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January 15, 2014 [LINK / comment]

Life bird: Snowy Owl!

Just hours after Sunday's blog post, in which I mentioned the Snowy Owl irruption, I was able to witness the rare spectacle for myself. I drove up to Rockingham County, found the location (Cecil Wampler Road), and sure enough there was a crowd of a dozen or more bird aficionados. [They] were all peering at the Snowy Owl sitting in a barren corn field about 100 yards away. And just like that, I chalked up life bird number 408, duly recording the image on my Canon digital camera:

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl, in Rockingham County, just south of Harrisonburg, on January 12.

It was truly amazing to see a bird so far south of its normal range. The owl turned his head and stretched a few times, but did not move otherwise. With so many people gathered along the road, there was a danger of a traffic accident, so I bid farewell and departed after only ten or fifteen minutes.

After that, I drove a few miles west over to Silver Lake, on the north side of Dayton. To my delight, nearly all of the migratory ducks that have been reported there recently were present. The one bird I missed was a Horned Grebe. The bright afternoon sun made for ideal photographic conditions, except that my camera doesn't capture brightly-lit colors very well.

American Coot, American Wigeon

American Coot and American Wigeon, on Silver Lake, just north of Dayton, on January 12. Roll your mouse over the image to see a Wigeon three days later, when it was cloudy.

These photos, and several more, can be seen on the Wild birds yearly photo gallery page. Here is a list of what I saw on Sunday:

I drove back up to Rockingham County today (Wednesday), but no Snowy Owl was to be seen. The same species of ducks and other birds were still at Silver Lake, however. On the way back into Staunton, I stopped at Bell's Lane, and saw four male Green-winged Teals in the pond behind the Days Inn, as well as a Northern Harrier (young or female), and some Red-tailed Hawks.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 16 Jan 2014, 5: 09 PM

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Blog highlights have been compiled for the years 2010-2012 thus far, and eventually will be compiled for earlier years, back to 2002.


The "home made" blog organization system that I created was instituted on November 1, 2004, followed by several functional enhancements in subsequent years. I make no more than one blog post per day on any one category, so some posts may cover multiple news items or issues. Blog posts appear in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the chronological order in which the posts were originally made:

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