Spring migrants begin to arrive
Even though spring weather has been delayed by at least two weeks this year (curse the groundhog!), most of the neotropical migrant birds seem to be arriving as expected. In Lynchburg yesterday afternoon, during the long period between my morning and evening classes at CVCC, I saw two first-of-season birds: Chimney Swifts and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. I brought my new Canon PowerShot SX50 camera in hopes that I might get some good shots in various outdoor locations, and it paid off, as you can see:
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are usually very active, so it's hard to get one in focus before they move on to a different branch. I also photographed some Yellow-rumped Warblers (both male and female) at that park in Lynchburg, but they were in the shade most of the time, so the results weren't as dramatic as I had hoped.
In addition, I've been checking out Bell's Lane fairly regularly, with mixed results. Tree Swallows and Phoebes have become more common since I first observed them on March 16. East of Staunton, the Great Blue Herons have established a rookery of over a dozen nests, and in Swoope, west of Staunton, there is a Bald Eagle nest which I photographed last month, and this week Vic Laubach took a photo of a baby Eaglet and its parent. I can't wait to get back out to both places.
One of the more unusual sightings recently was a group of four Blue-winged Teals, on a small pond in a residential neighborhood on the north edge of Staunton, on March 27. I pulled over by the side of the street, and managed to get some very good pictures. Three days later I got some great pictures of a Lesser Scaup on the drainage pond in back of the Target shopping center south of Waynesboro. Finally, on Monday, April 8, I got some good pictures of a male Purple Finch on the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad trail in Staunton. That trail has deteriorated greatly in recent years, with several fallen trees blocking the way and a storm drainage culvert that has become totally clogged, turning the ground above it into an eroded mud pit.
These photos, and many others I have taken recently, can be seen on the Wild birds, year by year page.