A diary of birds I've observed, spiced up with photos and occasional commentary. Clockwise from top left: Burrowing Owl, Red-breasted Merganser, Yellow-breasted Chat, Purple Gallinule, Summer Tanager, Gray Hawk, Virginia Rail, and (in center) Magnolia Warbler.
December 4, 2016 [LINK / comment]
American Wigeon in Waynesboro
Thanks to a tip from fellow Augusta Bird Club member Stan Heatwole, on Thursday I located an American Wigeon on the pond behind the Target shopping center on the south edge of Waynesboro. It was the first one I've seen this season, and even though it was in the shade I was able to get a decent photograph of it. I took a better photo of that species in the same place a year or two earlier. There were about 20 Canada Geese there as well, plus a few Mallards, and a male House Finch in a spruce tree very close to my car.
American Wigeon, in Waynesboro, December 1.
Around 2:30 this afternoon, I made a quick visit to Bell's Lane, even though it was very chilly and the skies were overcast. I noticed on the chalkboard at the kiosk that a Fox Sparrow had been sighted there, which was exciting news. (I later learned it was seen by Penny Warren.) I looked in vain for it, but nevertheless had some success in photographing a Brown Creeper and several White-crowned Sparrows. I also saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the distance. No sign of the Northern Harrier, unfortunately, but I later saw an e-mail from Allen Larner indicating that not only was the Harrier present later in the afternoon, but two Short-eared Owls as well!
After I returned home I went out back to fill the bird feeder, and heard a Northern Flicker call from a tree top. I was delighted when it flew down to feed on berries in the vines, and managed to get some nice closeup photos. That photo and a few others taken this month can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.
November 28, 2016 [LINK / comment]
Harrier is back on Bell's Lane
Overall, my birding activity has diminished since the rather intense periods earlier this month. I've gone to Bell's Lane a few times in hopes of seeing (and photographing) one of the Northern Harriers, but with relatively little success. Last Friday (designated "Opt Out Day" by those who object to the "Black Friday" shopping splurge), I took a few adequate photos of one that was swooping around the rolling pastures, but none as good as when I first used my Canon PowerShot SX50 camera in January 2013. They are fascinating to watch, at any rate. I then went to the Fishersville area in hopes of seeing the two lingering Sandhill Cranes, in vain. I did see two Killdeers over there, however.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Killdeer, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird (M), Cedar Waxwing, American Kestrel, Northern Harrier (F/J), White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker (F), and Carolina Chickadee. Roll your mouse over the image to see various photos of the Northern Harrier that day. (November 25)
The Cedar Waxwing was in a tree in our neighborhood, along with several others. I should note that we have had Bluebirds in our back yard as well, which is rather unusual. Those photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.
During my visit to Bell's Lane last Wednesday, I was astonished by how thick the smoke was from forest fires. Betsy Bell Hill was barely visible! I saw a female (or juvenile) Kestrel, and was barely able to make out a group of four Northern Shovelers on the small pond near the high point of Bell's Lane.
November 19, 2016 [LINK / comment]
Field trip to Chimney Hollow
For the third (and probably final) time this year, I led an Augusta Bird Club field trip to Chimney Hollow this morning, and once again, nobody else showed up! (Granted, it was my own fault on the trip in March.) The weather forecast was ominous, but conditions turned out to be quite pleasant for the first couple hours. After a half hour, I came across a cluster of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Chickadees (both kinds), and was happy to get a good look at a Red-breasted Nuthatch. It flew away before I could take a photo, however. Later on I saw a Winter Wren, another "target" bird which I had mentioned in the trip description contained in the ABC Bulletin. I could only get a distant, blurry photo however. I also saw a Brown Creeper, but couldn't get a photo. Two "surprise" birds were both seen and heard flying high overhead: Eastern Bluebirds and American Goldfinches.
After 11:00 or so, the skies turned overcast and the high winds (which had been forecast) finally arrived. I made a quick trip over to nearby Braley Pond, and my effort was rewarded by a Pied-billed Grebe -- the only bird I saw or heard there!
Back in Staunton, late in the afternoon, I went to Bell's Lane, where I had seen a Northern Harrier the day before, during a chance encounter with Allen Larner. Sure enough, the same bird was there, swooping low over the fields, but once again the photos I took were only mediocre. Even though the skies had cleared, it was extremely windy and cold by then, so I didn't stick around for long.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Hairy Woodpecker (M), Pied-billed Grebe, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet (again), Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, Northern Harrier (F/J), and in center, White-breasted Nuthatch. (November 19)
Chimney Hollow Trail, Augusta, Virginia, US
Nov 19, 2016 9:05 AM - 11:55 AM
Comments: Augusta Bird Club field trip
- Black Vulture -- 1
- Turkey Vulture -- 2
- Downy Woodpecker -- 3
- Hairy Woodpecker -- 4
- Pileated Woodpecker -- 1
- Blue Jay -- 1
- American Crow -- 8
- Carolina Chickadee -- 4
- Black-capped Chickadee -- 7 *
- Tufted Titmouse -- 6
- Red-breasted Nuthatch -- 1
- White-breasted Nuthatch -- 4
- Brown Creeper -- 1
- Winter Wren -- 1
- Carolina Wren -- 4
- Golden-crowned Kinglet -- 10
- Eastern Bluebird -- 5
- American Goldfinch -- 3
* Most of the chickadees I heard had the distinctive slow-cadenced call, and this area is known to be on the edge of the Black-capped Chickadees' range. I tried but could not get any good photos.
View this checklist online at ebird.org.
UPDATE: Since I mentioned the visit to Bell's Lane yesterday, I figured I might as well add some of the photos that I took then. Allen Larner pointed out a Palm Warbler on the pavement, and I just managed to get a distant photo of it, showing the yellow rump. In the flooded ravine on the north side of Bell's Lane I saw a single female Hooded Merganser. Later in the afternoon, Jacqueline and I went to Gypsy Hill Park, where I took some closeup photos of common birds such as Mallards and Starlings. Those photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Northern Harrier (F/J), Mute Swan, Eastern Bluebird (M), Red-tailed Hawk, Palm Warbler, European Starling, Hooded Merganser (F), and Mallard (M). (November 18)
November 16, 2016 [LINK / comment]
Field trip to McCormick's Mill
Enjoying more nice weather, today I joined an Augusta Bird Club field trip to McCormick's Mill in southern Augusta County led by Jo King. She counted 28 species altogether, of which the highlight was a Wilson's Snipe on the other side of the upstream pond. It was spotted by Dan Perkuchin, and was a great find. Later on we saw a dozen or so Cedar Waxwings, but they flew away before we could get a good look at them. We also heard and then saw a large flock (estimated at over 45) Eastern Meadowlarks, some of which were in a tree top, others in a field, and some that took a bath in the pond. That was amazing.
Later on, some of us drove over to nearby Willow Lake, where four Ruddy Ducks and one Ring-necked Duck were seen, along with 30 or more Canada Geese.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Wilson's Snipe, Northern Cardinal (M), Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Mallard (M), and Eastern Meadowlark. Roll your mouse over the image to see the Wilson's Snipe enlarged.
November 15, 2016 [LINK / comment]
Nice day for some nice birds
It's been chilly and/or rainy for the [past] couple days, so I took advantage of the nice weather this afternoon, walking along the Greenway Trail in Waynesboro. (I was there on a bird club field trip last month.) Nothing really out of the ordinary, other than a couple Pied-billed Grebes and a Belted Kingfisher on the Invista pond. But the lighting conditions were almost perfect for photographs:
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-bellied Woodpecker, Great Blue Heron, Northern Cardinal, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Harrier (F/J)*, Tufted Titmouse, and in center, House Finch (M). (* Nov. 8; all others Nov. 15)
I saw the Harrier on Bell's Lane six days ago, but wasn't able to get close enough for a good photo before it flew away. I went back there on the way home to Staunton late this afternoon, but the only birds of note that I saw were a couple Great Blue Herons, including the one shown above.
Enlarged images of some of the birds above can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.
To see previous blog entries, go to the Wild Birds archives page.