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In spite of frigid temperatures, eight hardy birders showed up on the morning of January 26th for a field trip to the Mill Place trail. Highlights included Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Harrier, Savannah Sparrow, and American Kestrel. At the big (unfrozen) pond behind Hardee's there were several Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, and two Great Blue Herons, plus the usual Canada Geese and Mallards.
On January 6th four members of the Augusta Bird Club made their annual winter trek to Highland County to seek out the Golden Eagle as well as wintering Finches. The temps started out at 30 degrees but quickly warmed up to 54 with sunshine. Our first stop was the feeders in McDowell which was a bust: only Goldfinch, Junco, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Savannah Sparrow. Next we went to the town of Bluegrass, and on the west side of Snowy Mountain we had three Golden Eagle flying high. In the lowlands just south of Snowy Mountain we had a great view of a juvenile Golden Eagle flying low with two Red-tailed Hawks dive-bombing it. Our search for the Loggerhead Shrike on Dug Bank Road did not pan out, probably because it was a bit windy. Most of the birds were hunkered down yesterday, and we missed several target species in Highland County.
Next we headed south on Route 220, and once in Bath County we had a few ducks on the farm pond to the left: Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, and 44 Common Merganser, Kingfisher, and Bald Eagle. On the way to Lake Moomaw, we had Black-capped Chickadee, Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, Junco, and Song Sparrow. The biggest treat was seeing at least eight Eastern Reddish Bats flying around. At Lake Moomaw we had Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Mallard, and Bufflehead. All in all we ended the trip with about 40 species of birds.