November 29, 2009
I've only been on one major birding expedition this month, and precious little otherwise. A female Red-bellied woodpecker has been showing up at our backyard feeder almost every day lately, and we have seen an immature Yellow-bellied sapsucker on a semi-regular basis as well. Dark-eyed juncos are quite plentiful, and White-throated sparrows are somewhat less so. Red-tailed hawks are becoming more common along the highways, but thus far not as many Sharp-shinned hawks as I would normally expect.
Two weeks ago, on November 14 (Saturday), I joined Allen Larner, Penny Warren, and one other birder for a field trip to Bath County, about one hour's drive to the southwest, near the West Virginia border. It was very sunny and mild, and there was almost no wind at all, creating a serene sense of calm in the remote forests. Our first stop was the reservoir on Back Creek, where a hydroelectric station is located; all of the immature Bald eagles were seen there. Lake Moomaw was the final destination, and I was shocked to see how low the water level is. This was a deliberate measure aimed at reducing the risk from structural faults in the dam. (Yikes!) On our way back we stopped to enjoy the view from the top of a mountain pass east of Warm Springs, and spent a while looking around the Swoope area of western Augusta County. Here are the highlights, including ten (10) birds I saw for the first time this season:
* What about "Bathing in Bird County"?
The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Ida, and no tourists or nature lovers will be admitted until the damage is repaired. That's a pity, but maybe Mother Nature figured the area had too many humans and needed a good "washing." See a gallery of flood photos at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.