(Catching up): Birding in March
March 4, Verona: The pond behind Hardee's was full of different kinds of ducks on this nice and sunny day. Stanley Heatwole was already there when I arrived. I had seen the Hooded Mergansers and Ring-necked Ducks there before, but was pleasantly surprised to also spot a Green-winged Teal and a Greater Scaup (both males)! Too bad they didn't come closer. The usual Canada Geese and Belted Kingfisher were there as well. Nearby along Mill Place Parkway was a Red-shouldered Hawk and an Eastern Meadowlark..
March 5, Madison Run: Jacqueline and I went hiking in the afternoon, and on the way there we stopped to admire a pair of American Kestrels perched on a wire. My hopes of finding an early Pine Warbler or other spring migrant did not pan out, however. It was surprisingly un-birdy, in fact, with just a few Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch in a tree top. In contrast, we saw a number of butterflies, including several bright orange Commas, many Spring Azures, a few Juvenal's Duskywings, and a couple beautiful Mourning Cloaks. They made up for the lack of birds.
March 6, Bell's Lane : None of the early Tree Swallows were present in the afternoon, but at least I managed to spot an Eastern Phoebe and had a nice closeup view of some Red-winged Blackbirds, plus the other usual suspects.
March 8, Bell's Lane: A brief visit in the afternoon quickly yielded my first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (F) in several weeks, as well as a Red-shouldered Hawk that flew away before I could get a good photo. Later I saw several House Finches, Red-winged Blackbirds (males in display mode!), and American Robins. I was startled by the nearby rattle of a Belted Kingfisher, and managed to get a photo after it landed on a power line. I also identified distant Tree Swallows, Ring-necked Ducks, Shovelers, and an American Kestrel, but NO Northern Harriers once again! It has been weeks since I have seen one there, and I assume that they migrated north earlier than usual because of the warm weather.
March 10, Bell's Lane : The sun came out in the afternoon, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a female Downy Woodpecker getting a nest hole ready for spring! This was in a tree above the stream near "Cujo Corner." Soon I came across a group of White-crowned Sparrows, as well as an American Kestrel across the field. Further along I saw Nathan Miller, who had just seen some Rusty Blackbirds near the "beaver pond," but I couldn't find any. There were plenty of Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins, as usual, but the biggest surprise of the day was spotting a group of eight or so Cedar Waxwings, the first ones I had seen in several weeks, if not months!
March 14, Bell's Lane: In the afternoon, I had my first views of a Golden-crowned Kinglet and several Wood Ducks (M & F) in quite a while. Also, that big marsh-dwelling rodent again...
March 18, Waverly / Wakefield, Virginia: On the long-distance (about 3 hours each way) field trip led by Allen Larner we saw many, many birds in the pine forests, but at least 95% of them were one of just two species: Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers. We saw a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Eastern Phoebes as well as a Red-shouldered Hawk and a Bald Eagle up above. Finally, we heard a few Eastern Towhees and a White-breasted Nuthatch. In some open fields near the forest we saw a variety of sparrows, Eastern Bluebirds, and a Red-tailed Hawk. A Northern Mockingbird below was outside the Virginia Diner in Wakefield, where we had a nice lunch. We came across a guy who had just seen the elusive Red-cockaded Woodpecker, on his fifth visit to that forest, but we never did find it in the area he indicated, or anywhere else. Next time maybe? Anyway, many thanks to Allen Larner for driving and for showing us around this unique ecological habitat in the southeastern part of the Old Dominion!
March 20, Fishersville: I spotted two of the American Coots that have been reported in the big quarry pond. Then at the Murphy Deming trail I saw a few Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Great Blue Heron, and heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Along Guthrie Road I saw a few distant Killdeers and a Red-tailed Hawk up above. Back home, two male Downy Woodpeckers were squabbling over territorial rights. They must know that today is the first day of spring, and it's time to get busy!
March 25, Augusta Springs: After the sun came out this afternoon, I headed out to in hopes of seeing a Blue-headed Vireo, which Kristin Fuoco had heard there yesterday. No such bird was present today, but I had several excellent bird views which more than made up for it: Mallards, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Eastern Towhees, and a noisy Winter Wren that managed to elude my camera lens.
March 26, Verona: I had my hopes up to see the Horned Grebe and other rare birds that Vic Laubach spotted at the Hardee's pond yesterday, but all I got there today was the Greater Scaup. Still, it was a nice, closeup view, so I can't complain. Along the Mill Place trail I saw several Field Sparrows, a Pied-billed Grebe, and a few other birds. A noisy Killdeer decided to perch on the roof of the dairy manufacturing plant. Along Bell's Lane the Tree Swallows are settling in, trying to decide who will get which of the nest boxes. I also saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker there.
March 29, Bell's Lane: I saw one of the Eastern Phoebes at the same place as before, right around that culvert through which the stream that feeds that small pond passes. I had seen one with moss nesting material on Monday, so they are definitely getting ready to procreate! Further along I had some nice views of a Red-bellied Woodpecker, some Eastern Towhees, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Great Blue Heron. No Tree Swallows, oddly.
As usual, the above photo montages, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.