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On June 16, John Spahr led five other Augusta Bird Club members on a second field trip focused on the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas project. (See the June 2 report below.) The main destination was Braley Pond, near the village of West Augusta, but most of the time was spent along the Johnson Draft trail upstream from the pond. That trail turned out to be very rich in terms of likely breeding birds, and a number of Northern Parulas, Worm-eating Warblers, and Indigo Buntings (including a female with nesting material) were heard and/or seen. Afterwards, some of the members stopped for lunch at the nearby convenience store, where a Ruby-throated Hummingbird came to a feeder. Finally, they spent a while at the Chimney Hollow trail, where they succeeded in locating an Acadian Flycatcher and Louisiana Waterthrush, as well as some juvenile Eastern Phoebes.
On Saturday, June 9th the Augusta Bird Club held its annual spring picnic brunch, this time at Humpback Rocks Picnic Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Attendance was HUGE -- about 30 people -- reflecting the nice weather and the recent surge in club membership. Crista Cabe and Andrew Clem led two separate groups on hikes along nearby trails, and a nice variety of birds were heard and seen. Among the highlights were Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Cerulean Warblers, American Redstarts, and Blue-headed Vireos. And to top it off, the picnic food was wonderful! Many thanks to Linda Matkins, who organized and carried out the big event, and to all the folks who took the time to prepare tasty treats, and finally, to those who helped set up and later clean up all of the picnic paraphernalia.
On June 6, three Augusta Bird Club members went on a hastily-improvised field trip to Highland County, taking advantage of momentary good weather. They succeeded in spotting three main target species. At the Blue Grass cemetery, several Bobolinks were singing and displaying. A few miles north, two male Golden-winged Warblers were seen, along with other warblers, including a female Yellow Warbler in her nest. Finally, at Paddy Knob (on the southwest corner of Highland County, on the West Virginia state line), an elusive Mourning Warbler was briefly spotted, as well as Black-throated Blue Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a Least Flycatcher.
On June 2, John Spahr led five other Augusta Bird Club members on a field trip around the Swoope area, as part of the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas project. The big highlight was when Nancy Lawler spotted a Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest on a horizontal tree branch not far away, and soon the mother-to-be was seen in the nest! In a nearby tree, two Eastern Wood-Pewees seemed to be preparing a nest. Also close by were two Yellow-billed Cuckoos, but efforts to photograph them did not pan out.
On May 24, seven Augusta Bird Club members went hiking along the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, going south about a mile from the Confederate Breastworks. The weather was almost perfect. Among the highlights were Yellow-billed Cuckoos (two heard, one glimpsed), Black-throated Green Warblers, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warblers (M&F), Ovenbirds, Scarlet Tanagers, and Eastern Wood-Pewees.
On May 12, a group of Augusta Bird Club and Rockingham Bird Club members went to the Shenandoah Wetlands Bank, under special arrangements made by Allen Larner. (It is a special nature preserve closed to the general public.) Virginia Rails were heard calling in multiple locations, a hopeful sign of breeding activity. A variety of migrant birds and (year-round residents) were observed as well.
Raptorthon 2018 on May 13 was a HUGE success! (We're calling it epic!) Our team, the Rockfish Gap Hawkwatchers (Vic Laubach, Betty Mooney, and Baxter Beamer) spent 15 hours driving nearly 300 miles birding throughout 2 states and 4 counties, with a major focus being on Highland County, VA. We had tremendous fun, the weather was gorgeous, there were birds everywhere, and it seemed that every location we came to yielded new species! Our efforts were rewarded with a total of 122 species. The biggest highlight of the day came at 5:30pm with the sighting of a Mississippi Kite in Weyers Cave, Augusta County. In terms of raptors, we ended up with 7 species (Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Mississippi Kite, Barn Owl, Barred Owl). As for warblers, we totaled 21 species.
If you haven't been outside looking for birds lately, you'd better hurry!
April 18 was a good day for a field trip to McCormick's Farm in Raphine, Virginia. Nine birders conducted a walk for the Augusta Bird Club. Altogether, 41 species were noted. Observing the male and female Red-bellied Woodpecker at their nest hole was a beautiful sight, as were the five Blue-winged Teal. The Green Heron gave us all a fun show as well.
On April 14, three ABC members went on a field trip to Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro, followed by a walk along the trails by the South River on the northeast side of town. Aside from the birds shown below, Blue-headed Vireos and a White-eyed Vireo were seen as well.
On Wednesday, March 28th, Jo King led a good-sized group to McCormick's Mill in Raphine, Virginia, where they found 34 species, including Gadwall, Wigeon, Towhee, Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Great Blue Heron, among the "usual suspects."
On Monday, March 19th, five members of the Augusta Bird Club participated in a trip to Bell's Lane. It was definitely a chilly morning but we managed to get 45 species. Among the highlights (posted at ebird.org) were Wood Duck, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawks, American Coots, Wilson's Snipes, American Kestrels, Eastern Phoebes, Tree Swallows, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Eastern Meadowlarks, and American Goldfinches.
In January, Ann Cline traveled to Florida, where she photographed several very special birds. Here are some of the best photos she took:
Weather conditions improved on January 27, as ten members and friends of the Augusta Bird Club went hiking along the Madison Run Fire Road, on the edge of the Shenandoah National Park near the town of Grottoes. Approximately 22 species were identified by sight or sound, including some at a nearby house with a feeder. The highlight was a brief view of a Ruffed Grouse that flushed from the bushes along the road. A Hermit Thrush and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were also seen. Afterwards, some of the participants paid a brief visit to Bell's Lane and saw two Sharp-shinned Hawks and a Northern Harrier.