(Catching up): Birding in January
January 2, Swoope: I never saw the Loggerhead Shrike that had been reported Lynne Parks, so instead I drove out to the Boy Scout lake / campground, and hiked up that hunter's access road that I explored for the first time the month before. Once again, it proved to be very birdy, with several woodpeckers, most notably a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers! The one in this photo seems to be molting, presumably nearing adult plumage. The other main highlight was seeing some Brown Creepers that responded eagerly to the sound of their song that I played back on the iPhone.
January 5, McCormick's Mill: After a false start on a wild Ross's Goose chase in the Stuarts Draft area, I found myself heading south along I-81 on a totally improvised excursion to Raphine. Some rare Eurasian Wigeons had been reported at McCormick's Mill, and I figured I should at least go take a peek. Indeed, there they were, mixed in with a number of their American relatives, other ducks, and Canada Geese. Just like that, life bird # 511!!!
January 7, Highland & Bath Counties: Allen Larner led a very successful Augusta Bird Club field trip to Highland and Bath Counties, the first such winter trip since before the pandemic. We saw Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles in multiple locations. As usual, we saw many interesting ducks at the pond along Rt. 220 just south of the county line, as well as Horned Grebes, Pied-billed Grebes, a Common Loon, and many Common Mergansers at Lake Moomaw. But the biggest highlight of the day came at the very end of the day when Allen spotted a Barred Owl perched on a wire along the road as we left Lake Moomaw. It was the first time I had seen that species in over ten years, I think. It was a very productive and enjoyable day!
January 14, Lake Shenandoah, Bridgewater, etc.: Jacqueline and I took a random drive northward. The only notable bird th at Lake Shenandoah ere was a Great Blue Heron. On the North River in Bridgewater was a pair of Americans Wigeons, along with more Mallards. On Bell's Lane after dusk three Northern Harriers were swooping around.
January 21, Montgomery Hall Park: I got a few good birds in the afternoon, most notably a Hermit Thrush and an Eastern Towhee. Some excellent sunlit images!
January 23, N. Staunton & Bell's Lane: A Sharp-shinned Hawk showed up out back in the morning, scaring all the Mourning Doves away for a while. Late in the afternoon I went to Bell's Lane and saw the usual raptors and a dozen or so Common Mergansers in a distant farm pond.
January 28, Swoope: I led an Augusta Bird Club field trip in the Swoope area, and we went hiking for almost a mile along the woodland hunter acess road. We saw a distant Red-headed Woodpecker, as well as many White-throated Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, etc. I was able to lure a couple Red-breasted Nuthatches into view by playing their calls, but such efforts did not pay off for the expected Brown Creepers and Kinglets. Later we all stopped at Cattleman Road, and Bill Benish eventually spotted our main target bird, the Loggerhead Shrike. It was very cooperative as it gradually got closer to us in the course of its hunting routine. Finally, we headed east on Livick Road where, to our utter amazement, I spotted a SECOND Loggerhead Shrike perched on a fence!!! (Top center in the photo montage below.) Josephine King kept track of all the species we saw, including several Northern Harriers and American Kestrels. On the way back to Staunton we saw three or four Red-tailed Hawks, some of which were being harassed by American Crows. It was a memorable day!
As usual, the above photo montages, including some closeup images and additional photos, can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page. NOTE: Beginning with this year, I am indentifying by standard four-letter abbreviation the most significant species in the captions of the bird photo montages on that page.