Choose a year:
Common Loons (adult on top, juvenile below) on the pond behind Hardee's in Verona, December 30.
Rufous Hummingbird on Morris Mill Rd. north of Swoope, December 22.
This Brown Thrasher (a rarity in winter) was seen during the Bell's Lane field trip on December 21.
Bufflehead (male) on the Chesapeake Bay near Reedville, December 13. Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Loggerhead Shrike in Swoope, December 8; photo courtesy of Vic Laubach.
Rare raptors all around
Peregrine Falcon at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch in November; photo courtesy of Vic Laubach.
Rough-legged Hawk at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch in November; photo courtesy of Baxter Beamer.
Brown Creeper during the Bell's Lane field trip on November 27; photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (female) during the Bell's Lane field trip on November 16.
Evening Grosbeak (male) near Staunton, November 1; photo courtesy of Penny Warren.
North River Gorge ABC field trip
The field trip to the Wild Oak Trail / North River Gorge led by Andrew Clem on November 14th provided great company and lots of nice scenery but relatively few birds. Brief stops at Natural Chimneys and Badger Road on the way back to Staunton yielded a Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Kestrel, and several White-crowned Sparrows.
Fall migration season
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (male) in north Staunton on October 28.
On Monday October 26, seven members of the Augusta Bird Club met up on Bell's Lane for what turned out to be a fabulous morning of birding. In spite of what looked like it could have been the equivalent of the British Moors this morning, the cloud coverage was high enough to have loads of birds and waterfowl. However, lighting conditions weren't so favorable. We met at the kiosk and things were hopping and popping immediately. We headed to the private pond ... with special permission ... and spent the better part of two hours ago in just that location. Highlights were four species of warblers (Black-throated Green, Blackpoll, Palm, Yellow-rumped), tons of waterfowl (Gadwall, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot), Northern Harriers, a castle of Kinglets, etc. I thank those that came out this morning and your contributions to making it a notable birding day!
Blackpoll Warbler, in the Bell's Lane area on October 26; courtesy of Tom Roberts.
This time of year provides unique opportunities to see a mixture of summer and winter birds, as the early arrivals from the north overlap with the latter ones to depart. Our field trip to Augusta Springs and Swoope on October 24 (attended by seven club members) provided many examples of such a mixture, with a Blue-headed Vireo and Eastern Phoebe (summer birds), as well as Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Hermit Thrushes (winter birds). Later, some of the members went to Swoope, where three juvenile Bald Eagles, Palm Warblers, Swamp Sparrows, and other less common birds were seen.
This male Red-bellied Woodpecker (presumably defending his own territory) chased away the intruding Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (also male) that recently arrived from its northern breeding grounds. This was at Augusta Springs during the ABC field trip on October 24.
Barred Owl, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond on October 22; photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Tennessee Warbler, October 19; photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Nashville Warbler, October 11; photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Yellow-rumped Warbler on Country Club Road (Bell's Lane extended), October 8.
Fall is definitely here
If you had any doubt about the change of season, the recent cold snap should convince you that fall has arrived. Will that mean the migrating birds will be in a hurry to get to their tropical wintering grounds? You never know what surprises you'll find. Time's a-wastin'!
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female or juvenile), seen at the Augusta Bird Club field trip to Ramsey's Draft on September 27; photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Scarlet Tanager (female or juvenile) on Bell's Lane, where this species is hardly ever seen; photo taken September 15.
Cape May Warbler (male), seen at the Augusta Bird Club field trip to Augusta Springs on September 5; photo courtesy of Tom Roberts.
Summer turns to fall?
Human beings (at least those in the northern hemisphere) regard August as the climax of the summer season, but many bird species such as sandpipers and other shorebirds are already beginning to migrate south. Casual birders should also keep an eye out for Great Egrets, Glossy Ibises, and other wading birds that tend to wander outside their breeding range this time of year.
Acadian Flycatcher, along the North River Gorge trail; photo taken July 12.
Spring turns to summer
As the month of June heads to a close, the peak of breeding season is about to pass for most bird species. Some of the resident (non-migratory) species raise more than one clutch of eggs each year, and others such as American Goldfinches begin their breeding in mid-summer because they rely on thistle fibers to build their nests, and thistle plants do not mature until late June or July. Here are some of the recent photographic highlights taken by our members:
This juvenile Eastern Screech Owl was part of a family that was seen in the north part of Staunton this month; photo taken June 20.
Orchard Oriole (male); photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Chestnut-sided Warbler (male) with a tasty morsel at the Crimora Lake overlook in the Shenandoah National Park; photo taken June 1.
Blue-winged Warbler (male) at Augusta Wetlands; photo courtesy of Vic Laubach.
Broad-winged Hawk, on the day of "Raptorthon" (May 7); photo courtesy of Vic Laubach.
Another rare bird: Western Tanager
For the second time this year, a rare bird has made an appearance in Augusta County. In February it was a Scott's Oriole and this time it's a Western Tanager, apparently a first-year male. Several Augusta Bird Club members were invited to view the bird, which was frequenting a rural neighborhood south of Staunton for a few weeks. There are two previous records of this species in our area: March 2004 in Staunton and May 2015 in Stuarts Draft.
Western Tanager, south of Staunton in late April. Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Socially distant birding
Due to the coronavirus emergency, no organized birding events are taking place until at least June 10. Nevertheless, individual birders, pairs, and trios having been heading outdoors to keep track of the spring migration season.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male), north of Staunton in early May. Courtesy of Larry Litke.
Red-headed Woodpecker; in Ridgeview Park on May 7.
Barred Owl, in the "Warbler Road" area east of Buchanan, VA in late April. Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Rare bird visits Augusta County
From February 14 until March 23 an immature male Scott's Oriole visited a residential property in the Swoope area of Augusta County. It was the first state record of this species in Virginia! Further details will appear in the April Augusta Bird Club bulletin.
Spring is here!
Tree Swallow (male) on Bell's Lane, March 9.
Wild about vultures
On March 9 Katie Fallon spoke to a packed meeting about her recently-published book, Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird. It was her second such visit here. In October 2013 she gave a presentation about Cerulean Warblers.
Raptors all around!
As these photos indicate, raptors are more conspicuous in this region during the winter months.
Bald Eagle (juvenile: first-year?), north of Staunton, January 19. Photo courtesy of Larry Litke.
Short-eared Owl, at Bell's Lane, mid-January. Photo courtesy of Larry Litke.
Short-eared Owl, at Bell's Lane on January 7. Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Northern Harrier (female or first-year), at Bell's Lane on January 7. Photo courtesy of Ann Cline.
Northern Harrier (adult male). Photo courtesy of Vic Laubach.
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