June 18, 2009
More often than not, whenever there is a rare bird alert in this area, I miss out on it, or so it seems. Yesterday, however, I got lucky. A Roseate Spoonbill was sighted across from the Waynesboro Nursery in Lyndhurst earlier in the week, and on Wednesday afternoon I headed out that way in hopes of seeing it. At about 4:00 I arrived at the indicated location on Shalom Road, just across the South River bridge, and after a few minutes of scanning the fields with my binoculars, sure enough, there was the Spoonbill standing in a big mud puddle about 300 yards away. Absolutely incredible! There is no listing for that species in Birds of Augusta County,* so this must be the first one ever confirmed in this area. So, I started walking along a dirt track next to a corn field that soon got very muddy, and eventually I got to within about 100 yards of the bird. It was at least close enough to get a good look at the strange shaped bill, which is apparently useful in probing for food. Adult Spoonbills are deep reddish pink, whereas the young ones such as the one I saw are much paler. While I was there, Thelma Dalmas and another birder from the Lynchburg area arrived. We talked about the Calliope hummingbird that I saw west of Lynchburg back in January.
Just as we were leaving, a Cooper's hawk flew over, scaring the Indigo buntings, Bluebirds, etc. into hiding.
Later on, I stopped at Bell's Lane and was rewarded by the prompt appearance of a male Baltimore Oriole. Also seen: Grasshopper sparrows, Kestrel, and Willow flycatcher.
The Roseate Spoonbill was life bird # 384, my fourth new bird of the year. And so, I have updated my life bird list page.
* Coincidentally, the editor of that reference book, YuLee Larner, had a column about rare bird sightings in the Wednesday News Leader, and she mentioned my name with regard to the Scissor-tailed flycatcher I saw on May 28; see blog post of June 3.
I didn't expect to get very close to the Spoonbill, so I didn't bother to bring any camera, but Brenda Tekin had better luck today, as you can see at birdsofvirginia.com.
We have been sad that almost no hummingbirds have come to our feeder since the early June, but two days ago, one showed up (a female), and to our delight is now making regular appearances several times a day.