June 22, 2010
Summer officially began just yesterday, but with temperatures in the mid-90s it already feels like the "dog days" are here, which means that there won't be much more birding activity to observe until September.
The day trip that Jacqueline and I took to the highlands along the West Virginia border was very productive in terms of bird observations, and I even got a good photograph of one of a Ruffed Grouse. Amazingly, we were able to drive up to within 15 or so feet of it before it scurried off into the bushes; I didn't realize they were so tame. Near the top of the ridge, I heard a buzzing song that I believe was a Golden-winged warbler, but never did see it. I also heard Ovenbirds, Pine warblers, and caught a glimpse of a probably Northern Parula. Here are the highlights from Saturday:
Thanks to Augusta Bird Club member Allen Larner, I got to see a very rare bird this past Friday: a "Common (?) Moorhen," which looks a lot like a Coot. The body is charcoal gray with a pale bar across the wing, most of the bill and forehead are bright red, and the tip of the bill is yellow. It was at Smith's Pond in the Swoope area of Augusta County, along with various ducks. They are definitely not "Common" in this part of the country. The only one I had ever seen before was in Peru in 2004, and I was close enough to get a good picture. (It's on the Peru birds photo gallery page.)
Allen Larner also recently discovered a Great Blue Heron rookery on Sanger's Lane east of Staunton, and to help people locate it, I posted a photograph at AugustaBirdClub.org.
Cedar waxwings seem to be all over the place lately, and most of them are presumably getting ready to breed. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any orioles lately. Among other observations of note: