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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.)
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!"
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.