August 26, 2013
Even though the calendar says there's over three weeks of summer still ahead of us, for the birds fall is here already. For example, the first migrating Common Nighthawks of the season have appeard in our area. E-mail reports of various shorebirds prompted me to visit Leonard's Pond (in southern Rockingham County) this afternoon, but the water was high, so there wasn't much mud, and no shorebirds were present. I did get a nice photo of a Mourning Dove, however. On the way home I stopped at Bell's Lane and saw a couple Baltimore Orioles fly into a sycamore tree, and I got a decent photo of an adult male. I also saw a Willow Flycatcher, a Phoebe, and a Least Flycatcher, identified by its small size and clear eye ring and wing bars, which are characteristic of Empidomax flycatchers. Since Least Flycatchers hardly ever nest in this area, it's safe to say it is a southbound migrant.
Some of the afore-mentioned birds can be seen on the newly-update Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.
Another sign of fall is that the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch has begun. According to Vic Laubach (who shares Coordinator duties with Brenda Tekin), "We've already tallied 172 hawks in the first 10 days of the season, including 10 Bald Eagles, 17 Osprey and 117 Broad-wings. We will be holding an OPEN HOUSE at the hawk watch on Saturday, September 14, from 11 am-2 pm." I look forward to helping out once again this year, as time permits.