February 20, 2010 [LINK / comment]

Birding in Rockingham County

I went birding in Rockingham County with fellow Augusta Bird Club member Jo King yesterday morning, in search of two rare birds that were were recently reported by local bird watchers: a Peregrine falcon and a Snow bunting. No luck on either of the target birds, unfortunately, but it was a successful outing nonetheless. We first stopped at Leonard's Pond, just in case some ducks might have stopped by, but it is still frozen over. About a mile north where the Snow bunting was supposed to be we saw a number of songbirds, and it was nice to hear so many of them actually singing. (Yes, Virginia, spring is on the way!)

Later on, we passed through the towns of Bridgewater and Dayton, and stopped for a while at Silver Lake, where there is a historic mill and museum / gift shop. There we saw about 20 Mallards, a pair of Mute swans, a pair of Lesser scaups, and a lone female Bufflehead. Not bad! But the real highlight of the day was when a flock of Amerian pipits flew in and landed on the lake shore. Some came within 50 feet of us, walking on the snow. We were utterly thrilled! After checking my records back home, I confirmed that it was the first time I had ever seen that species, which makes life bird #401 for me!! (My previous first-ever bird sighting, #400, was a Pectoral sandpiper, three actually, on October 28.) I have updated my life bird list accordingly. Anyway, here the highlights of the day's bird observations, 33 species altogether, with exclamation marks where appropriate and estimated numbers for some of them:

  1. Bluebirds
  2. Kestrels
  3. Red-tailed hawk
  4. Meadowlarks !
  5. Black vultures
  6. Carolina wrens
  7. Red-winged blackbird
  8. White-breasted nuthatch
  9. White-crowned sparrows !
  10. House finches
  11. Yellow-rumped warblers (8) !
  12. Robins (50)
  13. Kildeers
  14. Red-bellied woodpeckers
  15. Mute swans (2) !
  16. Lesser scaups (2) !
  17. Bufflehead (F) !
  18. American pipits (20+) LIFE BIRD!!

In other birding news

While driving across the Route 29 bridge over the James River near Lynchburg on Thursday, I saw a flock of at least 100 gulls, probably Ring-billed gulls. It was quite a sight to behold. The weather has been too bad to do much birding over the past several weeks, so I'm left watching birds in the back yard. We had a Towhee show up a few times this week, and some Robins appeared late this afternoon. Overall, there are fewer woodpeckers and White-breasted nuthatches than in past winters, and hardly any goldfinches, to our dismay. Zero Cedar waxwings, zero Purple finches, and zero Pine siskins so far this year. frown

I should also mention that I have made several visits to a location east of Stuarts Draft where a Rough-legged hawk has been seen on a regular basis for the past few weeks. Somehow, it has eluded me every time I have been there. Maybe next time I'll get luckier...

Finally, I recently updated my standard Montages of wild bird photos, with vastly improved photos taken with my digital cameras over the past two years:

Wild bird montage

Clockwise from top left: Bluebird, Tree swallow, Ruby-throated hummingbird, Cardinal, Magnolia warbler, Barred owl, Painted bunting.

Roll the mouse over the image to see the old wild bird photo montage.