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On Wednesday, September 13, six members of the Augusta Bird Club met to conduct a field trip to McCormick's Mill in Raphine, Virginia. The morning started with a little drizzle, but became sunny as we were winding up the trip. We also encountered two bus loads of grade school children from one of the Augusta County schools. Needless to say, it was difficult trying to avoid their noisy presence which was all over the trail. Even so, we recorded 32 species. The highlight birds were the Bald Eagle, Scarlet Tanager, and many Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Thank you to all who participated. It was wonderful being out with good people, great birds, and beautiful flowers. See you next month.
On Sunday morning (Sept. 10), the Augusta Bird Club held a field trip along the Greenway in Waynesboro. This is an easy trail which is paved, and it runs from the Waynesboro YMCA for about a mile along the South River. The trail has mixed trees and shrubs with Wild Grape and Virginia Creeper vines. We had a total of 38 species with most being year-round birds. The highlights of the walk were the following migrants: Black Crowned Night Heron (at the Invista Ponds), Killdeer, Chimney Swift, Ruby -throated Hummingbird, Tree Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Gray Catbird, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black & White warbler, American Restart, and Wilson's Warbler.
On Saturday morning (Sept. 9), the Augusta Bird Club held a field trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway & Route 610, with 11 people participating altogether. We identified a total of 32 species, plus 2 others: a probable Cerulean Warbler, and either a Bay-breasted or a Blackpoll Warbler. At one of the overlooks near Afton, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and an Eastern Wood-Pewee were seen, and someone saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Most of the eight warbler species were seen near the communications tower on Route 610, which was very busy. Magnolia, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, and Black-throated Green Warblers were all prominent there. Linda Corwin spotted an unusual-looking bird at that location that turned out to be a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. There was also a yellow Scarlet Tanager: either a female or a juvenile male. In contrast, there wasn't much activity at either the Humpback Rocks visitor center or the nearby trail head, and likewise at the picnic grounds further south. Our final stop was at the Ravens Roost overlook, where we saw a possible young Red-tailed Hawk, a Blue-headed Vireo, a pair of Turkey Vultures, and a couple Dark-eyed Juncos. After that, we headed back north to join the big crowd gathered at the Rockfish Gap hawk watch open house. It was a productive, fun morning with great (although cool) weather. Thanks to everyone who attended and helped us try to keep track of all those birds!
View the checklist online at ebird.org
On June 28 the Augusta Bird Club had a field trip at McCormick's Mill in Raphine, Virginia, with 12 members attending. A total of 41 species were recorded, with a special sighting of a Baltimore Oriole nest with adults attending the nest. Many thanks to Betty Gatewood for locating the nest for us. Lots of excitement seeing the Kingbirds, Phoebes, Cedar Waxwings, and the Wood-Pewees. Thanks to Andrew Clem for his great ears in hearing the Grasshopper Sparrow and then locating the bird for the group. It is always fulfilling to hear Towhees, and Indigo Buntings. And last but not least the Orchard Orioles.
A return trip to Highland County nine days after the June 3 field trip finally yielded a good view of the elusive Golden-winged Warbler:
The Augusta Bird Club's annual late-spring field trip to Highland County led by Allen Larner (on Saturday, June 3) took place under ideal weather conditions, and was well-attended, as usual. We saw nearly all of the "target species" except for Bald Eagles, though we only had brief glimpses of a Golden-winged Warbler and a Mourning Warbler. A full report on the event is being prepared. Here are some of the highlights from the trip:
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.
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.
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. (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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:
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.