May 11, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Migration season nears an end

The month of May began with a fairly significant sighting by me: a group of Bobolinks singing their weird metallic songs along the high point of Bell's Lane. I couldn't get a good photo, however, and they weren't there when I returned two days later.

A key sign that spring bird migration season is almost over is when the Blackpoll Warblers show up, and indeed I saw one last week (May 4) at Cook's Creek Arboretum in Bridgewater. My visit there was prompted by an e-mail alert from Greg Moyer about a Common Loon at Silver Lake in nearby Dayton, which I just couldn't resist. I got some good photos, including one with the Loon struggling to swallow a large fish it had caught. On the way back, I had high hopes for Cook's Creek, where I had seen many neotropical migrants about a year ago, but it was much quieter this time.

Montage 04 May 2017

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Blackpoll Warbler, American Goldfinch*, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Loon, White-crowned Sparrow*, and in center, Bobolink*. (The three birds with asterisks were seen May 1, and the others were seen May 4.)

On Saturday May 6, the Augusta Bird Club held its annual spring brunch Lofton Lake in southern Augusta County, graciously hosted by Kathy Belcher and Joe Thompson. Highlights included Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Towhee, Green Heron, American Goldfinches, Kingbird, and a few others. Light drizzle probably curtailed the number of birds seen during the walk around the lake.

On Monday, May 8 I joined Penny Warren and two other birders on an Augusta Bird Club field trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which I had not yet visited this spring. We heard a wide variety of neotropical migrants in the trees, and had a few good views at the various stopping points. The two big highlights of the day were both at the same location, at mile marker 7.5: Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Canada Warbler (the latter was the first of the year for me). We would not have seen the latter bird but for the fortuitous encounter with Marshall Faintich, a renowned bird photographer from the Crozet-Nelson County area.

Montage 08 May 2017

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: American Redstart, Indigo Bunting, Cedar Waxwings, Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo, Canada Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

The very next day, Penny hosted another ABC field trip, this time to Betsy Bell Hill on the east side of Staunton. Like the day before, we heard a lot more birds than we actually saw, but we did get some nice views. I spotted a Swainson's Thrush in a distant tree (FOY for me), but it was hard to see and not everyone managed to get a view. We all had a very good, extended look at one or two Chestnut-sided Warblers, another FOY for me.

Montage 09 May 2017

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Great Crested Flycatcher, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and in center, Swainson's Thrush.

The above photo montages, and a few new individual bird photos shown therein, can be see on the Wild Birds yearly page.

Today I heard an unusual bird song out back, and soon spotted an American Redstart darting around the tree branches. I also saw a Great Crested Flycatcher and a Wilson's Warbler (FOY), but unfortunately could not get a photo of it. I'll try again tomorrow...