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September 24, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Field trip to Augusta Springs

This morning I led a field trip for the Augusta Bird Club to Augusta Springs, joined by four other members: Ed and Nancy Lawler, as well as Larry and Jane Litke. (Larry and Jane are new members who had never been to Augusta Springs before.) The weather was beautiful, remaining cool or mild until 11:00 or so.

In contrast to just about every other visit I have made to that location, this time we began in a counterclockwise fashion, not reaching the boardwalk portion of the loop trail until after we had hiked along the upland loop extended trail. We were influenced by all the bird activity we noticed in that direction (right), but it turned out to be almost exclusively Robins, with a few Blue Jays. We did get nice looks at a Magnolia Warbler, a Scarlet Tanager, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak -- the latter two being females. As we continued into the upland trail, I was surprised that we didn't see or hear any Ovenbirds or Worm-eating Warblers, which abound in that area during breeding season. Other notable species that we saw included: Pileated Woodpeckers, Blackpoll Warbler, and Swainson's Thrushes. I thought I saw a Wood Thrush in the bushes, but never could get a good look at it. It is listed the the first eBird report below as "Catharus sp." ("+1 other taxa"). Finally, we heard but did not see Blue-headed Vireos and a Red-breasted Nuthatch, which must have been an early migrant. That species is only present in the lowlands of Augusta County during the winter months.

We returned to the parking lot just before noon, and then Ed, Nancy, and I took an excursion through the Swoope area on the way back to Staunton. At Smith's pond, Nancy spotted a Pied-billed Grebe, another early migrant returning from the north. While at the Boy Scout Camp a couple miles to the south, I saw a sparrow fly past us, more than likely a Song Sparrow, but never could get a good look at it. It is listed below as "sparrow sp." ("+1 other taxa") It was strange not to see any definite sparrows during the entire day. There was a major Boy Scout event taking place, with close to a hundred cars parked in a nearby field. All those Boy Scouts must have scared away the birds from the lake! Along Route 703, we saw several birds that turned out to be Blue Grosbeaks, which are known to breed in that general area, but are uncommon. At the same location, we saw a family of Cedar Waxwings. Ed saw a Purple Finch there, but I only had a glimpse of it.

Of the 23 species seen in the second part of our field trip, ten were not seen during the first part, which makes a total of 43 species combined. Ed kept track of the species on our checklist, upon which the eBirds reports shown below are based. We missed seeing a few "target" birds, but it was a very pleasant, enjoyable, and productive day of birding.

Birds Montage 24 Sep 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Swainson's Thrush, Blackpoll Warbler, Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak (female), and Pied-billed Grebe. Roll your mouse over the image to see the Swainson's Thrush enlarged. Several other photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.

eBird report #1

Augusta Springs Wetlands Trail, Augusta, Virginia, US
Sep 24, 2016 8:45 AM - 11:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments: Augusta Bird Club field trip
33 species (+1 other taxa)

  1. Turkey Vulture -- 1
  2. Yellow-billed Cuckoo -- 1
  3. Red-bellied Woodpecker -- 1
  4. Downy Woodpecker -- 2
  5. Hairy Woodpecker -- 1
  6. Northern Flicker -- 2
  7. Pileated Woodpecker -- 2
  8. Eastern Phoebe -- 1
  9. Blue-headed Vireo -- 2
  10. Blue Jay -- 8
  11. American Crow -- 4
  12. Carolina Chickadee -- 5
  13. Tufted Titmouse -- 3
  14. Red-breasted Nuthatch -- 1
  15. White-breasted Nuthatch -- 4
  16. Carolina Wren -- 4
  17. Swainson's Thrush -- 2
  18. Catharus sp. -- 1
  19. American Robin -- 18
  20. Gray Catbird -- 4
  21. Northern Mockingbird -- 2
  22. European Starling -- 1
  23. Common Yellowthroat -- 1
  24. Magnolia Warbler -- 1
  25. Bay-breasted Warbler -- 1
  26. Blackpoll Warbler -- 1
  27. Pine Warbler -- 1
  28. Eastern Towhee -- 1
  29. Scarlet Tanager -- 2
  30. Northern Cardinal -- 2
  31. Rose-breasted Grosbeak -- 1
  32. Indigo Bunting -- 3
  33. House Finch -- 2
  34. American Goldfinch -- 4

View this checklist online at

eBird report #2

Swoope Area, Augusta, Virginia, US
Sep 24, 2016 12:00 PM - 1:50 PM
Protocol: Traveling
9.0 mile(s)
Comments: Augusta Bird Club field trip
23 species (+1 other taxa)

  1. Pied-billed Grebe -- 1
  2. Turkey Vulture -- 3
  3. Red-tailed Hawk -- 2
  4. Ruby-throated Hummingbird -- 1
  5. Downy Woodpecker -- 1
  6. American Kestrel -- 1
  7. Eastern Phoebe -- 1
  8. American Crow -- 6
  9. Tree Swallow -- 60
  10. Carolina Chickadee -- 3
  11. Carolina Wren -- 2
  12. Eastern Bluebird -- 2
  13. American Robin -- 5
  14. Gray Catbird -- 2
  15. Brown Thrasher -- 1
  16. Northern Mockingbird -- 3
  17. European Starling -- 12
  18. Cedar Waxwing -- 4
  19. sparrow sp. -- 1
  20. Northern Cardinal -- 2
  21. Blue Grosbeak -- 3
  22. Indigo Bunting -- 4
  23. Purple Finch -- 1
  24. American Goldfinch -- 3

View this checklist online at

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 24 Sep 2016, 10: 34 PM

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