December 18, 2006
Unlike most recent years, the weather for this year's Christmas Bird Count was very mild. This year I was teamed up with Stan Heatwole, and we covered the area around New Hope, in the northeastern part of Augusta County. Stan and I saw or heard 42 species altogether, compared to the 36 I saw last year. Aside from the Phoebe, however, there were no real surprises or unusual sightings. The most dramatic wildlife sighting was a Red fox, which I saw running across a corn field. Also, Stan spotted some Slider turtles in a farm pond, which was quite a shock to me. I thought they were all hibernating by mid-November or so. (Global warming?) Here is the complete list of birds for 2006, in chronological order according to when we first saw each one:
Interestingly, many of the numbers closely matched the tallies I made last year. To my surprise, I did not observe any Cedar waxwings for the third year in a row. I would have expected to see at least some of the following birds that I saw last year but not this year:
Many thanks to John and Nancy Spahr for hosting the CBC compilation dinner last night at their beautifully restored home, which also serves as Gallery 234, which is full of original works by Nancy and other local artists.
The area Stan and I covered was almost entirely new territory to me, and even though there is intensive agriculture and considerable residential development, much of the area is incredibly scenic, with the Blue Ridge only a few miles away. The proposed industrial "mega-site" (see May 15) would be located only a few miles away, and I saw several signs and bumper stickers expressing opposition to it.