October 15, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Beautiful day for hawks (and a warbler)

This morning was pickup day for folks who bought bird seeds in the Augusta Bird Club's annual bird seed sale, in nearby Verona. I took some photos for the website, and helped out a little. Unlike some past years, the weather was bright and beautiful. While there, Jo King and I noticed two Red-tailed Hawks circling overhead, so I took some photos of those too. On my way home I photographed an American Crow bathed in bright sunlight, and an hour or so later I noticed a hawk shrouded by bushes in the back yard. I carefully stepped onto the patio to get some photos, and could see that it had killed a Starling. Good! Even better, I saw a female Purple Finch at the feeder, the first of the season for me, and a Cape May Warbler hopping along nearby tree branches in search of insects to eat. Not a bad day of (casual) birding!

Birds Montage 15 Oct 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-tailed Hawk, Purple Finch (female), Red-tailed Hawk, Cape May Warbler, Sharp-shinned Hawk (juv.), and in center, American Crow.

Several other photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page. One of them is a Common Tern, which three of us saw in at the quarry pond in Fishersville on October 8. That unusal sighting was on the way back from an Augusta Bird Club field trip to Lofton Lake, in southern Augusta County. The highlights of that trip (which was very wet, with steady drizzle) included some Cape May Warblers and a couple Wild Turkeys. Speaking of warblers, I saw at least 15 Yellow-rumped Warblers on Bell's Lane on October 12, and several Palm Warblers a few days before that.

After going to the World War II air show in Weyer's Cave on Thursday (October 13), Jacqueline and I drove up to Dayton, where we went shopping at the mall and had a great barbecue sandwich at Hank's. Then I checked out Silver Lake, where I saw the usuals plus a Pied-billed Grebe, a Great Blue Heron, and over a dozen Killdeers foraging on the mud flats. For some reason, the water level was low. But my main destination that day was the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction, where I hoped to see some American Golden Plovers. I saw them there for the first time on September 29; it is surprising that so many of them have lingered so long. After a few minutes of scanning the fields, I spotted them, about 80 altogether. Jacqueline noticed the golden tinge on their wing feathers, without me prompting her!