue Heron, and -- thanks to Jacqueline's sharp eyes -- a Pied-billed Grebe! Then we drove north through Crimora and saw another Red-shouldered Hawk, and after heading back east we saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a female American Kestrel, and a third Red-shouldered Hawk along the road.
On January 18 another unusual bird appeared out back, a Brown-headed Cowbird, and once again it may have been related to the heavy snow, forcing birds to look elsewhere for food. On January 21 a Common Grackle showed up out back, likewise snow-related. I got some nice photos of a Red-bellied Woodpecker in the snow that day. On January 29, I made it out to Bell's Lane, and saw a Cedar Waxwing and a Red-tailed Hawk, along with the usual White-crowned Sparrows and American Robins; Robins seemed to be more plentiful than usual during the winter of 2021-2022. Northern Harrier
On February 5, I stopped briefly at Eagles Nest Airport, just west of Waynesboro, and was amazed to see what I initially thought was a young Tundra Swan, but turns out to have been a Trumpeter Swan. Then along Route 250 in front of the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center I saw a Red-shouldered Hawk, probably the same one Jacqueline and I had seen three weeks earlier. Inside the campus I walked along the trail to the pond and spotted some Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Eastern Bluebirds, and a Northern Flicker.
On Saturday February 19 I was amazed to see a Hermit Thrush in our back yard, and I just barely got a recognizable photo of it before it departed. Then, on the bright and sunny afternoon of Monday February 21, I paid a visit to Bell's Lane, and had an excellent view of a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, other woodpeckers, and glimpses of a Yellow-rumped Warbler. A return to that location five days later yielded little other than a distant Red-tailed Hawk.
The above photo montages, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.