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Field trip to McCormick's Farm

On Wednesday, October 17, six members of Augusta Bird Club led by Jo King met at McCormick's Farm to pursue our interest of bird watching. The weather was fairly cool but the sun shone brightly on many birds of which 35 species were counted. The best finds were the Double-crested Cormorant and four Warbler species. It was a beautiful trip.

by Jo King (updated)

Montage 17 Oct 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Great Blue Heron, and Cape May Warbler. At McCormick's Farm, October 17.

Birders at McCormicks Mill 17 Oct 2018

Jo King and four other happy birders at McCormicks Mill, October 17.


Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk near Verona, October 17. (Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.)



Field trip to Swoope and Augusta Springs

On Saturday, October 13, nine members and friends of the Augusta Bird Club went on a field trip to Swoope and Augusta Springs, led by Andrew Clem and Allen Larner. The weather was cool and breezy, with alternating clouds and bright sunlight. Along Livick Road there was a mixed flock of Savannah Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows, as well as Northern Flickers and some Killdeers. After crossing a recently-repaired bridge that had been washed out by floods just a few days earlier, we saw a Cooper's Hawk perched in a tree and three Northern Harriers flying low. Tree Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, and Eastern Phoebes were seen at multiple locations. There was nothing at Smith's Pond, where the water was very high, so we proceeded directly to Augusta Springs, which was unusually busy. A flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings was flying around distant tree tops, and some of them came closer. We also had nice views of Pine Warblers, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Eastern Towhees, but the most notable sighting was a small group (four?) of Red-breasted Nuthatches. A White-breasted Nuthatch was also observed, along with White-throated Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows. Another big highlight came near the very end: an early-arriving Hermit Thrush that was hiding in the bushes! After that, some of us went back to Swoope, and around the Boy Scout camp we saw several Palm Warblers, a Swamp Sparrow, a Magnolia Warbler, some Eastern Phoebes, and a probable Eastern Wood Pewee. It was a very good day!

by Andrew Clem

Montage 13 Oct 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Phoebe, Coopers's Hawk, Pine Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Magnolia Warbler, and in center, Cedar Waxwing. In Swoope and Augusta Springs, October 13.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch at Augusta Springs, October 13. (Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Augusta Springs, October 13. (Photo courtesy of David Chernoff.)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo in Swoope, October 13. (Photo courtesy of David Chernoff.)

Birders at Augusta Springs

Birders at Augusta Springs, October 13.


Adventure on the Maury River!

On Saturday, October 6, Stan Heatwole led a group of four Augusta Bird Club members (including Ann Cline, Carolyn Ford, and Andrew Clem) on a canoe / kayak trip along the Maury River. Within minutes of the start, a Bald Eagle was sighted downstream, but it flew out of sight and did not return. Multiple Green Herons and Great Blue Herons were seen at various points along the river, as well as Belted Kingfishers, Eastern Phoebes, Cedar Waxwings, Canada Geese, Mallards, Wood Ducks, and lots of Blue Jays. Several Paw Paw trees were identified along the river bank, and even a Paw Paw fruit (overripe)! The weather was perfect, almost summer-like, and the water was a little high after all the recent rains, but not too turbulent. We hope to do more such river field trips next year.

Maury River Carolyn, Ann

SEE MORE PHOTOS:
>> #1 >> #2 >> #3 >> #4 >> #5

by Andrew Clem


Kestrel!

American Kestrel M

American Kestrel (male), east of Verona, in early October. (Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.)




Spring in South Texas

From April 2-11 of this year, Grant Simmons and the Lawlers (Ed and Nancy) participated in the "Spring in South Texas" birdwatching tour run by Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. The idea was to catch some of the early spring migrants, and to go birding with Nancy and Ed's favorite bird guide, Barry Zimmer. A complete report of their trip will appear in the October issue of the Augusta Bird Club Bulletin. Here are a few of the highlights they saw (and photographed!):

Texas birds 1

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Vermilion Flycatcher, Long-billed Thrasher, Yellow-breasted Chat, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Elf Owl, Altamira Oriole. Photos courtesy of Ed and Nancy Lawler.

Texas birds 2

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Reddish Egret, Franklin's Gulls and Terns, Lesser Nighthawk, Whooping Crane, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and Roseate Spoonbill. Photos courtesy of Ed and Nancy Lawler.


McCormick's Farm field trip

On Wednesday, September 19, nine members of the Augusta Bird Club met at McCormick's Farm to conduct a field trip to this diversified southern most part of Augusta County. We were greeted on the lane to the parking area with Savannah Sparrows, Bluebirds, and Chipping Sparrows. A Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, a Warbling Vireo, along with many immature Phoebes delighted the group. The weather was ideal early on but became quite warm by 10:00 AM. Among the other highlights were: Red-shouldered Hawk, Killdeer, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Brown Thrasher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

by Jo King


Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler, in Staunton, September 17.


Dowell's Draft field trip

On Saturday, September 8, five members of the Augusta Bird Club went on a field trip to Dowell's Draft, where Northern Parulas and Prairie Warblers (presumably breeding) were observed over the summer. The skies were mostly cloudy, and it started to rain once again toward the end of the trip, as the group was visiting nearby Braley Pond. The highlights were Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewees, an Empid flycatcher (Least?), a Pileated Woodpecker, a possible Prairie Warbler (Pine?), several American Goldfinches, and some Worm-eating Warblers. Dowell's Draft lies along the right of way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, and future access to this area is uncertain.

by Andrew Clem

Montage 30 Jun 2018

Blue Grosbeak (male), on Bell's Lane. (July 28, 2018)


"New" birding hot spot: Dowell's Draft

In the course of doing surveys for the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas project (see news items below), on June 30 Andrew Clem "discovered" a birding hot spot that was previously unknown to the local birding community: Dowell's Draft, which is close to Braley Pond and Chimney Hollow, near the village of West Augusta. Near the trail head, an Acadian Flycatcher was singing, along with Ovenbirds and Worm-eating Warblers. At least two Northern Parulas were heard and seen just a bit further along the fire road. The highlight was a singing Prairie Warbler, briefly scuffling with another bird, presumably of the same species. A couple hundred yards after that, another Prairie Warbler was singing, and several Black and White Warblers and American Redstarts were making a racket, probable families in both cases. After a stream crossing, the trail begins a long uphill climb toward the east. Along the way, Scarlet Tanagers and Red-eyed Vireos were seen, and Pine Warblers were heard. At a clearing near the summit of Chestnut Oak Knob were Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhees, and Worm-eating Warblers.

Montage 30 Jun 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Parula, Prairie Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Ovenbird, and in center, Indigo Bunting and Red-bellied Woodpecker. (June 30, 2018)

Dowell's Draft happens to be located in or adjacent to the right of way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, which began to clear a wide swath of trees in western Augusta County this past spring. How this project will affect birds and other wildlife remains to be seen...

A second visit to Dowell's Draft on July 10 yielded multiple Northern Parulas once again, as well as Ovenbirds and Worm-eating Warblers, but no Prairie Warblers.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dowells Draft

The future course of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, in Dowells Draft. (July 10, 2018)

On July 14, Penny Warren, Ann Cline, and Andrew Clem made a follow-up visit to Dowell's Draft, seeing or hearing most of the same birds as before. Most importantly, a singing male Prairie Warbler was photographed, confirming probable breeding activity in that location. Another nice surprise (not previously seen there) was a Black-throated Green Warbler, either female or juvenile. There will probably be a field trip to Dowell's Draft in early September.

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler at Dowell's Draft, July 14, 2018 (Photo courtesy of Ann Cline)

Northern Parula

Northern Parula at Dowell's Draft, July 14, 2018 (Photo courtesy of Ann Cline)

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat along Balsley Road east of Staunton, July 15, 2018 (Photo courtesy of Ann Cline)


Braley Pond field trip

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.

Ed, Jo, Dan, Lisa, John at Braley Pond
Montage 16 Jun 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Northern Parula, Eastern Phoebe, Black-and-white Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Indigo Bunting (F & M). (June 16)




Annual picnic brunch

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.

Picnic brunch group at overlook near HumpbackRocks

SEE MORE PHOTOS:
>> Overlook >> Trail sign >> Food table >> Picnic table 1 >> Picnic table 2 >> Picnic table 3 >> Picnickers

Montage 09 Jun 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Wood Pewee, Cerulean Warbler, Indigo Bunting, American Redstart, Blue-headed Vireo, and in center, Red-tailed Hawk. (June 9)


Highland County field trip

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.

Ann Cline, Andrew Clem, Linda Corwin in Highland County
Montage 06 Jun 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Mourning Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Bobolink, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Least Flycatcher, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler (F) in nest!, and in center, Chestnut-sided Warbler. (June 6)


Swoope field trip

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.

Nancy,Allen,John,Ed,Dan
Montage 02 Jun 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-headed Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Orchard Oriole (1st-yr. male), Willow Flycatcher, Bobolink, Eastern Wood Pewee, Ruby-throated Hummingbird (F) in nest!, American Goldfinch, and in center, Eastern Bluebird. (June 2)


Shenandoah Mountain Trail field trip

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.

ShenandoahMountainTrail_group 2018
Montage 24 May 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Indigo Bunting, Red-tailed Hawk, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Raven, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, and Eastern Wood Pewee. (May 24)


Shenandoah Wetlands Bank field trip

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.

Montage 9 May 2018
Montage 12 May 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Eastern Towhee, Pileated Woodpecker, Willow Flycatcher, and two images of a Veery. (May 12)


Raptorthon 2018

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.

by Vic Laubach

MississippiKite

Mississippi Kite, on May 13. (Courtesy of Vic Laubach.)


Peak spring migration season is here!

If you haven't been outside looking for birds lately, you'd better hurry!

Montage 9 May 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Black-throated Green Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (M & F), Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Red-headed Woodpecker.
(on Betsy Bell Hill, May 9.)

Green Heron

Green Heron (on Bell's Lane, May 7, courtesy of Ann Cline.)

Montage 7 May 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Orchard Orioles (1st-year male and adult male), Scarlet Tanager, Yellow Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Eastern Wood Pewee, and Red-tailed Hawk.
(on Bell's Lane and Betsy Bell Hill, May 7.)


Riverfest 2018

Riverfest 2018 - South River
Riverfest 2018 - Linda Matkins
Riverfest 2018 - Bonnie Hughes

Linda Matkins (upper photo) and Bonnie Hughes (lower photo) were among those helping at the Augusta Bird Club's table during Riverfest, April 28, 2018.


Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager, near Heathsville, VA in early May; courtesy of Ann Cline.

Montage 7 May 2018

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, at Augusta Springs, April 30.


McCormick's Farm field trip

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.

by Jo King

Montage 18 Apr 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Green Heron, American Goldfinch, 3 Brown-headed Cowbirds, Blue-winged Teal, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Osprey.
(At the McCormick's Farm field trip on April 18.).

McCormick's Mill Apr 2018

LEFT TO RIGHT: Mark and Betty Gatewood, Elaine Carwile, Dan Perkuchin, (?), Jo King, and Diane Holsinger, at the McCormick's Mill field trip on April 18.

Ridgeview Park field trip

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.

Montage 14 Apr 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwing, Prairie Warbler, Pied-billed Grebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Osprey, and Brown Thrasher, at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro, April 14.


McCormick's Mill field trip

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."

by Bonnie Hughes

McCormick's Mill group Mar 2018

LEFT TO RIGHT: Peter Van Acker, Mark Gatewood, Mona Welliver, Dan Perkuchin (back), Jo King (front), Barbara Roman, and Tom Trykowski, at the McCormick's Mill field trip on March 28. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Hughes.


Bell's Lane field trip

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.

by Penny Warren

Montage 19 Mar 2018

Photos by Andrew Clem


Short-eared Owl: an intimate portrait

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl, photographed at very close range by Allen Larner on Livick Road in Swoope around noon on March 13. Several other Short-eared Owls continue to be seen in that area, and along Bell's Lane on the northeast side of Staunton.


Birding in Florida

In January, Ann Cline traveled to Florida, where she photographed several very special birds. Here are some of the best photos she took:

American Bittern

American Bittern, at the Viera Wetlands, Florida.

Great Egret, frog

Great Egret enjoying "lunch" at the Viera Wetlands.

Roseate Spoonbills

Roseate Spoonbills in St. Augustine, Florida. (Above photos courtesy of Ann Cline.)


Dinner at Bedlam 12 Feb 2018

Featured speaker John Coiner (at center, along with his wife) were the guests at our pre-meeting dinner on February 12, held at Bedlam Brewing in Staunton.


Owls continue to abound, and astound!

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl, on Bell's Lane, after dusk on Valentine's Day. As many as nine have been seen there at one time!

Barn Owl

Barn Owl, in Waynesboro, in mid-January. Photo courtesy of Vic Laubach.


Rare winter sighting: Baltimore Oriole!

Baltimore Oriole - Jan 2018
Baltimore Oriole - Jan 2018

Baltimore Oriole, in Waynesboro in early Febuary; photos courtesy of Susan Vermeulen Lancaster. According to Allen Larner, it is the eighth winter record for this area.


Madison Run Fire Road field trip

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.

by Andrew Clem

Montage 27 Jan 2018

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: White-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and in center, American Goldfinch.

Madison Run field trippers Jan 2018

LEFT TO RIGHT: Mark Gatewood, Herb Myers, Betty Gatewood, Dan Perkuchin, Jo King, Jean Smith, Stephen Petrowski, and William Leigh.

(Not pictured: Peter Van Acker and Andrew Clem.)


American Kestrel Jan 2018

American Kestrel, near the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, Jan. 23.

ABC bird montage small

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