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Peak spring migration!

On Monday May 8, Penny Warren led an Augusta Bird Club field trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Afton Mountain to the picnic area south of Humpback Rocks. The group tallied 41 species with nine warbler species as follows:

Thanks to Marshall Faintich, who happened to be there at just the right time, the group had great looks at some Canada Warblers, and a few photo ops! We also had Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, beautiful looks at a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Cedar Waxwings, and then an assortment of other expected birds. All in all, a great morning.

(Excerpted from Penny Warren's trip report.)

Montage 08 May 2017

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: American Redstart, Indigo Bunting, Cedar Waxwings, Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo, Canada Warbler, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Crista,Penny,Ann

Crista Cabe, Penny Warren, Ann Cline at one of the overlooks.

Crista, Penny, Ann at Humpback Rocks vis. ctr.

At the Humpback Rocks visitor center, with azaleas in full bloom.


Annual spring picnic brunch

On Saturday, May 6, the Augusta Bird Club held its spring brunch and field trip at Lofton Lake in southern Augusta County, graciously hosted by Kathy Belcher and Joe Thompson. Highlights included Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Towhee, Green Heron, American Goldfinches, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, Kingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, Field Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, and Black Vulture. Light drizzle probably curtailed the number of birds seen during the walk around the lake, but the brunch afterwards took place in cozy indoor conditions.

Lofton Lake, birders

ABC members looking for birds across Lofton Lake.

Lofton Lake brunch
Lofton Lake brunch
Lofton Lake brunch

The brunch took place inside the Lofton Lake dining hall, where it was nice and warm.


Another Panama Birding Trip!

For two weeks in March, Grant Simmons, Linda Matkins, Lisa Hamilton, and two others from Virginia went on a birding trip to Panama, led by Allen Hale of Buteo Books. (super@buteobooks.com) Their first destination was El Valle, located about two hours southwest of Panama City. Highlights included Keel-billed Toucan, as well as several tanager species (Crimson-Backed, White-lined, Blue-gray, and Palm), Variable Seedeaters, and Buff-throated Saltators. Next they made a brief stop at Santa Clara beach on the Pacific Ocean, and headed toward the town of Gamboa, on Lake Gatun, which is part of the Panama Canal passage. Highlights there included Southern Lapwing, Gray-necked Wood Rail, Ringed Kingfisher, Snail Kite, and Limpkin. At nearby Pipeline Road, they spotted a Great Tinamou, Cinnamon Woodpecker, both White-tailed Trogon and Black- throated Trogon, as well as Broad-billed Motmot, Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper, Golden-hooded Tanager, and Zone-tailed Hawk, among many others. They also saw a sloth in the trees. For the next few days they stayed in thatched huts at Garduk Lodge with the Guna people, the indigenous inhabitants. The final stop was the Forest Preserve near Torti that has been protected as a patch of primary forest; there they saw a Blue-crowned Manakin and White-whiskered Puffbird. Altogether, the group tallied over 200 bird species during their trip. Here is a sampling of the bird photos taken by Linda:

Panama bird montage 2

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Barred Puffbird, Amazon Kingfisher, Black-Breasted Puffbird, Crimson-Backed Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager.

Grant, Lisa, Linda, others in Panama

Grant, Lisa, Linda, and other birders in Panama.


Earth Day 2017

The Augusta Bird Club has participated in several Earth Day-related events over the past week. On Tuesday April 18, we did our annual roadside cleanup along Bell's Lane, fulfilling our club's responsibility that comes from getting official "sponsor" status from the City of Staunton. Four members and one other volunteer spent over two hours retrieving litter, and it was covered on WHSV Channel 3. (Watch the video here.)

Warren, Darrell Bells Lane

Warren Faught and Darrell Schwalm at the Bells Lane cleanup.

Kites 'n Critters bird walkers

Andrew Clem, Steve Talley, Caroline Burns Sheridan, and Darrel Schwalm at the Bells Lane cleanup

Earth Day itself was Saturday April 22, but drizzle and light rain essentially cancelled the two field trips that were scheduled in the morning. Because of the weather, the informational table for the public was set up inside the gymnasium in Gypsy Hill Park, rather than the bandstand. The theme for the 2017 Earth Day Festival was, appropriately enough, "We're For the Birds!"

EarthDay_Linda,Allen,Darrell,Joel

Linda Matkins was running the Earth Day table; Allen Larner, Darrell Schwalm, and Joel Thompson are in the background.

EarthDay_Linda,Allen,Darrell,Joel

During the event, Earth Day Coordinator Caroline Burns Sheridan presented "Earth Day Hero" awards to Grant Simmons (past President of the Augusta Bird Club), Penny Warren (past ABC President), and current ABC President Peter Van Acker.

Finally, Sunday April 23 was the "Kites 'n Kritters" event from 1:00 to 5:00 P.M. at Carolyn Moore Ford's farm on Bell's Lane. Andrew Clem led a bird walk to the beaver dam, with over a dozen eager participants of all ages. We saw an Eastern Kingbird, an Eastern Meadowloark, three kinds of swallows, several Solitary Sandpipers, a Lesser Yellowlegs, some Blue-winged Teals, as well as two Killdeers.

EarthDay_Linda,Allen,Darrell,Joel

The center of activity for Kites 'n Critters was in the barn.

Kites 'n Critters bird walkers

Kites 'n Critters bird walkers.


Raptorthon 2017

On Saturday, April 15, team "Fly Like an Eagle!" from Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch (Vic Laubach, Gabriel Mapel and Baxter Beamer) had a fun and successful 5th annual Raptorthon! Thank you to all of our sponsors! This year we spent 14 hours in the field covering 220 miles birding from pre-dawn to dusk throughout Augusta and Rockingham Counties. We ended up with a total of 96 species including 13 raptor species. If interested, you can view a map of our trip with some photos here: http://rblr.co/RRbH.

(Excerpted from the report by Vic Laubach appeared in the May ABC bulletin.)

Raptorthon 2017 Vic, Baxter, Gabriel

The Raptorthon 2017 team: Vic Laubach, Baxter Beamer, Gabriel Mapel.


South America Birding Trip

During the latter part of February and into early March, Andrew Clem traveled to Peru and Colombia, with birding stops at several places in each country. In Peru, he visited the Humedales (Wetlands) de Ventanilla, about 10 miles north of Lima, and the Pantanos (Marshes) de Villa on the south edge of Lima. In Colombia he went to various places in and around Medellin, including the Botanical Gardens, Parque Arvi, and Cerro Nutibara. On the way back, he spent a few days in south Florida, including the Everglades National Park, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Here are some of the highlights of the trip:

Peru bird montage

Clockwise from top left: Bananaquit, Least Bittern, Great Grebe, Amazilia Hummingbird, White-cheeked Pintail, and Black Skimmer. (In and around Lima, Peru, Jan. 20 - 27.)

Colombia bird montage

Clockwise from top left: Bare-faced Ibis, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Saffron Finch, Blue-gray Tanager, and in the center, Black-capped Tanager. (In and around Medellin, Colombia, Mar. 2 - 4.)

Florida bird montage

Clockwise from top left: Swallow-tailed Kite, Loggerhead Shrike, Crested Caracara, Painted Bunting, White-eyed Vireo, Roseate Spoonbill, and in the center, Purple Gallinule. (In Corkscrew Swamp, Immokalee, and nearby parts of Florida, Mar. 8.)


Panama Birding Trip

In January, Ann Cline took a trip to Panama, including visits to two renowned tropical birding hot spots. At Gamboa she tallied 77 species, of which the highlights were Rufescent Tiger Heron, Golden-collared Manakin, Crimson-backed, Flame-rumpled, Blue-Grey, Palm, and Golden-hooded Tanagers, and several species of Caciques. At El Valle a few days later she saw Toucans, Araçaris, Wood-creepers, and Ani's. Here is a sampling of the photos she took:

Panama bird montage

Clockwise from top left: Southern Lapwing, Lineated Woodpecker, Rufous-capped Warbler, Crested Oropendola, Snail Kite, Crimson-backed Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia.

Chestnut-Mandibled Toucans Keel-billed Toucan

LEFT: Chestnut-Mandibled Toucans.       RIGHT: Keel-billed Toucan.


New Zealand Birding Trip

Last November and December, Ed and Nancy Lawler took a trip to New Zealand, where they went birding in a wide variety of habitats, both on land and on sea. Here is just a sample of the photos they took:

Fiordland Penguins

Fiordland Penguins.

Fiordland Penguins

Southern Brown Kiwi.

New Zealand Fantail

New Zealand Fantail.

North Island Saddleback

North Island Saddleback.

Salvins, Royal, White-capped Albatross

Salvins Albatross, Royal Albatross, & White-capped Albatross.


Owls all around

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl, Jan. 19 on Bell's Lane.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl, Jan. 11; photo courtesy of Elaine Carwile.


Waynesboro CBC 2016

January 2 dawned gray and rainy, but 27 intrepid birders in 11 parties set out to cover their assigned territories for the 52nd annual Waynesboro Christmas Bird Count, which was established in 1965. Despite intermittent rain and fog and what felt like a rather slow day, participants identified 78 species including one new to the count: a Sandhill Crane found by Jo King, Dan Perkuchin, Carroll Lisle, and Marietta Beverage. Other highlights included a high count of Horned Grebes (5) found by two parties: Peter and Angela Nebel; and Melissa Druff with Pat Grabowski, Ellen Kell, and Crista Cabe. The highest number of species tallied was an honor shared by two teams, both with totals of 37 species: Grant Simmons and Brenda Walters, and Rick Keyser and Kate Jensen. Gabriel Mapel, Vic Laubach, and Baxter Beamer found this year's only Barn Owl and American Woodcock. And Elaine Carwile with Elizabeth and Jim Reed found the Black-crowned Night Heron in Waynesboro.

by Crista Cabe


Montage_17Dec2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: American Kestrel (M), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (M), Red-tailed Hawk, Short-eared Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker (M), Northern Cardinal (M), American Robin, Northern Harrier (F/J), Mallard (M).
(All photos taken December 17.)

Augusta County Christmas Bird Count 2016

Nineteen members of the Augusta Bird Club took part in the 2016 Christmas Bird Count for Augusta County on Saturday, December 17. (That part of the CBC is centered in Verona, and includes areas within 7.5 miles of that point. A separate CBC centered near Waynesboro was held on January 2, and a separate report on that is expected soon.) Many participants got a late start due to the icy road conditions. A total of 79 species were counted on the CBC itself, and an additional five species were counted during count week, for a total of 84 species. Highlights:

Highlights from the count week:

by Allen Larner


50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

On Monday December 12, the Augusta Bird Club had a successful and fun filled 50th Anniversary Dinner at Mary Baldwin University. Fifty one members were joined by Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull to celebrate our first 50 years. Special thanks go to Penny Warren, Brenda Walters, and Lisa Hamilton for planning. Thanks also go to Crista Cabe for arranging the venue, and to Andrew Clem for his musical medley -- just one highlight of the evening. The evening included special recognition of founding member Grant Simmons and near-founding member Jo King for their ongoing contributions to the Augusta Bird Club. I, of course, got to do the fun stuff. With the support of all our loyal members, the ABC is well on the way to our 100th anniversary in 2066.

by Peter Van Acker, President

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

View of the dinner, from front to back.

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

View of the dinner, from back to front.

Vice President Stan Heatwole presents a Great Blue Heron painting to Grant Simmons

President Peter Van Acker and Vice President Stan Heatwole present a Great Blue Heron painting to Grant Simmons, a gesture of appreciation for his many years of service to the club.

John Spahr, Tish Folsom, Jo King, and Peter Van Acker

John Spahr elicits laughs from Tish Folsom, Jo King, and Peter Van Acker during the "pishing" (bird calling) contest.

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

Andrew Clem plays "bird songs," while the Smiths (Stark & Jean) and Britts (Emily & Tom) listen.

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

Grant Simmons, the sole remaining founding member of the club, shares his memories of the early days.

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull impresses the crowd with her knowledge of birds.

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

Linda Matkins draws numbers for one of the door prizes.

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

President Peter Van Acker reviews the club's past accomplishments and previews future plans.


Birds of the South River sign on Waynesboro's Greenway

In early December, the City of Waynesboro installed a new sign along the Greenway Trail which follows the South River. One of several similar signs along the Greenway, it features a number of bird photos taken by Marshall Faintich, along with descriptions of each species, and includes a note about the Augusta Bird Club and the various bird counts that are done throughout the year.

Birds of the South River sign

Birds of the South River sign.


ABC bird montage small

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