April 8, 2007
Jacqueline and I took a nice Easter Sunday drive through Augusta County today, and stopped at the park where the Great horned owl nest is located. I brought our video camera, but the gusty winds made it hard to keep steady enough for a good picture. The adult is clearly visible on the left, and the young one is behind the twigs on the right side. Hopefully the young owl (or owls) will not fledge until I get a good shot!
We also saw several Blue-winged teals on Bells Lane (the first time in over a year), Bluebirds in a few places, and a Kestrel hovering in the wind northwest of Fishersville.
Several more folks have weighed in on the "mystery sparrow" via the shenvalbirds e-mail list, including one person from Iowa (Diana Pesek) and one from South Dakota (my brother John). "After further review," there is no longer much doubt that it was just a young Swamp sparrow -- an unusual bird to see in a back yard, but not rare. I've had a couple more chances to see it over the weekend, and it doesn't appear much smaller than the other sparrows after all. I do appreciate all the careful observations from fellow bird watchers, even though it turned out to be a less "newsworthy" sighting than I originally thought. Several people commented on what an enjoyable and productive dialogue this sighting sparked, which was nice.
Interestingly, I also saw Chipping sparrows and a Field sparrow out back today; the latter is quite uncommon inside city limits. The White-throated sparrows are getting their bright breeding plumage, as are the Goldfinches.