Gleanings from the Web
By: Gene Sattler
Birders are among those who have taken advantage of the advent of rapid communication on the Internet via discussion groups. In addition to general discussion forums such as BIRDCHAT, listservs have sprung up to allow the rapid dissemination of information on bird sightings, both rare and not so rare. These listservs range from those covering broad regions such as the eastern U.S. to those confined to a particular state or smaller area.
The value of such listservs is that they give a fairly comprehensive view of day by day changes to a region’s birdlife as they unfold. Not every birder is plugged into the Internet, however, and not everyone with such access has the time to take advantage of it. In this column I will provide a synopsis of some of the more significant bird reports off the VA-BIRDS listserv, spanning the approximately three-month period since the preceding newsletter. Inclusion in this column does not necessarily imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM, the VSO's Records Committee, or verified in any other way. Nor does exclusion of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not a noteworthy one. I may have merely overlooked it, or its significance.
This month’s summary covers reports to VA-BIRDS for the period from May 24 th to August 23 rd. Individuals interested in information on how to subscribe to this listserv can contact Gene Sattler (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ongoing range expansions accounted for some of the more unusual reports this summer. After last summer's confirmed nesting of the state's 218 th breeding species, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a male showed up again at the same Culpepper County site by May 5 th and was seen there through at least July 4 th. However, no female was ever seen at the site this year. A few additional sightings of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were also made over the summer. One was a third-hand report off Route 460 between Farmville and Amelia, while the other was along Route 24 in Campbell County (the latter not reported on VA-BIRDS).
Numerous sightings of Mississippi Kites were made this summer, also reflecting a range expansion (the first nesting in Virginia was confirmed in Woodbridge, Prince William County in 1996). Sightings made were of a pair at Huntley Meadows (Fairfax County) through at least the last week of May, one near the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (ESVNWR) in Northampton County May 28 th, another the same day near the original nesting site in Woodbridge, one in Arlington on May 31 st, separate sightings on June 3 rd at Great Falls N. P. (Fairfax County) and in Buckingham County, 50 miles west of Richmond (possibly a county record there), one in Alexandria on July 14 th, another on the 15 th in Fairfax County along the George Washington Parkway, one in Hanover County north or Richmond on August 3 rd, and two in Chesapeake on August 15 th. Even more unusual were two reports of Swallow-tailed Kites, one on May 26 th in southern Northampton County on the Eastern Shore and the other on June 7 th in Lancaster County at the end of the Northern Neck.
A Eurasian Collared-Dove was seen in southern Northampton County on the Eastern Shore both August 7 th and 23 rd. At least one pair has been seen in this area, where the state's second sighting was made January 31 st. This species, also undergoing a range expansion, was first found in the state in Sterling, Loudoun County, in June of 2000, and was relocated there this March.
The Lynchburg Bird Club's annual Breeding Bird Count, held June 9 th, turned up a Least Bittern, and the Augusta Bird Club's Breeding Bird Count on June 16 th found several Yellow-rumped Warblers on Elliott Knob, where they are suspected of breeding. Two Lark Sparrows seen during the period, one in Appomattox County on June 2 nd and another at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Accomack County on August 21 st. Members of the Bristol Bird Club hiked the Appalachian Trail on Whitetop Mountain in Washington County on June 10 th, finding some unusual breeding species including a Hermit Thrush, a Saw-whet Owl, and unusually high numbers of Black-capped Chickadees. And on June 25 th five Anhingas were seen soaring over the southern Eastern Shore, while one was seen on Stumpy Lake in Virginia Beach June 19 th and August 15 th.
The remaining sightings of interest are of species wandering outside their breeding range. A White-faced Ibis was at the ESVNWR May 28 th, and an immature Northern Gannet was on Onanock Creek in Accomack County July 5 th. Among unusual shorebirds were a Curlew Sandpiper seen at Chincoteague NWR August 16-21 and a very early (or late?) Purple Sandpiper(s) on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnels August 20 th and 23 rd. Finally, a Cave Swallow visited Cape Charles in Northampton County on June 5th.
This month’s summary covers reports to VA-BIRDS for the period from August 23 rd to November 20 th. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO webpage. Inclusion in this column does not imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does exclusion of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not noteworthy.
Among the more exciting western strays this fall was an Elegant Tern seen at Chincoteague NWR in Accomack County on both September 5 th and 7 th, just before the VSO trip there. If the record is accepted it will constitute the second state record of this western species. The previous record is also for Chincoteague, in June of 1985.
Western Tanagers showed up in Henrico County and in Norfolk on October 9 th and 22 nd respectively, while at Chincoteague an unusual tanager was reported on September 15 th that had mixed characteristics of both Western and Flame-colored Tanager. It was speculated that it could have been a hybrid of the two, but was not reported again. Two Northern Flickers were reported on the Eastern Shore in mid October, one as a dead specimen; both were hybrids of the western and eastern forms. Western Kingbirds were seen both at the Culpeper/Faquier County line and on Fisherman's Island in Northampton County on October 10 th and 12 th respectively. Multiple apparent Cave Swallows were sighted at Kiptopeke on October 15 th.
Beginning October 1 st and continuing through the period one to two Greater White-fronted Geese were reported frequently from Fauquier County on farm ponds there, as well as two other birds that were apparently White-fronted x Canada Goose hybrids. Single Selaphorus hummingbirds were reported in Bristol (beginning October 1 st), Virginia Beach (November 12 th), and Chesterfield County (also November 12 th). A Sandhill Crane was sighted at Kiptopeke on October 29 th, and from one to four Buff-breasted Sandpipers at a Loudoun County sod farm cooperated by staying around for a week, from August 31 st to September 6 th. A Clay-colored Sparrow was seen at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (ESVNWR) in Northampton County October 28 th, a LeConte's Sparrow was found at Sky Meadows State Park in Fauquier County on October 20-21 st, and a Dickcissel frequented a feeder in Rockingham County beginning November 6 th.
The season so far has been a good one for boreal seed-eating species. Two Red-breasted Nuthatches at the Harvey's Knob hawkwatch on August 18 th were early, and the species has been reported widely since. Likewise, reports of Purple Finches and Pine Siskins have been numerous, with the first report of a Pine Siskin coming from Prince William County on October 1 st. An unspecified number of Evening Grosbeaks in one flock were reported from Rockfish Gap on October 3 rd, and the highest number reported during the period was of 16 at a regular feeder location in Monterey, Highland County on October 31 st. Additional sightings made were of three at Lake Mercer in Fairfax County on October 30 th, ten in Grundy, Buchanan County on October 31 st, eleven at Snickers Gap and two at Kiptopeke, both on November 2 nd, and one in Alexandria and another at Sky Meadows State Park in Fauquier County, both on November 11 th. Both crossbills have also made appearances in the state, with one Red Crossbill seen at Kiptopeke on October 30 th and another two at Rockfish Gap on November 4 th. And a single White-winged Crossbillvisited a feeder in Rockingham County for three days between October 26 th and 28 th.
Significant sightings of northerly waterbirds have included one Common Eider at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on October 29 th, two Long-tailed Ducks at Lake Anna on the Louisa/Spotsylvania County line and another at a pond in Fauquier County, both on November 11 th, a Surf Scoter at Sandy River Reservoir in Prince Edward County on November 13 th, an immature Great Cormorant at Beaverdam Reservoir in Loudoun County on November 19 th, and the flyby of a flock of Tundra Swans in Culpeper County on November 20 th. The Great Cormorant sighting may be the first Piedmont record if accepted. Also noteworthy in numbers, an estimated 1660 Double-crested Cormorants passed Harvey's Knob in one hour on October 27 th.
Among raptors, an immature Mississippi Kite was tallied at the Kiptopeke hawkwatch on August 25 th, and Harvey's Knob also had an immature on September 5 th, the fourth or fifth record for that site. A Swainson's Hawk was seen at Kiptopeke on October 28 th, and a Rough-legged Hawk at Rockfish Gap on October 6 th was only their fifth record in the lookout's history; one was also counted at Snickers Gap on October 28 th.
While not an invasion year for Saw-whet Owls, banders have none-the-less netted numbers well above average. In the vicinity of Kiptopeke State Park and the ESVNWR, a project sponsored by the College of William and Mary's Center for Conservation Biology had banded 238 Saw-whets as of November 19 th, the third highest total in the eight-year history of the project. And in western Rockingham County, a project under Clair Mellinger of Eastern Mennonite University began collecting the first extensive data on the Saw-whet Owl migration in the Mountain and Valley Province, netting 222 Saw-whets between October 30 th and November 20 th. A Saw-whet was also heard calling on Shenandoah Mountain in Augusta County on October 6 th, constituting the first fall record for that county, and a road-killed bird was found in Fauquier County on November 18 th. Long-eared Owls have yet to be reported this season, but at Harvey's Knob a Short-eared Owl was counted as it passed the lookout late on the 28 th of October.
Finally, A Kirtland's Warbler was reported from a backyard in Grundy, Virginia in Buchanan County on September 3 rd, and a pelagic trip out of Virginia Beach on September 23 rd located a much sought-after White-faced Petrel, after not having been reported in Virginia waters in ten years.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from November 19 th to January 25 th. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.vabirds.org). Inclusion in this column does not imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does exclusion of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not noteworthy.
While not a fabulous winter for northern finches, this season has offered considerably more than last. The most unusual was a single Common Redpoll that visited a feeder at Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax Co. (1/22). Single Snow Buntings showed up both at Whitetop Mountain in Grayson Co. (12/2) and in the Williamsburg area (1/9-1/25). And Evening Grosbeaks were found in Prince William Co. (5 on 11/19), at Whitetop Gap near Whitetop Mountain (2 on 12/8), in Hanover Co. near Richmond (a large flock on 1/4), and in Konnarock near Whitetop Mountain (11 on 1/9). There have also been more crossbill reports than last winter. As is typical, Red Crossbills have been more frequent, with a flock at Chincoteague NWR (11/29) and an unspecified number at Kiptopeke (late November), three in Rockingham Co. (12/22), and a single fly by in Orange Co. (1/4). White-winged Crossbills were reported only from the Eastern Shore , with twelve at Chincoteague NWR (11/25) and an unspecified number at Kiptopeke in late November. Finally, reports of Purple Finches and Pine Siskins have declined since the numerous sightings in October and early November, but these species are still being seen relatively widely.
Turning to waterbirds, this winter is offering many unusual sightings for those living near the Chesapeake Bay or able to make a trip there, with gulls leading the flock. A Sabine’s Gull seen at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) during the VSO’s trip to the Virginia Beach area was one of the earlier and more noteworthy sightings (12/9), having been blown in by strong winds. Also reported at the CBBT in December was a Thayer’s Gull (12/25, 1/4), a possible Yellow-legged Gull (12/24), a Common Gull (Eurasian race as opposed to western or Mew Gull race, on 12/26), a Black-headed Gull (12/29,31), Iceland Gull (12/26, 28 as well as one in Accomack Co. 12/15), Black-legged Kittiwakes (3 on 12/9 and 1 on 12/22, as well as two on the Newport News CBC on 12/15), and Little Gulls (3 on 12/26 in addition to one at Chincoteague NWR on 12/25). Lesser Black-backed Gulls were found widely and often in significant numbers, beginning with an estimated 30 at the CBBT on 12/26, and including numerous other sightings of this species. Also near the bay was a Franklin Gull on the Newport News count (12/15). And inland at the Prince William Co. landfill, both Glaucous Gull (2 on 12/31 and 1 on 1/23) and Glaucous-winged Gull (12/31) were reported. The later species has yet to be substantiated as occurring in Virginia.
Loons, grebes, and waterfowl have likewise made for an interesting winter thus far. Very noteworthy was a Pacific Loon found at Virginia Beach just prior to the VSO trip there (11/30), as well as a Clark’s Grebe reported in that area on two separate occasions (12/18, 12/31). Not as remarkable but still significant have been sightings of Red-necked Grebe at the CBBT (12/9), on the Newport News count (12/15), and on the Back Bay count (12/29). Among geese of interest have been Ross’ Goose at three separate locations: Northampton Co. (12/8), Chincoteague NWR (12/9,25), and on the Hopewell count near Richmond (12/16). A Barnacle Goose first seen at Dyke Marsh in Fairfax Co. (1/6) and then present in the greater Alexandria area through the rest of the period is considered to possibly be a wild bird and not an escaped captive, and a Greater White-fronted Goose has been seen in both Fauquier Co. (12/16, 1/25) and Northampton Co. (12/30,31). Significant when seen inland have been Snow Geese in Botetourt Co. (4 on 12/8), Rockingham Co. (4 on 12/31), and Russell Co. (17 on 12/31). And considering ducks, theHarlequin Duck is always sought after, and has been regular at the CBBT (12/11, 12/25-31), as well as having been found on the Back Bay count (12/29). A Common Eider was seen at Chincoteague NWR (11/23-24, 30), and a Eurasian Wigeon was found on a count in Fauquier Co. (12/16). Finally, a Black Scoter was seen in Augusta Co. (12/8); this is a first record for the county and one of only a handful of records for the mountain and valley region.
The relatively mild weather, especially during Christmas Count time, led to a number of reports of lingering passerine migrants, especially near the coast, as expected. Among the warblers found were a Yellow-throated Warbler in Prince William Co. (11/24) and Chesterfield Co. (1/14), a Nashville Warbler in Northampton Co. (12/30 and 1/12), and a Yellow Warbler both at Kerr Reservoir (11/23 and 1/1) and in Alexandria (12/15). Away from the coast, other significant findings were of a House Wren and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Danville (12/5), a Lincoln’s Sparrow both in Prince William Co. (12/22) and at a feeder in Winchester (12/25), and a Henslow’s Sparrow in Fauquier Co. (12/16).
A few western vagrants have also been seen. A Clay-colored Sparrow has cooperated for birders by lingering at a powerline cut near Manassas Battlefield National Park since being found on a count December 22 nd. A Brewer’s Blackbird was found both in Blacksburg (11/29) and in Northampton Co. (12/8-9), while two adult Yellow-headed Blackbirds (male and female) were seen in Culpeper Co. (12/17), with another adult male in Northampton Co. (1/13). And hummingbirds of the genus Selaphorus have made a strong showing throughout Virginia this winter as more birders leave feeders up. All those banded thus far have proven to be Rufous Hummingbirds, and inmost cases birds are staying put and will stay at the same location throughout the winter. Individuals have been found at three separate locations in Williamsburg (all banded 1/22), at two locations in Chesterfield Co. (banded 11/29), in Fairfax Co. (beginning 12/1), at two locations in Loudoun Co. (one since mid October and the other banded 12/30), and finally one here in Lynchburg since December 6 th. Another hummingbird, possibly a Selaphorus also, was seen at Dyke Marsh in Fairfax Co. on the D.C. count (12/16), and a hummingbird of the genus Archilochus, either a late Ruby-throated, or a western vagrant, was present in Chesterfield Co. as of 11/25.
Snowy Owls have again made it to Virginia this winter. Two early sightings were at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (12/3) and at the Merrimac-Monitor Bridge in the Hampton Roads area (12/6), with a later sighting at Craney Island in Portsmouth (1/9 through the period). Searches for wintering Saw-whet Owls proved successful on counts in both Fauquier and Halifax Counties (both on 12/16). (As a note of correction to the last edition of “Gleanings”, Clair Mellinger this fall banded 122 Saw-whet Owls in Rockingham County , not the 222 reported previously). ALong-eared Owl was found on a count in Prince William Co. (12/22), and as usual Short-eared Owls were an easier species to find as they emerged at dusk to hunt fields at Chincoteague NWR (11/23), in Fauquier Co. (12/2), Culpeper Co. (12/6), Fairfax Co. (two individuals 1/8) and near Staunton (1/20). A Golden Eagle was seen passing Snicker’s Gap on the Clarke/Loudoun County line (11/26), while another was found on the Shenandoah NP count in Page County (12/16). Seven sightings of Peregrines and nine of Merlins were made in the last two months. Most of these were made on or near the coast, but the sighting of a Merlin on the Lynchburg count was the most inland of these sightings.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the four month period from January 25 th to May 31 st. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.vabirds.org). Inclusion in this column does not imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does exclusion of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not noteworthy.
We'll start by concluding the winter's highlights. Evening Grosbeaks were reported regularly from Highland Co. at feeders in McDowell and Monterey (1/30-4/14), with a maximum of 30 in McDowell (1/30) and about 100 in Monterey (4/4). A single individual was also found in the western extremes of the state in Grundy, Buchanan Co. (4/17). Only two sightings of Red Crossbillswere reported, 18 in Wythe Co. (1/31) and six at Manassas National Battlefield Park in Prince William Co. (3/31). A single Common Redpoll was reported on 2/10, a female in Chesterfield Co. that had been present for several days. A Snow Bunting reported earlier this winter in the Williamsburg area was joined by a second individual on 2/13, and one was seen at Craney Island on 1/3. Two Lapland Longspurs were also seen at Craney Island , on 2/16.
Birds of a western flavor included a male Bullock's Oriole that frequented a feeder in Vienna beginning at least 3/16 through 3/29. There have been very few sightings of this species in the state, and this will likely be the first well-documented one. An immature Harris' Sparrow visited another feeder near Weyer's Cave, Augusta Co. from 4/10-20. One female Brewer's Blackbird was in Richmond Co. on the Northern Neck 3/10, and a Clay-colored Sparrow first seen at Manassas National Battlefield Park on 1/20 remained through 2/16. Several of the Selaphorushummingbirds reported earlier here remained through the winter, and there was a report of a new bird in Hampton 2/6.
Among unusual winter gulls, there was a Thayer's Gull at the Prince William Co. landfill (2/3), and single California Gulls at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) (2/10), the Prince William Co. landfill (2/16 and 3/24), and at Belle Haven/Hunting Creek in Fairfax Co. (2/21-24). Single Iceland Gulls were seen at the Prince William Co. landfill (2/3, 9, 16, 23) and at the CBBT (3/2), while single Glaucous Gulls were at the Prince William Co. landfill (2/5, 9, 25), and at Neabasco Creek, also in Prince William Co. (3/2, 22). Also, Lesser Black-backed Gullscontinued to be numerous.
In the waterfowl realm, the Barnacle Goose that first showed up at Dyke Marsh in Fairfax Co. 1/9 was seen, mainly in Alexandria , in the company of Canada Geese, through 2/24. One Greater White-fronted Goose was reported from a farm pond in Fauquier Co. 1/25, and a Pacific Loon was apparently at Cape Charles on 3/16, detected by the characteristic call heard (one had been seen at Virginia Beach 11/30 just before the VSO field trip there). Single Harlequin Ducks were reported from the CBBT (1/26, 2/3, 10, 3/2, 9, 14), as were Long-tailed Ducks (formerly Oldsquaw) (1/26, 2/3, 10, 3/9; maximum of three). Common Eiders were seen both at Virginia Beach (two on 2/10) and the CBBT (two on 3/2, 9, 14, 4/5), and a single female King Eider was also at the CBBT (4/13-15). Single Eurasian Wigeons were seen at four locations: Henricus/Dutch Gap Park in Chesterfield Co. (1/27), a pond in Virginia Beach (2/4-3/23), a pond in Fauquier Co. (3/11-12), and at Stumpy Lake in Virginia Beach (3/21).
Winter raptor reports have been numerous. The most unusual were Northern Goshawks in Bath Co. (2/2) and in Reston (4/19) and Snowy Owls at Craney Island (1/28-2/15) and Chincoteague NWR (4/3). There were four Merlin sightings (2/9 at Saxis Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Accomack Co., 3/20 in Vienna , 4/21 in northern Virginia , and 4/26 at Willis Wharf in Northampton Co.) and two Peregrine Falcon sightings (2/2 at Chincoteague NWR and 2/9 at Saxis WMA). Both Rough-legged Hawks and Golden Eagles were seen frequently in Bath/Highland Co., with a maximum of four Rough-leggeds on 2/22 and six Goldens on 2/23). Other Rough-legged Hawks were seen in Russell Co. (2/10), Tazwell Co. (2/16), Huntley Meadows (3/23), and Occoquan Bay NWR, Prince William Co. (3/27), and other Golden Eagles were reported in Wythe Co. (two on 1/31), Montgomery Co. (2/4), Fauquier Co. (2/8), Russell Co. (two on 2/10, 17), Fairfax Co. (2/17), and Tazwell Co. (two on 2/16, 23). Short-eared Owls were at their regular field on Bull Run Post Office Road in Fairfax Co. (maximum of two, 1/27-2/18), as well as in Augusta Co. (two on 3/11).
Finally, unusual wintering passerine reports included two noteworthy Yellow Warblers, one at Hunting Creek, Fairfax Co. (1/26-28) and another at Stanton River State Park, Mecklenburg Co. that same weekend, seen there previously 11/23. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Danville on 1/31 was also seen earlier in the winter (12/5). Orange-crowned Warblers were found both at Craney Island (1/28) and at a feeder in Richmond (3/28-29), and a Yellow-breasted Chat was at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR (ESVNWR) in Northampton Co. (3/11).
Now we turn to the spring's highlights. A Swallow-tailed Kite was found at Gloucester Point in Gloucester Co. (5/15), and Mississippi Kites continue to stage an expansion north with the following sightings: James City Co. (4/18), Arlington (5/1), near the ESVNWR (5/11), Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. (up to two from 5/13 through the period), Augusta Co. (5/26), and a total of six in Brunswick, Greensville and Southampton Cos. (5/27). Staying on the theme of northward expansions, Anhingas continue to be seen with increasing frequency and in greater numbers. Most significant were four males and three females soaring over Stumpy Lake in Virginia Beach on 5/7, following sightings of a pair on 4/8 and a single bird on 4/14. But other recent sightings of single birds have also occurred at Chincoteague NWR (4/26), Curles Neck Farm during the VSO annual meeting (4/27), east Loudoun County (5/17), Greensville Co. (5/27), and the Southampton/Isle of Wight Co. line (5/27). And in Northampton County where Eurasian Collard-Doves have been present since January 2001, a bird was observed nest building just south of Rt 600 and 645 on 5/7. In addition, a bird was seen at a feeder at a new location in the state in Chesapeake on 5/30.
A Pomarine Jaeger seen anywhere on the Coastal Plain would be noteworthy, but a flyby at Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenberg on 5/27 was quite a sight. So, too, was the male Magnificent Frigatebird reported from Isle of Wight Co. on 5/20. A probable Sooty Shearwater was seen at Chincoteague NWR on 5/24, and five additional birds were seen off Metompkin Island in Accomack Co. 5/29. At Chincoteague NWR on 5/19 an adult White-faced Ibis was found in a flock of Glossy Ibises, and at Back Bay NWR eleven adult White Ibises were present 4/28. SingleGreat Cormorants were seen twice on the CBBT 4/26 and 5/1, and a Sandhill Crane was observed landing just NE of Richmond in Hanover Co. on 4/28. Noteworthy shorebird sightings this spring have included up to two Upland Sandpipers near Remington in Fauquier Co. (5/6-12), including an observation of copulation, three Baird's Sandpipers at ESVNWR on 4/26, and on the Piedmont, a flock of eleven Sanderlings as flybys at Kerr Reservoir. Also worth noting on the Piedmont were the following. A Least Bittern was seen at a farm pond in Fauquier Co. both 5/9 and 5/12. Two or more birds were also at Henricus Park in Chesterfield Co., nearly on the Piedmont , 5/28, one of which was nest building. And a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was seen in Lynchburg on 5/20. Finally, two Caspian Terns were seen near Verona in Augusta Co. on 4/22, 25, American Avocets were found in Augusta Co. that same day, and a Black Tern was seen on Lake Pelham in Culpeper Co. on 5/23. And not reported on VA-Birds, but worth mentioning, were two Black Terns, one Forester's Tern, and four Caspian Terns, all on Lake Moomaw 5/18.
Concluding the spring wrap up, sightings of rarer passerine migrants included the following reports: Olive-sided Flycatcher at Huntley Meadows (4/23), singing Alder Flycatcher at Phelps WMA, Fauquier Co. (5/22), singing Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at both Dyke Marsh (5/20) and Phelps WMA (5/22), Philadelphia Vireo in east Loudoun Co. (5/17), Alexandria (5/20), Phelps WMA (5/22), and Prince William Co. (5/22), Mourning Warbler near Warrenton, Fauquier Co. (5/16), in Alexandria (5/19-23), Annandale (5/21), Leesylvania S.P. in Prince William Co. (5/25), and at Dyke Marsh (5/26), and an adult male Yellow-headed Blackbird in Charlottesville (5/14).
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from June 1 st to August 27 th. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.vabirds.org). Inclusion in this column does not imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy.
Only a single sighting of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has been reported this summer, at Manassas National Battlefield Park in Prince William Co. (6/9). There have been a number of reports ofMississippi Kites, however, although fewer than last summer. Most have been sighted in Greensville, Brunswick , and Southampton Counties , with the high count being between 10-18 in one day, and dates ranging from 6/10 to 7/20. There was also a Swallow-tailed Kite present in western Fauquier Co. from about 8/1 to 8/11. Other notable raptor sightings included a single Merlin at Cape Charles, Northampton Co. (6/11), a Peregrine at Chincoteague NWR., Accomack Co. (7/28), and an immature Golden Eagle in Highland Co. (weekend of 7/6).
A Gray Kingbird put in a brief appearance in southern Northampton Co. (6/2), and Eurasian Collared-Doves showed up there as well, with four individuals seen at three locations on 8/18. A single individual was also seen in Fauquier Co. a week earlier (8/12). Also in Fauquier Co., Dickcissels were found at two locations (6/15, 22), with at least three individuals at one spot, and up to 6-10 individuals were present in Culpeper Co. (6/16-7/27). After a number of searches, a Bachman's Sparrow was located in southeast Brunswick Co. (6/29), and four Henslow's Sparrows were found on the grounds of the Radford Arsenal, Pulaski Co. (7/1). A Selaphorushummingbird was present at a feeder at Kiptopeke S.P in Northampton Co. on 8/26, a Swainson's Warbler was heard on the Greensville/Southampton Co. line 6/29, and a Black-billed Cuckoo was noted at Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. on 8/22.
Expeditions to the higher elevations of the state produced many of the expected species, but a flock of approximately 50-60 Red Crossbills on 6/8 was a real treat. Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen in Highland Co. both the weekend of 6/1&2 (one) and between 7/4-7 (five), but evidence of breeding has yet to be found. Magnolia Warblers were found to have increased considerable in numbers over recent years at the lower elevation of Mount Rogers at the Grindstone campground (weekend of 6/29-30), and Mourning Warblers were found reliably in Highland County at Paddy Knob (7/4-7), as well as an individual at Locust Springs (6/8 or 9). Winter Wrens, Hermit Thrushes, and Purple Finches were all seen both in Highland County (7/4-7) and at Mount Rogers (6/29-30), and singing Brown Creepers were at both Mount Rogers (6/29-30) and Shenandoah National Park along the Limberlost Trail (6/1). Among Flycatchers, there were at least three Aldersat the base of Whitetop Mountain (7/1) as well as one at Mount Rogers (6/29-30), an Olive-sided at Paddy Knob in Highland Co. (7/4-7) as well as one in Fairfax Co. (6/7), and several Leasts in Highland Co. along with one at Whitetop Station (6/29-30). Finally, a single female Evening Grosbeak at a feeder in Annandale was certainly out of place for this time of year.
Turning now to waterbirds, five Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were flybys along the Nansemond River in Suffolk Co. on 8/11. A female King Eider was at Chincoteague NWR. from 6/19-21, and a Tundra Swan on the Potomac River in Arlington on 8/14 showed no obvious evidence of being an escapee. An adult Pied-billed Grebe was seen with three young at Hog Island, Surry Co. (7/14), and a pair of Ring-necked Ducks were found at a pond in Fauquier Co. on both 6/22 and 7/13.
A Red-necked Stint was reported from Craney Island in Portsmouth (8/17), and an adult Curlew Sandpiper was spotted at Chincoteague NWR. (7/28). Breeding by Upland Sandpipers in Fauquier Co. was confirmed with the observation of young (7/14), and eight individuals were seen there on 7/20. Another three birds were at Hog Island, Surry Co on 8/24, with one earlier on 8/18. Reports of Wilson's Phalaropes came from both Chincoteague NWR. (two different indivduals on 8/7 and 8/11) and Hunting Creek, Fairfax Co. (two on 8/17 and 4 on 8/22), single juvenileBaird's Sandpipers were noted at both Cape Charles, Northampton Co. (8/15-16) and Loudoun Co. (8/19), and American Avocets were located both at Huntley Meadows in Fairfax Co. (one on 6/30) and at Cape Charles, Northampton Co. (two on 8/27).
Anhingas continue to be present in the southeast, with three seen in Greensville and Southampton Counties on 6/29. Inland on the Piedmont a Sandhill Crane at Swoope in Augusta Co. was a nice find (7/23-28), and a Glossy Ibis at Staunton River State Park in Halifax Co. (8/18) was also noteworthy. Going to the most westerly reaches of the state, a Great White Heron on 8/7, and twoBlack Terns and four Bonaparte's Gulls on 8/13, all at South Holston Lake in Washington Co., were significant finds.
Turning finally back to the coast, the environs of the Potomac , and just inland from there, a King Rail was present at a farm pond near Manassas Battlefield National Park, Prince William Co. 8/21-25, and a Black Rail was at Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. from 6/10 through the 7/4. A White-faced Ibis stayed two days at Chincoteague NWR. 6/1-2, and White Ibises were seen at both Manassas Battlefield National Park (one juvenile 6/28 and 7/1) and at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Northampton Co. (two adults and two juveniles 7/28). Finally, Least Bittern sightings away from the coast included at least one at Henricus Park in Chesterfield Co. on 6/6 where nest building was observed 5/28, with an immature seen there 7/6, a total of eleven at Dyke Marsh on 7/15 including three immatures at two locations, and one at Neabsco Creek in Prince William Co.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from August 28 th to October 19 th. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.vabirds.org). Inclusion in this column does not imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy.
Best bird of the period would probably have to be the one that would establish a new state record. An immature Heerman's Gull, normally found on the west coast, was extensively documented at Craney Island in Virginia Beach City on 8/30-31. There are only a handful of records for the entire East. A White-winged Tern , a native of Europe and Asia , was seen by many at Chincoteague NWR between 9/6-9, and what could have been a Little Curlew as seen as a flyby at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) on 9/24. This species breeds in Siberia and winters in Australia .
Continuing with waterbirds, four Eared Grebes, a western resident, were at South Holston Lake in Washington Co. on 9/14, and a Common Moorhen was present at Dyke Marsh in Fairfax Co. from 9/18-21. A Great White Heron, a color phase of the Great Blue Heron normally found in south Florida, was vacationing in Prince Edward County at Briery Creek Lake Wildlife Management Area from 9/4 to at least mid October, and single Sandhill Cranes flew past the Kiptopeke Hawk Watch on 10/8 and 10/13. There were 15 White Ibises at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR the weekend of 9/19-21, and two White Pelicans showed up inland a little at Belle Haven in Alexandria from 10/9-13. A Barnacle Goose was at Lake Anna in Orange Co. 8/30 and 9/1, and Eurasian Wigeons were found both at Chincoteague NWR on 10/7 and in Fauquier Co on 10/9. Also in Fauquier Co. on 10/9 was a Greater White-fronted Goose.
Among shorebirds, the most noteworthy were Upland Sandpipers; one was seen on 9/24 near Rural Retreat Lake in Wythe Co., followed by three on 9/28. Buff-breasted Sandpiper reports came mainly from Kiptopeke State Park in Northampton Co. and Chincoteague NWR in Accomack Co., spanning the period from 8/30-9/21, with a maximum of five at Kiptopeke on 9/8 and 9/11, and 11 at Chincoteague on 9/8. An additional individual, however, was in Culpeper Co. at a sod farm on 9/5. Also at this sod farm was a Wilson's Phalarope, nine Black-bellied Plovers, and 24American Golden-Plovers on 8/31, all unusual inland. Smaller numbers of American Golden-Plovers were alsofound at other inland locations on the Piedmont: one on 8/29 at the Fauquier Co. portion of this sod farm and 17 at the same location on 8/30, one at a sod farm in Loudoun Co. both 8/28 and 8/29, two in Augusta Co. in the Swoope area on 8/29, seven also in Augusta Co. in the Stuarts Draft/Fishersville area, and one at the Roanoke Sewage Treatment Plant on 10/12 . Finally, Baird's Sandpipers were found at several locations: up to three at the Loudoun Co. sod farm 8/28-8/30 and two later on 9/11, one at Hunting Creek in Fairfax Co. 8/28-8/29, two at the Roanoke sewage treatment plant 8/31 and another on 10/12, and a single individual on the weekend of 10/12-13 at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach.
Turning to songbirds, a very good find was the Fork-tailed Flycatcher found the Augusta County Bird Club at the Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery in Bath County on 9/28. Unfortunately, it was not found subsequently. Three sightings of Western Kingbirds in the period were all in southern Northampton Co. on 9/6, 10/5, and 10/19. Other unusual migrants included single Mourning Warblers in Buchanan Co. on 9/19 and in Fairfax Co. on 9/29, and single Connecticut Warblers at Leesylvania State Park in Prince William Co. on 9/14, at Kiptopeke State Park 9/18, in Loudoun Co. on 9/20, and in Fairfax Co. on 9/26. Also, single Philadelphia Warblers were reported at several locations: Leesylvania State Park both 8/31 and 9/24, Kiptopeke State Park 9/12, Reston 9/14, Chincoteague NWR 9/19, Great Falls Park in Fairfax Co. 9/22, sourthern Northampton Co. 9/25, Manassas National Battlefield Park in Prince William Co. 9/28, and at Kiptopeke State Park, Northampton Co. on 10/6 (the last bird banded). Single Olive-sided Flycatchers were noted at Leesylvania State Park 8/30, Whitetop Mountain 9/1, Huntley Meadows in Fairfax Co. 9/2, Shenandoah National Park 9/7, and Northampton Co. the weekend of 9/19-21. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers made a number of appearances: one in southern Northampton Co. 8/30 and another two there 9/5, four banded at Kiptopeke State Park 9/3, two in Shenandoah National Park 9/7, one at Leesylvania State Park 9/24, and one at Huntley Meadows, also on that same day. SingleOrange-crowned Warblers were seen both on 10/2 at Leesylvania State Park in Prince William Co. and on 10/10 in Buchanan Co., and unusual sparrow reports included included an immatureLark Sparrow at the CBBT 9/3, single Clay-colored Sparrows on the weekend of 10/12-13, both at False Cape State Park, Virginia Beach and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT), as well as on 10/19, again at the CBBT. Also at the CBBT the weekend of 10/12-13 was a Lincoln's Sparrow at the CBBT the weekend of 10/12-3, and a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow at the Inn at Afton near Waynesboro on 10/13. Finally, an out-of-season female Evening Grosbeak was reported on Hog Island in Surry Co. on 8/31.
Concluding with raptors, single Mississippi Kites were seen on 9/1 at Kiptopeke State Park, 9/2 at Rockfish Gap, both 9/16 and 9/23 at Candler Mountain here in Lynchburg, and 10/6 in southern Northampton Co. There were two sightings of light morph Swainson's Hawks at the Kiptopeke Hawk Watch on 10/7 and 10/12. A Golden Eagle at the Snickers Gap Hawk Watch on the Loudoun/Clarke Co line on 8/31 was unusually early, as were single Northern Goshawks on both 9/6 at Harvey 's Knob on the Bedford/Botetourt Co. line and on 9/9 at Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro . A rare dark phase Broad-winged Hawk was seen 9/7 in Fauquier Co., and the one-day high count of Broad-winged Hawks reported in the state was 3582 at Harvey's Knob on 9/23.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from October 20 th to January 23 rd. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.vabirds.org). Inclusion in this column does not imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy.
The late fall and early winter season has brought with it its diverse assortment of wandering waterbirds, late migrants and half-hardy holdovers, western vagrants, less common raptors, and limited numbers of northern passerine visitors. Starting with waterbirds, there was a Clark's Grebe in Virginia Beach (12/31 and 1/1). Two Ross's Geese were at Chincoteague NWR on both 10/26 and 11/1, then one on 11/4 and 11/9, as well as two at Craney Island , Portsmouth on both 11/12 and 11/18. Farther inland, single Ross's Geese were found in Augusta Co. (12/3-1/16), Rockingham Co. (12/3-4), and Fauquier Co. (11/8 and 12/15), with the earlier Fauquier Co. bird being considered an apparent Ross's x Snow Goose hybrid.
A White Pelican was a fly by in Cape Charles, Northampton Co. on 10/31, while at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) one Harlequin Duck was reported off and on through the period, with the number increasing to three in mid January. King Eiders were sighted at the CBBT on 11/30 and 12/26, and Common Eiders were reported from that location on six occasions, with a maximum of four individuals on 12/6, 1/18, and 1/21. An additional Common Eider was also reported from Virginia Beach on 1/2, and many reports of Long-tailed Ducks came from the Chesapeake Bay area, with a maximum count of 70 individuals at the CBBT on 1/21. A Pomarine Jaeger was sighted at the CBBT on 11/22, as well as on a pelagic trip out of Virginia Beach on 12/7 that also sighted one or two Thick-billed Murres and nine Manx Shearwaters.
Considering notable waterbird sightings inland, an immature Trumpeter Swan was present in Prince William Co. between 1/11-17, and one Brant at Mason Neck S. P. in Fairfax Co. between 11/7-17 was also unusual. Sightings of a single Greater White-fronted Goose in Fauquier Co. occurred through the period, as well as on the Fort Belvoir CBC (12/29) and in Prince William and King William Counties (1/12 and 1/20 respectively). In Augusta Co. there were two female Surf Scoters at two different locations 10/30-31, with one lingering through 11/17, although an injury could have been the cause. Another was at South Holston Lake in Washington Co. on 11/7, and there was a Black Scoter at Sandy River Reservoir in Prince Edward Co. on 11/3. Again at South Holston Lake in Washington Co. a Sandhill Crane was passing through on 11/10-11.
An Eared Grebe was at South Holston Lake in Washington Co. 11/10-11, as well as a Red-necked Grebe 11/16-17. An earlier Red-necked Grebe was on Burke Lake in Fairfax Co. 11/11-24, and another was at Virginia Beach 1/1 and 1/5. The Bristol CBC recorded the only Eared Grebe during the period on 12/29. A male European Wigeon, present since fall, continues to winter in Fauquier Co. for the ninth year in a row, as does one in Virginia Beach , which first showed up this year on 12/22. And among shorebirds, there was a Red-necked Phalarope in Augusta Co. 10/30, and a sizable group of Western Sandpipers in Rockingham Co (20+ on 10/31 and 11 on 11/1).
Concluding the waterbirds with gulls, notable species were a Little Gull at Kiptopeke S.P. (11/30), a Mew Gull at the CBBT (12/19), Thayer's Gull also at the CBBT (12/26, 28), Glaucous Gull at the Prince William County landfill (12/17, 20), Iceland Gull both at this landfill (12/18) and the CBBT (12/21), and California Gull at three locations in Prince William County (12/17, 24, 27, 1/4), as well as at the CBBT (12/25, 26), Fairfax Co. (12/23), and Fauquier Co. (12/20).
Late migrants included the following: Nashville Warbler (10/27 at Mason Neck S.P., Fairfax Co. and 11/2, North Fork Wetlands, Prince William Co.), Wilson's Warbler (11/1, Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co.), American Redstart 11/2, Kiptopeke S.P.), Black-and-White Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler (both 11/8, Northampton Co.), Prairie Warbler (11/9, Northampton Co.), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (11/8-10, Kiptopeke S.P.), Henslow's Sparrow (11/2, Buchanan Co.; late and unusual), Sedge Wren (10/26, Dulles Wetlands, Loudoun Co.; late and unusual), andBroad-winged Hawk (two juveniles 11/3, ESVNWR).
Among the half-hardy holdovers have been a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Fairfax Co. (both 12/14 and 12/31), single Black-and-white Warblers on 12/28 (Little Creek CBC), 12/31 (Back Bay CBC), 1/5 (Nansemond River CBC (Suffolk)), and 1/23 (in Suffolk), and single Baltimore Orioles in Fairfax Co., Cape Charles, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Norfolk, all in early January.
There were a few sightings of Orange-crowned Warblers (one on 11/3 at Mockhorn Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Northampton Co, three at different locations of Northampton Co. on 11/9, and one in Fairfax Co. on 1/13 and 1/20, and a White-winged Dove was found in Chesterfield Co. on 11/17.
A number of expected western strays have made appearances, as well as a few southern stragglers. Cave Swallows have been seen several times on the Eastern Shore: one on 11/3 at Mockhorn Island WMA, two on 11/18 at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (ESVNWR), and one there again on 11/19, seven at four locations in Northampton Co. on 11/24 and three the next day, and one at First Landing S. P. in Virginia Beach on 11/29. There were eight Western Kingbird sightings on the Eastern Shore since Labor Day, the latest being 11/9 (both near Machipongo and at Kiptopeke S.P.), and 11/11 (just north of the ESVNWR). Clay-colored Sparrows were seen on the weekend of 11/2 at Kiptopeke S.P., on 11/9 and again on 11/22 at the ESVNWR, and on 1/5 on the Nansemond River CBC, while a Lark Sparrow was found at the CBBT on 11/16 and 11/18.
Rufous or Selaphorus Hummingbird sightings during the period were made on the Bristol CBC, in Washington and Russell Counties, Rockingham Co., Arlington and Springfield , and James City and Northampton Counties . A flock of 14 Brewer's Blackbirds was found in Culpeper Co. on 11/9. The species was regular in Fauquier and Prince William Counties . (maximum of 19 between 11/24 and 1/20), and there were also 33 in Virginia Beach on 12/28 and two in Northampton Co. on 12/28-29. A single Yellow-headed Blackbird was located in Fauquier Co. on 11/13, and another was seen 1/18 at ESVNWR.
Considering unusual raptors first for the late fall, a Swainson's Hawk passed the Kiptopeke S.P. hawk watch on 11/3, and another was in that vicinity between 11/23-26. The following are the totals for Golden Eagles at the major hawk watches: twelve at Harvey 's Knob as of 11/11, eleven at Snickers Gap as of 11/20, seven at Kiptopeke S.P. as of 11/20, and three at Rockfish Gap as of 11/9. And for Northern Goshawks, the totals are ten for Harvey 's Knob, five for Rockfish Gap, and four for Snickers Gap. A Long-eared Owl was banded at Kiptopeke on 11/2, and another five owls that were probably this species were flushed at Mockhorn Island WMA on 11/3. Lastly, the totals for Northern Saw-whet Owls banded in the state are 130 in Northampton Co. as of 12/10 (this reflects totals at three separate sites, banding all night each evening), about 55 in Rockingham Co. as of 11/27, and 39 in the Lynchburg when operations concluded on 12/14 (the last two totals reflect banding at single sites that generally concluded by 11-12 PM).
Considering now raptor sightings later in the season, Northern Goshawks were encountered on three occasions around the state, on 11/29 at Kiptopeke and Virginia Beach , on 1/5 during the Nansemond River CBC around Suffolk , and on 1/9 in Charlottesville . A high of four Golden Eagles were reported in Highland Co. on 1/11, and single birds were also noted in Bath Co. (11/23) and King William Co. (1/5). Eight reports of Rough-legged Hawks were spread throughout the period, and came from Highland (two birds), Greene, Fauquier, Loudoun, Fairfax (two birds), and Northampton Counties. Ten reports of Peregrine Falcons were posted, and came from Snickers Gap, Alexandria, Augusta, Prince William, and Accomack Counties, and the Chesapeake Bay, Cape Charles, and Nansemond River CBCs, with four birds each seen on the later two CBCs. And there were sixteen reports of Merlins, which came from the Bristol CBC, Augusta and Rockingham Counties, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Fairfax Counties, Westmoreland County, Accomack County (2 birds), and the Nansemond River, Chesapeake Bay, and Cape Charles CBCs, with four birds seen on the later.
A single Short-eared Owl was seen several times at dusk along Bull Run Post Office Road in Fairfax Co. (12/1, 12/22, 1/8), while there was a small group at Saxis Marsh, Accomack Co (11/23), four in Fauquier Co. (1/11), and 3-4 in Loudoun Co (1/14).Sightings of Northern Saw-whet Owls apart from banding efforts included a road kill in Albemarle Co. on 11/23, at least two birds in Fauquier Co. on 12/15, and another in Fairfax Co. on 12/22. Rounding out the owls, a Barn Owl was noted on the Bristol CBC on 12/29.
Concluding with wintering passerines, conifer-dependent species have been sparse this winter, indicative of a good pine cone crop in the north. The highest number of Purple Finches reported was six on 1/21 in Orange Co., and the only recent report of a Pine Siskin was one on 12/22 in Fairfax Co. Only four sightings of single Red-breasted Nuthatches were made, on 11/13 at Snickers Gap, on 12/29 in Fairfax Co., and on 1/5 in both Arlington and Loudoun Co. More exciting was a flock of eight Evening Grosbeaks passing Snickers Gap on 11/18, as well as a single bird reported from near Falls Church on about 12/10. Snow Buntings were very spotty, with the following single birds: 11/13 at Occoquan NWR in Prince William Co., 11/20 in Fauquier Co.,
11/22 in Cape Charles , 11/23 at Chincoteague NWR, 12/5 again in Fauquier Co., 12/6 in Augusta Co., and 12/14 in Accomack Co., as well as two birds on 12/8 in Pulaski Co. Lapland Longspurs were more plentiful; a maximum of 39 were seen on 12/6-7 in Fauquier Co. as well as several other sightings there, 21 in Prince William Co on 12/6, 14 in Pulaski Co. on 12/8, nine in Westmoreland Co. on 11/29, and one to three individuals as follows: the southern end of the Eastern Shore as a fly over (11/3), Danville airport (12/1), Augusta Co. (12/4, 6, 1/16), Rockingham Co. (12/7), Prince William Co. (12/8), Rockingham Co. (1/5), and Loudoun Co. (1/20).
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from January 25 th to April 30 th. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.vabirds.org). Inclusion in this column does not imply that the sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy. All inaccuracies in reporting dates, etc are the responsibility of the author.
The many sightings over this period will be divided into reports first of waterbirds, then landbirds, and finally raptors, and in each of these groups reports will be reviewed roughly on a monthly basis, first encompassing primarily February, then March, and finally April.
Beginning with waterbirds, February was relatively slow. Nearby on the Outer Banks of North Carolina several Dovkies were seen during the VSO weekend trip 2/7-2/9, and at Fort Story , Virginia Beach, there was a flyby of four Razorbills on 2/17. Five Sandhill Cranes in Smyth Co. from mid January through the end of the month were the seventh record for southwestern Virginia . A Ross' Goose was found at Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenburg Co. the weekend of 1/25, and there was a Red-necked Grebe both on 2/14 off Riverbend Park on the Potomac River in Fairfax Co. and at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) that same weekend. Single White-winged Scoters were found inland both on 1/28 on South Holston Lake in Washington Co. and on 2/14 on Lake Orange in Orange Co. Unusual gulls seen were all at Neabasco Creek in Prince William Co.: an adult California Gull on 1/28, and both an Iceland and a Glaucous Gull on 2/5. Sightings of uncommon sea ducks at the CBBT, all on the weekend of 1/25, included up to four Common Eiders, five Harlequin Ducks, and four Long-tailed Ducks. One female Long-tailed Duck was also seen in Centreville, Fairfax Co. on 1/30.
An influx of Red-necked Grebes across the state highlighted unusual waterbird reports in March. Apparently the grebe movement was the result of a freeze up of the Great Lakes , which has not occurred since the last Red-necked Grebe invasion was seen here in 1994. The total number of Red-necked Grebes reported across the state numbered close to 200, while in West Virginia reports of approximately 440 individuals had been reported as of mid March. The following is an approximate summary of the sightings, with the number reported being the maximum for a given location. In western Virginia : 5 Russell Co, 1 Washington Co. , 1 Giles Co. , 1 Galax. In the Lynchburg area: 2 in the city, 3 Amherst Co. , 1 Prince Edward Co. Moving just west, north and east: 1 Botetourt Co. , 2 Bath Co. , 4 Augusta Co. , 1 Fluvanna Co. , 5 Richmond and Chesterfield Co. , 3 Portsmouth , and 3 the Eastern Shore. Farther north and in northern Virginia proper: 2 Westmoreland Co., 1 Spotsylvania Co., 2 Orange Co., 4 Greene Co., 2 Rockingham Co., 2 Stafford Co., 74 Fairfax Co./Alexandria/Arlington/Reston (highs of 23 at Burke Lake and 20 at the Occoquan Sewage Authority), 37 Prince William Co./Manassas, 3 Fauquier Co., 18 Loudoun Co., 11 Warren and Clarke Co., and 3 Frederick Co.
Other waterbirds made up many of the highlights in late February and March. Among gulls there was a Little Gull at Fort Story , Virginia Beach 2/22 and a Black-headed Gull there 2/23. And at the Prince William Co. landfill there was a report of a Thayer's Gull on 2/25 and an Iceland Gull on 3/19. Ross' Goose was reported both from Halifax Co. (2 on 3/3, 5) and Augusta Co. (3/6), Greater White-fronted Geese were found in Pulaski Co. (5 on 3/7) and Fauquier Co.(one each from different locations 3/7 & 3/8), and an inland Brant was found in Fauquier Co. (3/19). Also unusual inland were single Red-throated Loons in Bath Co. (3/16) and Loudoun Co. (3/22), as well as two in Fairfax Co. on Belmont Bay (3/22). Noted at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) were three Common Eiders (2/21 & 24) and three female Harlequin Ducks (3/15 & 19, with an earlier pair 2/21). Long-tailed Ducks were seen in Prince William Co. (one 3/12), the CBBT (one or more 3/15) and in Middlesex Co. (two on 3/17), and a Eurasian Wigeon was at Craney Island in Portsmouth (3/4 & 13). Finally, the following were among birds seen on a pelagic trip out of Virginia Beach 3/1: 54 Northern Fulmars, 2 Red Phalaropes, 1 Glaucous Gull, 4 Black-legged Kittiwakes, 309 Dovkies, 32 Razorbills, and 25-30 Atlantic Puffins.
Finally in April, very exciting was the sighting and photographing of a single West Indian Whistling Duck, native to but threatened in the Caribbean on 4/29 in Great Dismal Swamp. A number of significant waterbird reports were made away from the Coastal Plain. A Yellow-crowned Night Heron was at the Banister River Wildlife Management Area in Halifax Co. 4/27. Five Long-tailed Ducks were found in Rockingham Co. 4/7, with one also in Staunton on 4/10-4/11, as well as two at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) 3/30. A Common Moorhen was also found in Staunton 4/11. In northern Virginia , two female White-winged Scoters were at Beaverdam Reservoir, Loudoun Co. 4/3, as well as a Red-throated Loon earlier on 3/28, and another in Fauquier Co. 4/7. Four Ibises, likely Glossy Ibises, were also seen in Fauquier Co. on 4/19, and another two were seen in Prince William Co. 4/25, as well as a Cattle Egret also on 4/25. SixEared Grebes were on South Holston Lake in Washington Co. 4/14, and on the College Creek Hawk Watch in James City Co., eight White Pelicans passed on 4/22. Turning to the CBBT, a single Parasitic Jaeger was seen 4/13. A single female Common Eider was present there 3/30, and two females were seen 4/7. And reports of Harlequin Ducks included two on 3/30, three on 4/3, one female on 4/7, and four females on 4/18. Finally, after the large influx of Red-necked Grebes in late February and March, a single bird was still seen as late as 4/25 in Arlington Co.
Considering landbirds next, winter passerine visitors from the north were no more common in February than earlier in the winter. A single Snow Bunting was found in Fauquier Co. on 2/7, and several Red-breasted Nuthatches were found in Highland Co. the weekend of 2/1. Purple Finch reports early in this period were of five in Prince Edward Co. through early January and up to three in Buchanan Co. during February. Lapland Longspurs were reported from Highland Co (one on 1/25), Fauquier Co. (five on 2/7), and Rockingham Co. (one on 2/8).
A male Painted Bunting visited a Cape Charles, Northampton Co. feeder beginning in 2/22 and was still present until at least 4/13, as was a Rufous Hummingbird at the same site beginning 12/11, while a male Baltimore Oriole was present there beginning 1/26 into at least late February. Single Orange-crowned Warblers were seen both at Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. (1/25) and in Danville (1/31), and snow and ice in the Williamsburg area concentrated 126 Fox Sparrows along the road edges there on 2/17. Two sightings of Brewer's Blackbirds were made, one individual in King William Co. 2/21 and two in Essex Co. 3/7. Purple Finches reports continued to be few in number later in the period, with four birds continuing at a Buchanan Co. feeder, as well as six in Orange Co. 2/27, and one in Staunton 3/26. Lapland Longspurs were seen in Highland Co. (1 on 2/22), Augusta Co. (23 on 2/26) and Danville (5 on 3/2), and Red-breasted Nuthatches were noted in Bath Co. (3/8), Spotsylvania Co. (3/10) and Bath Co. (3-4 on 3/16).
Considering landbird sightings into early spring finally, a pair of Red Crossbills was seen nest building in Rockingham County beginning on 4/3, with the last report on 4/14. The site was in the vicinity of a previous nesting in 1980, and the only other nesting for Virginia recorded in the Bluebook was in 1932 in Washington Co. Also seen in the same vicinity on 4/3 was a late Red-breasted Nuthatch. Purple Finches in April were seen at feeders in Augusta Co. (4/5) and at two locations in Loudoun Co. (4/12 & 4/15). And unusual early spring migrant reports included aSwainson's Warbler at Breaks Interstate Park, Dickenson Co. (4/18) and a Philadephia Vireo in Frederick Co. (4/27)
Turning finally to raptors, an impressive concentration of birds was of about 100 Bald Eagles at Occoquan Reservoir NWR in Woodbridge on 1/29. Just a day earlier 53 were seen at nearby Leesylvania S. P. Golden Eagles are a winter raptor sought after, most reliably in Highand Co. and around Lake Moomaw in Bath Co. Sightings reported were of three on 1/25 (two in Highland Co. and one at Lake Moomaw), two on 2/1 at Lake Moomaw, and five to six in Highland Co. the weekend of 2/1. Other notable sightings of raptors in late January/February were of Rough-legged Hawks (one in Highland Co. 1/25, three there the weekend of 2/1, and four at Burke's Garden, Tazewell Co. 2/7), Peregrine Falcons (one each near Chincoteague NWR on 1/25 and at Dyke's Marsh 1/26), Merlins (one each in Rockingham Co. 1/28, Manassas 2/1, Prince Edward Co. 2/15, and Burke's Garden 2/17), Short-eared Owl (2-3 near Chincoteague NWR on 1/25), and Long-eared Owl (a roadkill in Fauquier Co. on 2/7).
In late February/March, notable raptor sightings were as follows: single Golden Eagles in Highland Co. (2/28) and Wythe Co. (3/15), Rough-legged Hawks in Highland Co. (2 on 2/22), Tazewell Co. (4 on 3/8), Loudoun Co. (1 on 3/8 & 10), and Augusta Co. (1 on 3/14), single Merlins at Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. (3/6) and the CBBT (3/18), and Long -eared Owls in Louisa Co. (2 on 2/25) and Fairfax Co. (1 on 3/24).
Considering April finally, there was a lingering Short-eared Owl in Fairfax Co. (4/27) and single Golden Eagles in Russell Co. (4/4), Rockingham Co. (4/6), Highland Co. (4/5-4/6), and James City County on the College Creek Hawk Watch (4/14). Also noteworthy were the following reports of Merlins: Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. (4/9), Great Falls, Fairfax Co. (4/19), Lorton, Fairfax Co. (4/19), and on the College Creek Hawk Watch (4/22). And Peregrine Falcons were reported from the following locations: Occoquan NWR, Prince William Co. (4/20), Nokesville, Prince William Co. (4/22), and Augusta Co (two on a Big Spring Weekend Count, 4/26-4/27).
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from April 30 th to July 16 th 2003 . Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.vabirds.org). Inclusion in this column does not imply that a sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy. All inaccuracies in reporting dates, etc are the responsibility of the author.
Leading off with spring migration, several rare species were reported fairly widely. There were twelve reports of single Black-billed Cuckoos, ranging from 5/3 at Occaquan Bay NWR in Prince William Co. to 5/20 in Staunton , as well as a few mid-June records in Bath/Highland Co. Alder Flycatchers were reported on six occasions from 5/1 in Charlottesville to 6/9 (two individuals heard at Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co.), as well as 3-4 individuals present at Whitetop Station in Grayson Co. (5/27). Mourning Warblers were reported five times from 5/3 at Monticello Park, Fairfax Co. to 5/31 in Alexandria, as well as three sightings later at higher elevation: Sky Meadows State Park, Fauquier Co. (6/1), Bath or Highland Co. (6/4), and near Powell Gap in Shenandoah N.P., between Rockingham and Greene Co. (7/6). And Lincoln's Sparrows were reported five times, from two on 5/1 at Julie Metz Welands, Prince William Co. to another report there on 5/18. Other rare passerine migrants included the following: Sedge Wren at Manassas National Battlefield Park, Prince William Co. (5/1), Olive-sided Flycatchers in Orange Co. (5/2), the Dismal Swamp (5/16), and Fairfax Co. (5/24), a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. (5/15), an Orange-crowned Warbler in Buchanan Co. (5/6), a female Audubon's Warbler at a bird bath in Hampton (5/21), and Golden-winged Warblers at Monticello Park, Fairfax Co. (5/7) and Frederick Co. (5/17), as well as higher elevation sightings in Highland Co. (two on 5/6 and one between 6/20-22) and Mountain Lake, Giles Co. (5/30). Late birds included a Veery in Arlington Co. (6/18; this is a regular occurrence there) and a Blackpoll Warbler in Falls Church (7/4).
A Red-breasted Nuthatch was also late in Lynchburg on 5/1, and several other northerly species were found in the mountains late in the spring. A single male Red Crossbill visited a feeder in Roanoke Co. (5/22-23). A singing Brown Creeper was observed in Shenandoah N. P. near Big Meadows (border of Page and Madison Co.) (5/28). A male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was on territory at Iron Mountain in Smyth Co. (5/29). And a Golden-crowned Kinglet nest with young was discovered at Iron Mountain in Smyth Co. (6/11). This is one of the few nesting records in the state, and also represents a disjunct breeding population in the state. A VSO Breeding Bird Foray was also held June 6-15 in Bath and Highland Counties, and the following high-elevation species were among the notables: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Least Flycather, Winter Wren (fledglings noted), Hermit Thrush (nest with young noted), Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Purple Finch.
Sightings of unusual birds that breed or potentially breed in the state included the following. International Migratory Bird Day on 5/11 brought a sighting of a White-winged Dove in southern Northampton Co. at Routes 645 and 600, at the same site where a pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves continue to nest. Another species expanding its range northward, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, has been reported once this summer, from Rockingham Co. on 6/28-29, after last summer's early June sighting at Manassas National Battlefield Park, and our first nesting three summers ago in Culpeper Co. Monk Parakeets were reported from three locations, one an established nesting location in Norfolk (5/2), and two sightings in Fairfax Co., one of a pair in Vienna (5/3) and another of a single individual at Belle Haven (7/3). And scattered Dickcissel sightings came from Culpepper Co. (one on 5/10), Rockingham Co. (one on 5/30 and four on 6/25), Fauquier Co. (three on 6/26 and two still on 7/11), and Burke's Garden, Tazewell Co. (one on 7/13).
We turn next to waterbirds. Lingering northern species included Iceland Gull (a first summer bird at Hunting Creek, Fairfax Co. on 4/30 and 5/1) and Red-necked Grebes (four at the Fairfax Co. Rod and Gun Club on 5/5, two at Burke Lake on 5/17, one on Belmont Bay on 5/17, and one at Woodglen Lake on 5/26 and 6/15, all in Fairfax Co., as well as one on Occoquan Bay, Prince William Co. on 5/24). Migrants of a western persuasion included a possible Long-billed Curlew on mudflats off Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co. around 5/23, White-faced Ibis (one at Chincoteague NWR on 5/4 and two in southern Northampton Co. from 5/28-5/29), three Upland Plovers in Rockingham Co. (5/1-5/2), and several sightings of Sandhill Cranes (two at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach on 5/9, two at Julie Metz Wetlands, Prince William Co. on 5/12, one in Augusta Co. on 5/12, one in Charlottesville on 5/24, and one in New Kent Co. about 6/1). Other migrants of interest included Parasitic Jaegers at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) (five light-morph adults on 5/3, one light-morph adult 5/9, and two adults on 5/17) and the following seven reports of Red-necked Phalaropes: two males at the CBBT (5/17), one female in Reston, Fairfax Co. (5/18), two birds at Craney Island, Portsmouth (5/20), one to two birds at Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. on the following dates: 5/23, 6/6, 6/21, and 6/22, eight birds at Blandy Experimental Farm in Clarke Co. on 5/22 (one bird remaining 5/24), and one male at Craney Island (6/3). Notable inland records included single Little Blue Herons in both Botetourt Co. (5/4) and Buchanan Co. (5/11), a White-rumped Sandpiper in Fauquier Co. (5/11), and two Least Terns on the James River at the Goochland/Powhatan Co. line (6/30). And several summer records were significant. A Reddish Egret was reported for one day only along the Chincoteague causeway (6/20). All three mergansers made showings in the state, with breeding by both Common Merganser (eight young on the Little River at the Montgomery/Pulaski Co. line both 6/4 and 6/21) and Hooded Merganser (breeding confirmed at Douthat State Park, Bath Co. on the Breeding Bird Foray), in addition to a female noted at Sky Meadows State Park in Fauquier Co. (6/22). A Red-breasted Merganser was also noted on Belmont Bay, Fairfax Co. (6/21). And a female Bufflehead was present at Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. (6/29). Two broods of Pied-billed Grebes were observed at Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area, Mecklenburg Co. (7/3), and a Common Moorhen was present at Blandy Experimental Farm, Clarke Co. (6/19-6/29). Other notable waterbird reports were three sightings of White Pelicans, with five at Leesylvania State Park, Prince William Co. (5/12), as well as three on Belmont Bay, Fairfax Co. (5/16) to the end of the month, and a single bird at Hog Island, Surry Co. (7/13). And a female Anhinga was seen at Stumpy Lake , Virginia Beach (5/16). Finally, a Wilson's Phalarope at Craney Island , Portsmouth on7/17 was probably an early migrant.
Concluding with raptors, a Northern Goshawk was sighted at Jarman Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Albemarle Co. on 5/3 during the VSO annual meeting. And there were three sightings of Swallow-tailed Kites during the period. The first was during the VSO annual meeting, and was seen at Ivy Creek, Albemarle Co. on5/2. And on 5/11 single individuals were also seen at both the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Northampton Co. and from Bull Mountain in Buchanan Co. Mississippi Kites were more widely reported, with the largest number seen being in the Emporia/Greensville/Southampton Co. area, where a maximum of 26 were seen on6/14, including one flock of 16. Other reports came from there on 6/21 and 7/9. In Halifax Co. one bird was seen on 6/1 after a three year absence from that locale. At Huntley Meadows two adults were present on 6/1 and 6/6, as well as single birds on 6/21 and 6/22. And one bird was also seen in Fredericksburg 6/4, and another in Woodbridge , Prince William Co. 6/14. A single report of Merlin was made, with two seen at the CBBT on 5/9. And several Peregrine Falcon reports were made, including one 5/2 in Norfolk , where they nest on the West Norfolk bridge, one 6/8 in Alexandria , and one 6/24 in Goochland Co. Unfortunately West Nile Virus's effects were seen in this species when three nestlings were killed by the virus, and a fourth nestling and a parent were also ill. Lastly, a Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard calling in Highland Co. at the Locust Springs Campground during the Breeding Bird Foray on both 6/8 and 6/9.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from July 17 th to October 16th 2003 , with reports divided into three periods of about one month each. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.ecoventures-travel.com/vso). Inclusion in this column does not imply that a sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy. All inaccuracies in reporting dates, etc are the responsibility of the author.
Beginning with reports from 17 July – 26 August, two Dickcissels were seen in Fauquier Co. as late as 7/19, while Selaphorus hummeringbirds were noted both in Prince William Co. the first week of August and in southern Northampton Co. on 8/6. Unusual transient flycatchers included an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Belle Haven, Fairfax Co. 8/17 and single Yellow-bellied Flycatchers on 8/24 both at Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. and Manassas National Battlefield Park, Prince William Co. Mississippi Kite reports continued through late summer, beginning with two adults at Stumpy Lake , Virginia Beach 7/18 and another sighting in Virginia Beach 8/8. In Fairfax Co. there was one at over Highway 50 near the Fairfax County Parkway 7/22, one and sometimes two in McLean between 8/10 and 8/26, and one in Springfield 8/17. In their stronghold in Southampton and Greenville Counties , one was noted 8/5 along the Meherrin River at the border between the two counties. Finally, one was seen in Augusta Co. 8/23. More reports of Swallow-tailed Kites also came in, with two adults on 7/23 along the York River in Gloucester Co. and one adult within about a mile of there 8/5 along Sarah’s Creek.
The rest of the notable sightings in this period were of waterbirds. On a pelagic trip out of Virginia Beach on 8/16 a juvenile White-faced Storm-Petrel and one Audubon’s Shearwater were seen, as well as four Red-necked Phalaropes. Another phalarope of this species was at Craney Island, Portsmouth 8/23, and Wilson’s Phalarope reports also came from Craney Island 7/17 (1), 8/17 (3), and 8/23 (1). Again at Craney Island , there were 21+ Avocets 8/23. Other interesting shorebird noted during the period were two Ruffs and one Baird’s Sandpiper at Chincoteague 7/19, a Eurasian Whimbrel there 8/2, and Upland Sandpipers at Hog Island , Surry Island 8/13 (2) and southern Northampton Co. 8/23 (1). Again at Chicoteague NWR, a photograph taken there 8/13 revealed an adult Heerman’s Gull.
One male Anhinga was at its regular haunts at Stumpy Lake, Virginia Beach 7/19, and a single adult White Pelican was seen four times at Hog Island, Surry Co. between 8/1 and 8/20. OneWhite-faced Ibis was at Chincoteague NWR 8/6, while White Ibises were seen in Virginia Beach (one adult and one immature 8/17) and at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (four immatures 8/23). A juvenile Little Blue Heron was in Manassas 8/11. Considering waterfowl, there was a Tundra Swan in Halifax Co. 7/25-7/28, two Surf Scoters at Fort Story, Virginia Beach 7/31, and a male Bufflehead still lingering at Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. 8/4.
Concluding with a few significant inland reports of waterbirds, a Black Tern was seen at Amelia Reservoir in Amelia Co. 8/3. Two immature Glossy Ibises were in Manassas 8/21. EightAmerican Avocets stopped in Augusta Co. also on 8/21. And an adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron was at the Banister River Wildlife Management Area 8/24.
Considering next reports to the Virginia Birds listserv from August 27 th to September 25 th, the big news of the period was Hurricane Isabel's passage through the state and the resulting birds. The coast of course benefited, but effects were felt all the way to at least the Shenandoah Valley . The totals reported for each species are high counts for each county, reported in order of appearance on the listserv, and most were for Friday the 19 th, although a smaller number of reports were the afternoon before or up to a few days after.
Herald Petrel (1 Kerr Reservoir, Mecklenburg Co.), Black-capped Petrel (4 Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel = CBBT), Cory's Shearwater (2 CBBT), White-faced Storm-Petrel (1 Frederick Co.), Wilson's Storm Petrel (1 Fairfax Co, 20+ CBBT, 2 Chesterfield Co.), Band-rumped Storm Petrel (1 Northampton Co., 1 Fairfax Co., 7+ CBBT), Leach's Storm-Petrel (1 Fauquier Co., 20+ CBBT, 1 Warren Co.). White-tailed Tropicbird (1 CBBT), Tropicbird species (1 Richmond, 1 Frederick Co.), Fulvous Whistling Duck (3 Warren Co.), Black-bellied Plover (3 Augusta Co.), American Golden Plover (6 Augusta Co.), White-rumped Sandpiper (3 Warren Co.), Baird's Sandpiper (1 Warren Co.), Western Sandpiper (3 Warren Co.), Parasitic Jaeger (2 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co.), Laughing Gull (50+ Amherst Co., 42 Rockingham Co., 14 Augusta Co., 130 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 11 Fauquier Co., 40+ Frederick Co., 107 Warren Co.), Greater Black-backed Gull (4 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 1 Warren Co.), Sabine's Gull (1 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co.), Caspian Tern (1 Amherst Co., 5 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 2 Prince William Co., 2 Frederick Co.), Royal Tern (1 Amherst Co., 52 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 3 Frederick Co.), Sandwich Tern (1 Fauquier Co., 2 Prince William Co., 1 Frederick Co.), Common Tern (2 Amherst Co., 4 Augusta Co., 275 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 10 Fauquier Co., 45 Prince William Co., 20+ Frederick Co.), Arctic Tern (1 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 1 Frederick Co.), Forester's Tern (1 Pulaski Co., 11 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 3 Orange Co., 2 Augusta Co., 100+ Frederick Co.), Roseate Tern (1 Northampton Co., 1 Amherst Co., 1 Augusta Co.), Least Tern (1 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co.), Black Tern (1 Woodbridge, 5 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 1 Prince William Co.), Bridled Tern (4 Northampton Co., 9 CBBT), Sooty Tern (7 Northampton Co.), andBlack Skimmer (1 Amherst Co., 1 Rockingham Co., 1 Augusta Co., 2 Louisa/Spotsylvania Co., 2 Prince William Co., 1 Fauquier Co., 1 Warren Co.),
Staying with waterbirds, other significant sightings included White Ibis (18 at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (ESVNWR) on 8/30 and 1 there on 9/6), Common Moorhen (on 9/10 at ESVNWR), and Wood Stork (on both 9/12 & 9/13 in Mathews Co.).
Finally, the following were notable inland waterbird sightings: Eared Grebe (9/7 at South Holston Lake, Washington Co.), Anhinga (an individual on both 9/7 and 9/10 from the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, and two 9/6 & 9/7 at Stumpy's Lake, Virginia Beach), Sabine's Gull (9/7 at South Holston Lake, Washington Co.), Black Tern (two on 9/4, Augusta Co.), American Golden Plover (two 8/27-8/31 Prince William Co. and one 8/28-9/8 Rockingham Co.), and Baird's Sandpiper (8/30-9/2 Rockingham Co.).
A couple of reports of Mississippi Kites were made: an adult passing the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch on 8/29 and a possible family group of four individuals in McLean, Fairfax Co. on 8/30.
Some songbird migrant reports are also worth noting. An apparent Western Tanager was seen in southern Northampton Co. 9/17, single Lark Sparrows were at both Craney Island in Virginia Beach 9/5 and in King William Co. 9/6., and a Lincoln's Sparrow was seen in Fauquier Co. 9/20. Philadelphia Vireo reports came from Phelps WMA, Fauquier Co. 9/7, southern Northampton Co. 9/7, and Leesylvania S.P., Prince William Co. 9/17. Mourning Warblers were seen as several locations: both Riverbend Park, Fairfax Co. and Snicker's Gap Hawk Watch 8/31, Phelps WMA, Fauquier Co. 9/7, and the CBBT 9/12, as were Connecticut Warblers : Alexandria Co. 9/18 & 9/20, and Fairfax Co. 9/20.
Olive-sided Flycatchers were observed at Sky Meadows S.P., Fauquier Co. 9/1, Thompson WMA, at the Clarke/Fauquier Co. line 9/8, and in Clarke Co. 9/10-9/12, while Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were seen at Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. 8/31, Leesylvania S.P., Prince William Co. 9/6, and in Madison Co. 9/8.
Finally, a few northern species put in early appearances. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was seen at the Candler Mountain Hawk Count near Lynchburg 9/20, and an Evening Grosbeak was seen in southern Northampton Co. 9/25.
We conclude with reports to the Virginia Birds listserv from September 26 th to October 16 th, 2003 . "Winter finches" continued to make a promising showing, with reports of Purple Finchescoming from Buchanan Co. (1 on 9/29 and 10/13), Charlottesville (several on 10/2), Fairfax Co. (1 on 10/12) and Fauquier Co. (4 on 10/12). In addition, five Red-breasted Nuthatches were seen in Clarke Co. on 10/10. A possible immature male Black-headed Grosbeak was seen at Beaverdam Park, Gloucester Co. 10/11, and a Selaphorus hummingbird, likely a Rufous Hummingbird, is visiting a feeder in James City Co. as of 10/6. A Lark Sparrow was found in Loudoun Co. on 9/27, and Lincoln's Sparrows were seen at a number of locations: Sky Meadows State Park, Fauquier Co. (1 on 9/27 and 10/12, and 12+ on 10/5), Bath Co. (4 the weekend of 9/27), southern Northampton Co. (1 on 9/29), Metz Wetlands, Woodbridge (4 on 10/5), and Stuart's Draft, Augusta Co. (1 on 10/10). A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was in Fairfax Co. on 9/30, and single Sedge Wrens were seen away from the Coastal Plain in both Bath Co. (the weekend of 9/27) and Augusta Co. (10/10). Philadelphia Vireos were noted in southern Northampton Co. (2 on 9/29), Manassas National Battlefield Park, Prince William Co. (1 on 9/30), Alexandria (1 on 10/3), and Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. (1 on 10/5), and a Connecticut Warbler was seen at Riverbend Park, Fairfax Co. on both 9/30 and 10/5. Finally, Orange-crowned Warbler reports came from southern Northampton Co. (1 on 9/29), near Blacksburg (2 on 10/4), Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. (1 on 10/9), and Prince William Co. (1 on 10/12).
Considering waterbirds next, a Red-throated Loon at Kerr Reservoir, Mecklenburg Co. on 9/27 was both rare and early on the Piedmont . And two Franklin Gulls at the Prince William Co. landfill on 10/4 were a second Piedmont record for the state, with single individuals also being seen there 10/6, 10/7, and 10/9. Staying inland, a Red Phalarope was an unusual find on Pandapas Pond in Jefferson National Forest near Blacksburg on 10/4. At South Holston Lake in Washington Co. on 9/27 there were nine Laughing Gulls and three Eared Grebes. And in Augusta Co. anAmerican Bittern was seen on 10/15. On the Eastern Shore , finally, White Ibis was seen at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Northampton Co. during the Kiptopeke Challenge on 9/27, and at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, there was a female Common Eider 10/16.
Concluding with a summary of some of the unusual raptors seen at hawk count locations, Harvey's Knob had four Northern Goshawks and one Golden Eagle as of 10/13, Rockfish Gap had four Northern Goshawks and three Golden Eagles as of 10/13, Snicker's Gap had four Northern Goshawks and three Golden Eagles as of 10/16, and Kiptopeke State Park had one Golden Eagle as of 10/15, as well as a light-phase juvenile Swainson's Hawk on9/30 and a dark-phase Rough-legged Hawk on 10/16.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from 17 October 2003 to 22 January 2004 , with reports divided into two periods of two months and one month. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.ecoventures-travel.com/vso). Inclusion in this column does not imply that a sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy.
Beginning with reports from 17 October – 23 December 2003 , a late Connecticut Warbler was seen in Augusta Co. 10/19. Individual White-winged Doves were reported on 11/17 both in Suffolk and at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (ESVNWR). And an apparent female Ground Dove was glimpsed briefly in Cape Charles, Northampton Co. 12/1.
Considering western transients, Lincoln’s Sparrows were reported widely: North Fork Wetlands, Prince William Co. 10/18 and 10/25 (1 each), Sunrise Valley, Fairfax Co. 10/18 (1), Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. 10/19, 10/24, and 11/3 (1,2, and 1), Augusta Co. 10/19 and 10/22 (1 each), Manassas National Battlefield Park, Prince William Co. 10/19 (3), Manassas 10/27 and 10/29 (1 each), Riverbend Park, Fairfax Co. 11/1 (1), and Westmoreland Co. 11/1 (1). Single Clay-colored Sparrows were also encountered at a number of locations: Kiptopeke S. P., Northampton Co. 10/23, Norfolk 10/26, Sky Meadows State Park, Fauquier Co. 11/18, Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (ESVNWR) 11/15, Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co. 11/27, and Julie Metz Wetlands, Prince William Co. 12/23. There was one report of a Henslow’s Sparrow, in Buchanan Co. 11/2, as well as a Sedge Wren 11/8, a Lark Sparrow at the ESVNWR 11/15, and aWestern Kingbird in southern Northampton Co. 11/13. Single Orange-crowned Warblers were reported from Norfolk 11/15, Kiptopeke S.P. 11/17, Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. 11/23, Fort Smith Park, Arlington Co. 11/26, and Cape Charles, Northampton Co. 12/7, while there were Harris’ Sparrows at ESVNWR (an adult11/9 and 11/17 and a first winter bird 11/8 and 11/17), as well as a pair at Julie Metz Wetland, Prince William Co. 12/23. In Prince William Co. there were Brewer’s Blackbirds on 11/30 (18) and 12/14 (14), and Selaphorus hummingbird reports came from Manassas 11/22-11/30, two locations in Buchanan Co. 12/7 and 12/10, and Roanoke Co. since September, still present 12/13.
There have been reports of a poor pine cone crop this year in the north, and the early winter season accordingly produced a good number of sightings of some species dependent on this food source. Purple Finch sightings began in mid-October, and they have been seen during the period in numbers too numerous to report. Pine Siskins, too, have been seen widely, as attested by the following listserv reports: Rockfish Gap 11/9 (1), Snickers Gap 11/14 (1), Clarke Co. 11/16 (20), Neabsco Creek, Prince William Co. 11/17 (1), Orange Co. 11/25 (1), Charlotte Co. 11/27 (4), Buchanan Co. 11/27, 12/14 and 12/17 (2, 2, and 1), southern Northampton Co. 12/5, 12/8, and 12/13 (1, 3, and 3), Wachapreague CBC, Accomack Co. 12/14 (1), Peaks of Otter CBC, Bedford/Botetourt Co. 12/16 (unspecified number), Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. 12/20 (1), and Highland Co. 12/20 (2). Snow Buntings were reported from the following locations: CBBT 11/15 (1), Lake Accotink , Springfield 11/16 (1), Rockingham Co. 12/5 (2), Nokesville, Prince William Co. 12/9, 12/10, and 12/13 (1, 2, and 1). Lapland Longspurs were seen at Craney Island , Portsmouth 11/15 (1), Augusta Co. 12/5 (3), and Nokesville, Prince William Co. 12/9, 12/10, and 12/13 (6, 6, and 1). Red-breasted Nuthatch reports came from Orange Co. 10/17 (1), Great Falls, Fairfax Co. 10/19 (1), Chesterfield Co. 11/14 and 12/20 (1 each), and the Plains/Airlie CBC (Prince William/Fauquier Co) 12/21. Evening Grosbeaks were seen in Highland Co. 12/3 (2) and King William Co. 12/6-7 (4). And Red Crossbills were noted in Jeffersonton 11/22 (2+), as well as on the Lynchburg Bird Club winter bird count 12/20 (4).
Among waterbirds, a Pacific Loon was at Kerr Reservoir, Mecklenberg Co. 12/6, as well as a Red-necked Grebe at Roaches Run, Arlington 12/6. An impressive 23 Ross’ Geese were found in Augusta Co. 11/12, along with 3 in Rockingham Co. 11/24, 11/29, and 12/3, 1 in Abingdon 12/12, and 2 at Chincoteague NWR 12/13. Snow Geese were encountered inland in Augusta Co. 11/12 and 11/23 (20 and 4), Buchanan Co. 11/17 (1; second county record), and Nokesville, Prince William Co. 11/27 and 11/30 (2). And Greater White-fronted Geese were seen in Augusta Co. 11/12 (15), Northampton Co. 11/26 (2), Mill Creek Lake, Amherst Co. 12/13-12/22 (1), and Fairfax Co. 12/6 (1). A Long-billed Curlew was spotted on Hog Island, Northampton Co. 11/14, while single Sandhill Cranes were noted in Orange Co. 10/20 and Buchanan Co. 12/11. And inland Great Cormorants were reported at Roaches Run, Arlington Co. 11/18 and Lake Accotink, Fairfax Co. 12/1.
Unusual ducks at the CBBT included a King Eider present 11/15-12/21, while Common Eiders were reported 10/25-11/9 (immature male) and 11/15 & 12/20 (4). A male Harlequin Duck was reported on several dates between 11/9–12/8, while a pair was noted 11/25–12/20, and Long-tailed Ducks were seen 11/21 (female), 11/25 (male), and 12/8 (multiple individuals). Inland sightings of scoters included a White-winged Scoter at South Holston Lake, Washington Co. 11/2 and another in Fairfax Co. 11/30, and a Black Scoter at Great Marsh, Fairfax Co. 11/30. And aEurasian Wigeon was seen 12/21 on the Plains/Arlie CBC, Fauquier Co.
Gull sightings picked up in mid to late December, with an Iceland Gull at the Prince William Co. landfill 12/13, 12/20, and 12/23, as well as at the Fauquier Co. landfill 12/21, a Thayer’s Gullthere also 12/21, and a Glaucous Gull both at the Fauquier Co. landfill 12/18, 19, and 21, and at the Prince William Co. landfill 12/20.
Finally, besides reports during the migration period, significant raptor reports included Merlins at Fort Smith, Arlington Co. 11/23&26, Nokesville, Prince William Co. 12/12 (2), Alexandria 12/21, and Fauquier Co. 12/21 (2), Peregine Falcons at Chincoteague NWR 11/28, Clarke Co. 12/12, Richmond (2 in early December), the Augusta Co. CBC 12/14, and Alexandria 12/21,Golden Eagles in Highland Co. 12/20 (2), and Rough-legged Hawks at the following locations: both Prince William Co. and Fauquier Co. (up to 3 in each county from about 12/10 through the period), Augusta Co. 12/19 (1), Highland Col 12/20 (8), and Orange Co. 12/21 (1). And Short-eared Owls were reported from Westmoreland Co. 11/16 (1), Augusta Co. 12/6 (1) and 12/20 (5), and Highland Co. 12/20 (2).
For the period from 24 December 2003 to 22 January 2004 reports of Purple Finches continued to be fairly frequent, but the only post of Pine Siskins was of an unspecified number in Fairfax Co. on the Belvoir CBC 1/4. Common Redpolls staged a major invasion south, however, with the following sightings reported: 1 at the CBBT 12/26, 20+ at Lock Haven Park, Virginia Beach, 4 at Sunset Beach, Northampton Co., 5 at the CBBT, and 5 at Chincoteague NWR, all on 12/28, 72+ on the Back Bay CBC, 15+ north of Kiptopeke S.P., 2 at Cape Charles, and an unspecified on the Chincoteague CBC, all on 12/29, 2 again in Cape Charles 12/30, 17 on the Cape Charles CBC 12/31, and 1 at Fort Story, Virginia Beach 1/4. Snow Buntings were present at Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenburg Co. 1/1 (3), 1/3 (5), and 1/11 (4), as well as at Fort Story , Virginia Beach 1/11 (1). Red-breasted Nuthatches were noted at Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. 12/28 (1), at Blandy Experimental Farm in Clarke Co. through much of the period (unspecified number), and at Mason Neck NWR, Fairfax Co. 1/4 (unspecified number). And the few reports of Lapland Longspurwere on the Cape Charles CBC 12/31 (14) and at Craney Island , Portsmouth 1/22 (a small flock).
A Black-throated Gray Warbler at Blandy Experimental Farm in Clarke Co. 12/27-1/13 was an exciting find, and gave many birders an opportunity to see it. A Harris' Sparrow was at Julie Metz Wetlands in Prince William Co. 12/28-1/4, and a second individual was also seen on 1/4. A Clay-colored Sparrow was also there 12/27-1/19. A Lark Sparrow was found at Fort Story, Virginia Beach 1/19, and 20+ Brewer's Blackbirds were at a dairy farm in Nokesville, Prince William Co. 1/6-7. Selaphorus hummingbird sightings reported included an adult male banded in Loudoun Co., present from December through 1/5, and a Selaphorus in Buchanan Co. 12/7-1/1.
Another notable hummingbird was a late Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Cape Charles most of December. Other notable late passerines included single Yellow-breasted Chats both in Loudoun Co. 12/28 and in Cape Charles at least 12/31-1/1, as well as a Dickcissel also in Cape Charles 12/21. And a Baltimore Oriole was in Charlottesville 1/3.
A probable Arctic Loon was found at First Landing S. P., Virginia Beach 1/2-3. And single Pacific Loons were found at three locations: Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenburg Co. 12/27-1/16 (first seen 12/6), in Northampton Co. north of Cape Charles 12/30, and on the Little Creek CBC in the Virginia Beach area 12/31. An inland Red-throated Loon was also present at Kerr Reservoir 1/1-1/17, while two Red-necked Grebes were reported in this time period: one at Kerr Reservoir 12/27-1/3 and another at Grandview N.P. in Virginia Beach 1/13. A Clark's Grebe was at First Landing S.P. for the fourth year in a row (12/31-1/3), and a Western Grebe was seen at False Cape S.P. , Virginia Beach 12/29. Turning to gulls, a Sabine's Gull was seen twice at Fort Story (12/31 and 1/11), and an adult California Gull was at the Prince William County landfill 12/26-29. A Black-legged Kittiwake was seen on the Cape Charles CBC 12/31, as was an Iceland Gull; the later species was also at the Prince William Co. landfill 1/3-1/17. Considering sea ducks, at the CBBT, single King Eiders were noted 12/27 (adult male), 12/31 (immature), 1/6 (female), and 1/13 and 17 (immature male). Common Eiders were also seen there 12/27 (three males and three females), 1/1 (2), and 1/17 (7), as well as on the Cape Charles CBC 12/31 (2). A pair of Harlequin Ducks were at these islands 12/27-1/17), and Long-tailed Ducks, in addition to being numerous at the CBBT, were also reported at Riverbend Park, Fairfax Co. 1/7 and Grandview N.P., Virginia Beach 1/13 (single birds each).
More southerly birds on the coast included the following: two Brown Pelicans 12/27 (CBBT) and an American White Pelican 12/29 (Craney Island, Portsmouth), a Cattle Egret 12/27 (CBBT) and a White Ibis 12/31 (Cape Charles CBC), a Common Moorhen and a Piping Plover 12/31 (both Cape Charles CBC), and single Anhingas 12/31 (Little Creek CBC, Virginia Beach) and 1/17 (Stumpy Lake, Virginia Beach). Other waterbirds inland included a Greater White-fronted Goose in Amherst Co. 12/13-1/10 and five White-winged Scoters at Kerr Reservoir 1/17. ARoss's Goose was found on the New River in Carroll Co. 1/1, and the following inland sightings of Snow Geese were made, all of single birds with one exception: Botetourt Co (two on 1/2), Loudoun Co (1/3), Lorton, Fairfax Co. (1/4), Centreville, Fairfax Co. (1/10), and Burke Lake, Fairfax Co. (1/20, 22).
Concluding with raptors, two sightings of Barn Owls took place, one at Dulles Airport on the Manassas CBC 12/27 and one on the Central Loudoun CBC 12/28. Also on these two counts, singleNorthern Saw-whet Owls were recorded. In Augusta County Short-eared Owl reports came from both Weyers Cave (one on 12/26) and Swoope (five on 1/17). Other sightings were of single birds with the one exception noted: Manassas CBC 12/27, Saxis WMA, Accomack Co. 12/28, Oyster, Northampton Co. 1/1, Calmes Neck CBC, Loudoun Co.1/4 (2), ESVNWR 1/10, and Cedar Creek Battlefield, Frederick Co. 1/22. Golden Eagles sightings were as follows: Russell Co. 12/30 (2 adults, 1 immature), Sky Meadows S.P., Fauquier Co. 12/31, Walkerton CBC, Middle Peninsula 1/4, and Highland Co. 1/19. Rough-legged Hawks were seen in Rockingham Co. 12/26, Burke's Garden, Tazewll Co. 12/28, Fauquier Co. 1/1, 1/9, and 1/16 (2), Loudoun Co. 1/4 and 1/11, Highland Co. 1/11 (1), 1/17 (4), and 1/19 (5), Orange Co. 1/11, and Frederick Co. 1/11. Merlins were seen in Manassas 12/25, on the Chesapeake Bay CBC 12/27, on the Fort Belvoir CBC in Fairfax Co. 1/4 (2), and at Kerr Reservoir 1/11. And Peregrine Falcon sightings took place at the CBBT 1/10 and at the ESVNWR 1/17.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from 23 January to 23 April 2004 , with reports divided into three periods of one month each. Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.ecoventures-travel.com/vso). Inclusion in this column does not imply that a sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy.
Beginning with reports from 23 January – 22 February 2004 , a highlight of this period’s sightings was the largest influx of Razorbills in Virginia in about a decade. Sightings were from Chincoteague NWR on 2/13-14 (1) and from Fort Story , Virginia Beach on 2/15 (2), 2/16 (18), 2/19 (1) and 2/22 (1). Numbers in North Carolina off Cape Point in Buxton, however, were truly impressive, with about 4400 on 2/15. Another spectacle was the congregation throughout the period of tens of thousands of scoters at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT), making this the greatest gathering noted by Virginia birders in at least 60 years. On 2/5 a conservative count estimated 57,000 Surf Scoters and 7850 Black Scoters, as well as 34 White-winged Scoters, while the day before the number was estimated at 75,000 birds, including about 100 White-winged Scoters. Also at the CBBT during the period were Long-tailed Duck, Common Eider(maximum of six on both 1/31 and 2/21), King Eider on 1/24, 1/31, and 2/7 (1, 2, and 1 respectively), and Harlequin Duck (four on 1/24 and one each on 1/31, 2/5, 2/7, and 2/21). An Eared Grebe was seen at Craney Island , Portsmouth on 2/10 and 2/20, with a total of three birds present on 2/22. And Red-necked Grebes were reported from the following locations: Alexandria near the Washington Sailing Marina 1/25 (1), the CBBT 2/15 and 2/21 (1), Chincoteague NWR 2/19 (1-2), Grandview Beach near Hampton 2/20 (2), and Fort Story , Virginia Beach 2/21 and 2/22 (1 and 2 respectively).
Reports of unusual gulls were limited to two Iceland Gulls at the Prince William County Landfill 1/29 and one at Chincoteague NWR 2/19 in the company of a Glaucous Gull, and another Glaucous Gull earlier off Northampton Co. 2/15. Six White Pelicans were flybys at Rudee’s Inlet, Virginia Beach 2/13, and three were seen passing at Craney Island on 2/22. There were single reports of a Ross’ Goose in Amherst Co. 2/15-16, a county record, and of a Greater White-fronted Goose in King William Co. 2/21. A diminutive Richardson’s Canada Goose was seen both at Airlie in Fauquier Co. 1/24 and at Neabasco Creek in Prince William Co. 2/2. There were inland reports of a single Snow Goose both at George Washington Birthplace, Westmoreland Co. 1/26 and in King George Co. 2/21, while a single inland Red-throated Loon was seen at Kerr Reservoir, Mecklenburg Co. 1/24.
After the winter invasion of Common Redpolls late last year, there was only a single report of one bird this period in Loudoun Co. at a feeder on 2/4. Purple Finches continued to be widespread, with a peak count reported of 50 birds in South Boston, Halifax Co., and Red-breasted Nuthatches continued to be seen at Blandy Experimental Farm in Clarke Co. The small group of Snow Buntings at Kerr Reservoir, Mecklenburg Co. in early to mid January, numbering up to five individuals, was seen again 1/24 and 2/7, while at Craney Island a group numbering about 23-25 was seen 1/23, 1/29 and 1/31. Single individuals were also reported from Rockingham Co. 2/3 and Highland Co. 2/8. Pine Siskins were seen in Highland Co.1/25 and 2/8 (1), 1/30 (10-12), and 2/15 (about 30), as well as in Charlottesville 1/26 (6) and Buchanan Co. (2/12), while Lapland Longspurs were noted in Westmoreland Co. 1/26 (3), Augusta Co. 1/27 (10+), 1/29 (41+), and 2/2 (2), and Rockingham Co. 2/4 (3).
Western vagrants included the following. The Clay-colored Sparrow first seen at Julie Metz Wetlands in Prince William Co. 12/27 was seen as late as 2/14, while a Harris’ Sparrow there since 12/28 was seen through 2/22. Brewer’s Blackbirds were seen at their usual haunts at a dairy farm in Nokesville, Prince William Co. 1/23 and 1/24 (up to about 12), as well as in Cupeper Co. 1/30 (6) and King William Co. 1/31 (4). A Selasphorus hummingbird showed up at a Norfolk feeder 1/27, and a Common Raven in Caroline Co. on the Middle Peninsula was a good distance from the mountains.
A very unusual wintering record was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak that showed up at a feeder in Bedford Co. in late December and remained. And also noteworthy was an Indigo Bunting in Charles City Co. 1/28 that stayed several days. There was one record of an Orange-crowned Warbler, visiting a suet feeder in Norfolk in late January off and on, and in addition to the regular occurrence of Eurasian Collared-Doves in southern Northampton Co., two were seen 2/21 in Westomoreland Co. near the Potomac River Fisheries Commission in Colonial Beach.
Concluding with raptors, Rough-legged Hawks have made a strong showing. The largest numbers seen were in Northern Virginia , with Loudoun Co. being a hot spot. Starting 2/1 up to eight individuals were being seen, and a maximum of 20 were seen 2/15. Five to six Rough-leggeds were also seen in Orange Co. 2/15, four were in Culpeper Co. 2/16, two were at Occoquan Bay NWR, Prince William Co. 2/21, and single individuals were reported from Fairfax Co. 1/29, Frederick Co. 2/2, and Charlottesville 2/4. In Highland Co. five were seen on 1/30, 13 on 1/31, and 14 on 2/8. And on the Eastern Shore single individuals were noted at Saxis Marsh in Accomack Co. 2/8 and at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR in Northampton Co. 2/15. Short-eared Owlswere also numerous. Large numbers were again found in Loudoun Co., with five to six or more on several occasions from 2/14 to 2/22, although a maximum of seven were also seen in western Augusta Co. 2/8. Other reports included one each in Culpeper and Orange Cos. 1/30 and four or more later in Culpeper Co. 2/11, two in Frederick Co. 2/2, one at Saxis Marsh 2/14, and one at the Chincoteague causeway 2/19. A Long-eared Owl was found being mobbed by crows in Fauquier Co. 1/26, and an Osprey along the Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg 1/24 and 1/26 was a first January record. Three Golden Eagles were seen in Highland Co. both 1/31 and 2/8, and an immature was also found in King William Co. 1/31. Merlin reports came from the following locations: the CBBT 1/24 and 2/21, Loudoun Co. 2/1, Occoquan Bay NWR in Prince William Co. 2/7, and Chincoteague NWR the weekend of 2/13-15, while Peregrine Falcons were seen in southern Northampton Co. 1/31, Richmond 2/4 (a pair at last year’s nest site, Craney Island 2/6, the CBBT 2/7, and the Coleman Memorial Bridge nest site on the York River between and York and Gloucester Cos. 2/19. Barn Owl sightings were made in Prince William Co. 1/31, Loudoun Co. 2/1, and Culpeper Co. 2/4 (2), while single Loggerhead Shrikes were spotted at Blandy Experimental Farm in Clarke Co. 1/26 and in Highland Co. 1/31.
For the period from 23 February – 23 March 2004 ,waterbirds provided many of the noteworthy sightings, especially along the coast. However, two piedmont lakes, Lake Anna on the Louisa/Spotsylvania Co. line, and Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenburg Co., yielded good sightings. Two different Pacific Loons were present, the one at Lake Anna observed between 2/24-3/14, and the one at Kerr Reservoir between 3/7-3/12, having been found there earlier in December and January. Farther west, nine Eared Grebes were found on South Holston Lake, Washington Co. 3/9, with a single bird also at Craney Island , Portsmouth 3/22. Red-necked Grebes were present at several locations (maximum numbers noted): Manassas 2/24-3/2 (1), Lake Anna 3/2-3/3 (2), South Holston Lake 3/7-3/9 (3), and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) the weekend of 3/20-21 (1), while Red-throated Loons were recorded at Lake Anna 3/2-3/12 (2), Kerr Reservoir 3/7-3/12 (1), and Northumberland Co. 3/21 (2). Several rare gulls showed up at their usual haunts. An adult California Gull was seen at both Neabsco Creek, Prince William Co. 2/23-3/13 and at Hunting Creek, Fairfax Co. 3/19-23, single Thayer’s Gulls were seen at Neabsco Creek 2/23, the Prince William Co. landfill 2/25, and Fort Story, Virginia Beach 3/22, a first winterGlaucous Gull, and occasional second individual were at the Prince William Co. landfill 2/25-3/14 as well as a second report from Hunting Creek 2/25, and a first winter Iceland Gull was found at Neabsco Creek 2/23, and at the Prince William Co. landfill 2/25-3/14. Two other interesting gulls were a two-headed individual (species not identified) seen at the CBBT 2/29 and a three-footed Herring Gull at the Prince William Co. landfill 3/1. Among diving ducks, there were Harlequins at the CBBT 2/29 (1), 3/3-4 (2), 3/20-21 (2), and 3/22 (4), Common Eiders there also 3/3-4 (3) and 3/22 (6), and Long-tailed Ducks were reported from the CBBT 2/29 (1), 3/3-4 (2), 3/20-21 (2), and 3/22 (3), as well as from Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. 3/14 (1) and Burke Lake, Fairfax Co. 3/21 (2). A Greater Shearwater was spotted from Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co. the weekend of 3/21, and 15 White Ibises were at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR 3/22. And moving inland again, a Great Cormorant on Kerr Reservoir 3/12 may be only the second piedmont record, and the first for the spring. A Ross’ Goose was in Fauquier Co. 2/29-3/1, singleEurasian Wigeons were found both in Fauquier Co. and Surry Co. 2/29, and a Snow Goose previously seen in King George Co. 2/21 was also there 2/24 and 3/2 (two individuals on last date).
Things were relatively quiet on the songbird front. Purple Finches continued around the state in good numbers, while single Common Redpolls were seen in Lynchburg 2/22-3/1, Hampton 2/27, and Spotsylvania Co. 3/13. About 50 Pine Siskins in McDowell, Highland Co. 2/27 was a high number, and the only other records were of single individuals in Amherst Co. 3/6 and Buchanan Co. 3/13 and 3/21. A Harris’ Sparrow found at Julie Metz Wetlands, Prince William Co. first in late December was seen there through 3/12, and a Selasphorus hummingbird in Roanoke Co. since September was reported as still present as of 3/13. Eight Brewer’s Blackbirds were at Lake Anna 3/6, and a Clay-colored Sparrow was reported from Northumberland Co. on the Northern Neck 3/21. In Bedford Co. the Rose-breasted Grosbeak that showed up at a feeder in late December remained until 2/28, and an apparent Ruby-throated Hummingbird was noted in Buchanan Co. 2/24. Single Orange-crowned Warblers were seen in both Hampton sporadically in February and at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach 3/1.
Considering raptors lastly, Rough-legged Hawks were found in Highland Co. 3/28 (3), Burke’s Garden, Tazewell Co. 3/6 (1), and Fauquier Co. 3/11 (1), and Short eared Owls continued to be reported from Loudoun Co. through 3/13, with a maximum of eight on 2/24, as well as in Culpeper Co. 2/27 (10) and 3/2 (2) and Fairfax Co. 2/28 (1). After last period’s Fauquier Co. report, another Long-eared Owl was found, this one in Louisa Co. 3/7. Single Golden Eagles were found in Highland Co 2/28 and Burke’s Garden 3/6, a Merlin was seen at Craney Island 3/22, and aPeregrine Falcon was at the Rappahannock river Valley NWR in Richmond Co. on the Northern Neck 2/27, as well as a pair nesting in downtown Richmond, with eggs as of 3/23.
Finally, for the period from 24 March – 23 April 2004 , winter birds lingered; Purple Finch numbers increased a bit as birds began moving north, and 52 in Orange Co. 4/13 was a good total. A single Red Crossbill was also seen in Orange Co. 4/2, while up to seven or more visited a feeder in Roanoke off and on from 4/1-4/16. Pine Siskins were seen in a few scattered locations, with the most consistent sightings coming from Buchanan Co. between 3/24-4/18 (high of 4) and Franklin Co. 3/25-4/18 (1), as well as in Loudoun Co. 4/10 (2) and Halifax Co. 4/21 (1). A single Red-breasted Nuthatch was in Louisa Co. 4/14-4/15, and a Rough-legged Hawk lingered until 3/29 in Augusta Co. Red-necked Grebes also lingered through most of the period, with records coming from Airlie Reservoir in Fauquier Co. 3/27-3/29, 4/2, and 4/9 (1), the Martinsville Reservoir 3/28 (1), Mason Neck NWR, Fairfax Co. 3/30 (4), Craney Island , Virginia Beach 4/1 (2), and Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenburg Co. 4/10 and 4/17 (1), while six Eared Grebes were at South Holston Lake, Washington Co. 4/9. A California Gull seen at Hunting Creek, Fairfax Co. earlier was seen again 3/27, while at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) Harlequin Ducks were still there 3/27 and 4/3 (3), 4/10 (5) and 4/15 (1). And Long-tailed Ducks were also at the CBBT 4/3, as well as at Beaverdam Reservoir in Loudoun Co. 3/27 (3), Smith Reservoir in Stafford Co. 3/27 (5), on the Northern Neck 3/27-3/28, and at Mason Neck S.P., Fairfax Co. 4/9 (1). Finally, a male Eurasian Wigeon first seen in Hampton Virginia 4/1 was present through 4/15.
A few notable migrant waterbird sightings took place, with a Black Rail at Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. 4/17-4/18, an Upland Sandpiper near Willis Wharf in Northampton Co. 4/18, aSandhill Crane at Rural Retreat Lake, Wythe Co. 3/24-4/4, three American Avocets at Craney Island 4/17-4/1, three to four Black-necked Stilts off the Chincoteague NWR causeway 4/8 and another at Hog Island NWR, Northampton Co. 4/17, and White Ibises at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach 4/1 (20) and at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR (ESVNWR) 4/3 (13). A number of unusual inland records of waterbirds were also reported. A Glossy Ibis in Campbell Co. 4/14 was a first county record, as was a Cattle Egret in Buchanan Co. 4/13. In Fauquier Co. there was aForester’s Tern 4/7, a Snowy Egret 4/9, and a Little Blue Heron 4/22, with another the same day in Prince William Co. Four Yellow-crowned Night Herons in Herndon, Fairfax Co. 4/18 were mating and nest building, and Black-crowned Night Herons showed up on 4/7 in Lynchburg (1), at Smith Mountain Lake on the Bedford/Franklin Co. line (2), and in Fauquier Co. (1), as well as two in Waynesboro 4/10 that had wintered. Caspian Terns were at both South Holston Lake (3) and in Chesterfield Co. (1) 4/9, four Surf Scoters were at Kerr Reservoir 4/11, and twoAmerican Bitterns were seen in Augusta Co. 4/22. Finally, a noticeable movement of Common Loons took place in mid April following 3 ½ days of rain: in the Martinsville area on 4/14 there were 95 on Beaver Creek Reservoir and 208 at Goose Point on the Patrick/Henry Co. line, while the next day in northern Fairfax Co. 79 were noted in transit, with another 149 counted passing Huntley Meadows on 4/16.
Considering passerines next, Brewer’s Blackbirds in the state lingered to 4/11 in Augusta Co. (4), a Selasphorus hummingbird in Roanoke Co. present since September stayed until 4/8, and aDickcissel wintering in Cape Charles, Northampton Co. was reported most recently 4/3. Western Tanagers were seen both in Staunton at a feeder 3/27-3/29 and at Chippokes S.P., Surry Co. 4/1, while Eurasian Collard-Doves continue to frequent Route 6 in Northampton Co., with one sighted 4/3. Swainson’s Warblers had arrived at Dismal Swamp NWR 4/14 (3), with up to six reported through the rest of the period. Single Philadephia Vireos were reported both on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Bedford/Amherst Co. line 4/19 and at Huntley Meadows 4/23, where aMourning Warbler was also seen there that day.
Concluding with raptors, a White-tailed Kite was seen in Suffolk Co. 4/3, and a probable Mississippi Kite was glimpsed briefly at Huntley Meadows 4/23. Reports of single Peregrine Falconscame from Craney island 4/1, and both Henrico Co. and the CBBT 4/10, while a pair nesting in Richmond hatched chicks on 4/22. And single Merlins were seen 4/10 in both Henrico and Halifax Co.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from April 24 th to July 21 st 2004 . Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.ecoventures-travel.com/vso). Inclusion in this column does not imply that a sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy. All inaccuracies in reporting dates, etc are the responsibility of the author.
Leading off the highlights for this reporting period is a juvenile Magnificent Frigatebird that was seen at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) for about 10 minutes 5/23. Also from the CBBT were reports of an adult Little Gull 4/28, single Arctic Tern and Roseate Tern 5/8, and one Sooty Shearwater and six Wilson’s Shearwaters 6/2. Another highlight was a Ruff located at Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co. 5/21-5/22 during a Northern Virginia Bird Club trip. Other shorebirds of note were a pair of Red-necked Phalaropes at Craney Island, Portsmouth 5/23-5/24 (female seen again 5/25), a male Wilson’s Phalarope at Chincoteague 5/26-5/27, Marbled Godwits along the Chincoteague causeway 5/25 (3) and the weekend of 7/4 (8), a Stilt Sandpiper at Chincoteague 5/15, a Wilson’s Plover at Chincoteague 6/3, a Western Sandpiper at Craney Island 5/17 and an unspecified number at Chincoteague the weekend of 6/6, and singleUpland Sandpipers in Henrico Co. 4/24 and in Fauquier Co. 5/1-5/5. Other notable waterbirds include Black Rails at Saxis Waterfowl Management Area (one on 5/23, four on 6/2, and one on 6/6), a Purple Gallinule along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Jamestown from at least 5/9-5/17 (vocalizations also heard 5/24), three single Common Moorhens at Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area, Mecklenburg Co. 5/1, Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. 5/12-5/17, and Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach 6/6, single American White Pelicans seen in both Halifax Co. 5/8-5/9 and at Back Bay NWR 6/2 and 6/6, and a White-faced Ibis at Chincoteague reported several times between 5/22 and 6/26. In addition, Common Mergansers nested on the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland just north of Riverbend Park in Fairfax Co., as a chick was observed 5/30 and a female was seen with six young 6/8. Finally, significant inland waterbird observations include the following. Two Common Loons were on Lake Moomaw, Bath Co. 7/14. Least Bitterns were noted at Neabsco Creek, Prince William Co. 5/29 (3) and 5/30 (1), and single Cattle Egrets were present in Culpeper Co. 5/2 and Fauquier Co. 5/7. A pair of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons nested again in the Salem area near Roanoke (4/27), and a flyby was also seen in Annandale , Fairfax Co. 7/1, while a Black-crowned Night-Heron was in Page Co. 7/2. Single Surf Scoters were seen both on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Pipers Gap near Galax on 4/20 (omitted from the last report) and in Henrico Co. 4/24. Single Virginia Rails were reported at both Blandy Experimental Farm, Frederick Co. 6/18 and at Sky Meadows S.P., Fauquier Co. 6/26, and a Sora was also seen at Blandy Experimental Farm 6/8, with four juveniles subsequently seen there 7/18. Three Black-bellied Plovers were seen in Rockingham Co. 4/26, five Sanderlings were in Culpeper Co. 5/9, and one Dunlin was spotted in Augusta Co. 5/13. A first county record of Least Tern in Henry Co. occurred 6/26, and three Caspian Ternswere reported in Lynchburg 4/26.
Turning to the landbirds, a Gray Kingbird was seen briefly along Route 600 in Northampton Co. 5/8, while a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Reguge (ESVNWR) 5/15, and a nesting female was found at the Countryside Golf Course in Roanoke 6/17-7/17, with five eggs present 7/2. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were found at the CBBT 5/20, in Amherst Co. 6/5, and in Fairfax Co. 6/8 (3), and Black-billed Cuckoos were noted at many locations: Alexandria 5/9, Augusta Co. Big Spring Day 5/15 (5), Prince William Co. 5/23 (2), Highland Co. 6/12 (2), the Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park (SNP) 6/19 and farther north of there in the park 6/20 (2), Frederick Co. 6/26, and Shenandoah Co. in George Washington N.F. 7/3. Mourning Warblers were seen at several locations too: Julie Metz Wetlands in Prince William Co. 5/15, Dulles Airport, Loudoun Co. 5/20, Paddy’s Knob, Highland Co. 6/12 and 6/15-6/16, and a male that was at Wakefield Park, Fairfax Co. 5/9-6/20. An Orange-crowned Warbler was seen during the VSO spring meeting in Lynchburg the weekend of 5/1-5/2, a migrant Golden-winged Warbler was seen in Amherst Co. 4/24, and a Brewster’s Warbler as in Frederick Co. 5/15 where a male Golden-winged Warbler was present in the nesting season last year. A Sedge Wren was seen in Orange Co. 5/12, and single Northern Waterthrushes were at Sky Meadows S.P. 5/16 and in Augusta Co. 7/19. One Henslow’s Sparrow was reported in Culpeper Co. 5/5, and one report of a Lincoln’s Sparrow came from Sky Meadows S.P., Fauquier Co. 5/16, while Dickcissels were reported from the following locations: Woodward Turf Farm in Fauquier Co. 5/19 (several) to 5/27 (2), Henrico Co. 5/31 (4-5+), Rappahannock River Valley NWR in Richmond Co. 5/30 (6) to 6/7 (4), Campbell Co. 6/8-6/13 (3), and Orange Co. 7/4 (2).
A few lingering northerly nesters were a Pine Siskin 4/26 in Annandale, Fairfax Co., a Purple Finch 5/1 in Clarke Co., a Red-breasted Nuthatch 5/9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Franklin Co., and a Dark-eyed Junco 5/21 in Halifax Co. Good efforts were also made to find such species in the state at likely nesting locales. Two Purple Finches were on Whitetop Mountain 6/28, as were 15 Red Crossbills , and another Purple Finch was also seen at Mount Rogers 7/6. Reports of Red-breasted Nuthatches came from near Whitetop Station 5/17, Highland County 5/23 (1) and 6/19 (a few), Whitetop Mountain 6/28 (2), Shenandoah Mountain in Rockingham Co. 7/3 (5), and Mount Rogers 7/6. A pair of nesting Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers with nestlings was noted at Bear Mountain, Highland Co. 6/7, and birds on seven territories were also located in the Mount Rogers area 6/16-6/19, as well as a bird at Whitetop Mountain 6/28. Alder Flycatchers were observed near Whitetop Station 5/17 (4-5), and 6/28 (2), and Least Flycatcher reports came from there 5/17 (3-4) and Highland Co. 5/23 (3) and both 6/12 and 6/18-6/20 (several at Paddy’s Knob). Brown Creeper sightings were made at Ramsey’s Draft, Augusta Co. 5/30 (1), Locust Springs, Highland Co. 6/12, the Big Meadows area of SNP 6/19 (1), Whitetop Mountain 6/28 (1), and Mount Rogers 7/6. Winter Wrens were reported in Highland Co. 5/23 (2), Whitetop Mountain 6/28 (3), Shenandoah Mountain, Rockingham Co. 7/3 (3), and Mount Rogers 7/6 (2), andGolden-crowned Kinglets were found in Highland County near Lantz Mountain 5/23 (3), at Locust Springs 6/12, and Sapling Ridge 6/19 (several), on Elliott Knob in Augusta Co. 6/26 (2-3), at Whitetop Mountain 6/28 (2), and at Mount Rogers 7/6. Finally, Yellow-rumped Warblers sightings were made in Highland County near Lantz Mountain 5/23 (2), Elliott Knob, Augusta County where five males and a female with two recently fledged young 6/26 verified nesting, Whitetop Mountain 6/28 (2), Shenandoah Mountain in Rockingham Co. 7/2 (7+), and Mount Rogers 7/6 (2). Some of these high altitude nesters were also found at low elevations early in the summer. Such sightings included single Dark-eyed Juncos in Loudoun Co. 6/4, Clarke Co. 6/30, and Alexandria 7/2, as well as a Brown Creeper in Culpeper Co. 7/1 and a Red-breasted Nuthatch in Lynchburg 7/15.
Concluding with the raptors, a Swallow-tailed Kite was found with diligent searching at Gloucester Point, Gloucester Co. 7/19 where they have been noted in previous summers. Mississippi Kite sightings have been widespread this year. At their stronghold in Greensville/Southampton Counties, they were seen from 5/28 (6+) to 7/2-7/3 (10-14). These additional records have also been posted: The George Washington Parkway in Fairfax Co. 5/11 (1), Staunton River Battlefield S.P. in Halifax Co. 5/15 (1), Riverview subdivision in Prince William Co. 5/16 to 6/16, where up to six birds were noted and nest building was initiated but apparently abandoned, possibly in favor of another site somewhere in the vicinity, ESVNWR in Northampton Co. 5/16 (1), the College Creek Hawkwatch near Williamsburg 5/17 (4), Runt Powell’s Farm in Halifax Co. 5/18 (1-2) and 5/25 (1), Huntley Meadows, Fairfax Co. 5/22 (4), 5/23-5/24 (1) and 6/27 (2), Great Dismal Swamp NWR 5/22 (1), Portsmouth 5/23 (1), Alexandria 6/14 (1), and Campbell Co. 7/4 (1). Peregrine Falcons sightings were also numerous: Huntley Meadows 5/5 (1), Wreck Island, Northampton Co. 5/8 (1), Craney Island 5/17 (1), Richmond, where four young were hatched and two relocated to SNP, Chincoteague NWR the weekend of 6/5 (1), both the Front Royal area of SNP 6/20 (1) and Hawkbill Mountain in SNP 7/11 (3) and 7/18 (2), and Hunting Creek, Fairfax Co. 7/18 (1). Merlins were reported from Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach 4/24 (2), in Appomattox the weekend of 5/1 (1), and at the CBBT 5/21 (1), and Northern Harriers were seen on a Chincoteague NWR/Saxis Marsh field trip the weekend of 5/22 (1), at Back Bay NWR 6/2 (one immature), near Middlebrook in Augusta Co. 6/14 (1), at South Point Marsh in Accomack Co. 6/15 (1), at Parker’s Marsh in Accomack Co. 6/19 (a pair, possibly food carrying, as well as another female), in the Swoope area of Augusta Co. 6/26 (1), and at Mason Neck S.P., Fairfax Co. 6/27 (1). Finally, Loggerhead Shrikes were noted in Bedford Co. 5/1-5/2 (food carrying) and 5/8-5/9, in Augusta Co. south of Staunton 7/4 (2), and in Augusta Co. on Route 876 7/5 (1).
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from 22 July to 14 October 2004 . Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www. virginiabirds.net/VAbirds.com). Inclusion in this column does not imply that a sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy. All omissions, inaccuracies in reporting dates, etc are the responsibility of the author.
Reports for this edition cover the end of the summer and much of the fall migration period. Readers can look forward to reading more details about the summer in the forthcoming first edition of “Virginia Birds”.
Waterbirds made up the bulk of significant sightings early in the period. Eared Grebes were reported at S. Holston L. in Washington Co. 8/31 (2) and 9/18 (3), and a female Anhinga was on Stumpy L., Virginia Beach 8/13, with two females there 8/14 and 9/4. During the Eastern Shore Birding Festival a juv. Common Moorhen was at Eyre Hall, Northampton Co. 10/10. American Avocets were seen regularly at Craney I. , Portsmouth , beginning with 8/1 (13), followed by smaller numbers until 9/22 and 9/26 (15), with the last report on 9/30 (24), and a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was reported from Craney I. 9/3. Upland Sandpiper reports came from Craney I. (one bird between 8/8 and 8/21), as well as from Northampton Co. 8/15 and 8/17 (1), Hog I. WMA, Surry Co. 8/27 (4), and Remington sod farm, Culpeper Co. 9/8 (2). One Hudsonian Godwit was seen at Craney I. 8/21, 9/13, and 9/19, while single Marbled Godwits were reported from Craney I. (8/17, 8/21, 9/9), Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach (9/4 and 9/18), and several locations in Northampton Co.: north of the landfill 1.5 mi 8/25, Wreck I. Natural Area 9/11 (unspecified number), Oyster 9/19, and the Hog I. area 10/8 and 10/9 (6). White-rumped Sandpipers were found regularly at Craney I. beginning 8/8 (3), peaking 9/9 (15), and a last report 9/26 (3), as well as in Northampton Co. (first reported 8/14 (1), a maximum of 25 on 9/13 and a late report 10/9 of an unspecified number), Hog I. WMA, Surry Co. 8/29 (unspecified number), and Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach 9/4 (1). Single Baird’s Sandpipers were reported more widely from Craney I. 7/31 and 8/27, Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co. 8/3, Rockingham Co. 8/22-8/28, Loudoun Co. 8/29, King William Co. 9/2, and Northampton Co. 9/3 to 9/16. Buff-breasted Sandpipers were noted at Craney I. 8/27 and 9/13 (1), Hog I. WMA, Surry Co. 8/27 (2) and 8/29 (3), Westmoreland Co. 9/2 (3), Culpeper Co. 9/8 (2), Prince William Co. 9/11 (7), and Fauquier Co. 9/13 (3). All three phalaropes were recorded, with Wilson’s Phalaropes found several times at Craney I. beginning with two 8/13 and a high of three 8/21, 9/23 and 9/26), as well as in Northampton Co. 8/22 (2) and 8/24 (1) and in Culpeper Co. 9/8. Red-necked Phalaropes were noted in Rockingham Co. 9/8 and 9/9 (a pair then a different individual), Augusta Co. 9/9 (1), and Craney 9/9 (6) and 9/22 (9). And a single Red Phalarope was seen on a pelagic trip out of Virginia Beach 8/15. Finally, an adult Long-tailed Jaeger was found at Craney I. , Portsmouth 9/18 on the heels of hurricane Ivan, and an immature was on the Nansemond R., Suffolk Co. 9/19.
Concentrating next on notable inland records of waterbirds, a dead Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was found in Nelson Co. 9/19 after hurricane Ivan’s passage, making it the first specimen record for the state. At Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co. Least Bittern breeding was inferred from observation 7/23 of one ad, one HY, and two other possible HY or females); and a bird was also seen on Neabsco Cr., Prince William Co. 7/31. An ad. Little Blue Heron was at Fair Oaks, Fairfax Co. 8/11, while an imm. was at Mill Cr. L., Amherst Co. 8/12-8/13, and one Black-crowned Night Heron was at Dupont Pond, Augusta Co. One Greater White-fronted Goose was present in Fauquier Co. 10/9, and single Snow Geese were observed in Loudoun Co. 9/19 and Fairfax Co. 10/1, as were five individuals on S. Holston L., Washington Co. 10/12. Three Virginia Rails and two Sora were seen at Bland Experimental Farm, Frederick Co. 7/25, and one Virginia Rail was also found in Sky Meadows S. P., Fauquier Co. 8/15. Three adult Sandhill Cranes were reported from Augusta Co. near Mt. Solon 8/4, having been present for over three weeks, and remained through 8/15. Single birds were also reported from Augusta Co. south of Weyer’s Cave 8/26, and from Northampton Co. 9/2-9/4, seen from the Kiptopeke S. P. hawkwatch platform. Black-bellied Plovers were found at the Remington sod farm, Fauquier Co. 9/8 (3) and 9/9 (4), and American Golden-Plovers were reported from Prince William Co. 8/28-8/29 (2) and 9/11 (10), Culpeper Co. 9/3 (5), 9/6-9/9 (2), and 9/18 (15), and Fauquier Co. 9/9 (1). One Willet in Rockingham Co. 8/15 was a third county and first fall record, and a Long-billed Dowitcher in Fauquier Co. 9/9 was a possible first county record. Single Caspian Terns were seen in Manassas 8/14 and at S. Holston L., Washington Co. 8/22 along with one Forester’s Tern, while three Forester’s Terns were seen earlier at the lake 8/17 as well another three at Mill Cr. L., Amherst Co. A Sooty Tern 9/11 was an even better find at S. Holston L., and Black Terns were also found there 8/17 (7) and 8/22 (12), as well as earlier in Fairfax Co. 7/31 (1) and Chesterfield Co. 8/1 (4).
Moving to raptors, a White-tailed Kite was a great find 9/17 at Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR (ESVNWR), Northampton Co. There was a secondhand report of a Mississippi Kite nest in Fairfax Co. over the summer, where one and sometimes two ad. were reported from 7/22 to 8/13 in the vicinity of Waynewood Elementary School , Carl Sandburg Middle School , and the George-Washington Parkway . Other reports came from Annandale, Fairfax Co. 7/31 (2), Mason Neck NWR, Fairfax Co. and Dinwiddie Co. 7/31 (5) and 8/1 (1). Prior to the start of the migratory season one Peregrine Falcon was sighted at Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co. 8/7, and one Merlin was seen at S. Holston L., Washington Co. 8/17. Reports of Northern Harrierscame from Augusta Co. both near Smith Pond 7/29 (one female where one was noted all summer) and the Swoope area 7/31-8/1 (3) and 8/15 (2), Accomack Co. 8/21 (3), S. Holston L., Washington Co. 8/23 (1), and Buchanan Co. 8/25 (1). Single Northern Goshawk sightings were made from Harvey ’s Knob 9/14 and a second bird prior to 9/24, Rockfish Gap 10/6 and 10/9, and Snicker’s Gap 10/12, while Golden Eagle’s were seen in Culpeper Co. 9/18 (1) and Rockfish Gap 9/19 (2). Finally, a Short-eared Owl was seen both on the Kiptopeke S. P. hawkwatch 9/3 in the early hours of the morning and in Augusta Co. 10/4, while Loggerhead Shrike sightings came from several locations: Clarke Co. 7/24 (1), Augusta Co. 8/4 (1), the Madison/Culpeper Co. line 8/4 (2 ad. and 2 imm.), Bath Co. 8/21 at two locations (three birds total), Highland Co. 9/4 (1), and Fauquier Co. 10/3 (1).
Besides at their traditional location in southern Northampton Co., single Eurasian Collared-Doves were found in Montross, Westmoreland Co. 7/26, in Isle of Wight Co. 8/24-8/27, and at Sandbridge , Virginia Beach 10/11. Sightings of Black-billed Cuckoos came from Fauquier Co. 8/15, 9/1, 9/10), Northampton Co. 8/22, Augusta Co. 8/29, Fairfax Co. 9/4, Prince William Co. 9/11, and the Clarke/Loudoun Co. line 9/12. An adult male Rufous Hummingbird was in Appomattox Co. 7/23 and a Selaphorus hummingbird was in Fairfax Co, 9/18, 10/6 while anintergrade Northern Flicker was banded at Kiptopeke S. P. 9/19. Single Olive-sided Flycatchers were reported from Loudoun Co. 8/28, 8/29, and 9/9, Prince William Co. 8/29, 9/11, and 9/12, the Culpeper/Fauquier Co. line 9/1, Manasas 9/12, and Northampton Co. 9/19. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher reports were frequent, with sightings in Arlington 7/30, Prince William Co. 8/27, 8/29, 9/5, 9/11, and 10/11, Fauquier Co. 9/1 and 9/10, Northampton Co.(primarily Kiptopeke S. P. banding station) 9/2, 9/5, 9/11 (3), 9/12 (2), 9/19, 9/20, 9/21 (2), 10/6 and 10/7, Loudoun Co. 9/12, Franklin Co. 9/19, and Fairfax City 9/21, and a single Alder Flycatcher report came from Leesylvania S. P., Prince William Co. A Western Kingbird was found north of ESVNWR 9/19, followed by no less than three near the Kiptopeke S. P. entrance 10/8, with one still present 10/10. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s nest reported on last issue with five eggs present 7/2 was apparently unsuccessful, with little activity observed after that time, two eggs still present 7/24, and the female last seen about that date. Numerous Philadelphia Vireos were reported: Fairfax Co. 8/26 and 9/5, Fairfax City 9/2, 9/19, and 9/20, Arlington Co. 9/3, Highland Co. 9/4, Prince William Co. 9/5, 9/17, 9/19 (2), 9/21, and 10/11, Loudoun Co. 9/11 and 9/19, Kiptopeke S. P. 9/11 and 9/13 (three banded), elsewhere in Northampton Co. 9/20 and 10 10/9, and Buchanan Co. the week of 9/19, and at least three Cave Swallows were present at Kiptopeke S. P. 9/19. Sedge Wrens possibly nested in Augusta Co., with a minimum of two to three individuals present from 7/22, and one still present to 8/26; nest material or food carrying and possible nestling vocalizations were noted. This was a fourth county record and third summer record for the Mountain and Valley province. A Bicknell’s Thrush was banded at Kiptopeke S. P. 10/13. Records of migrating Golden-winged Warblers came from Gloucester Co. 8/19, Prince William Co. 8/23, Kiptopeke S. P. 8/30 (banded), and the Loudoun/Fauquier Co. line 9/5, and Orange-crowned Warblers were reported from Fairfax City 9/23, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) 10/6 and 10/7, and Buchanan Co. 10/12. An unusual Black-throated Blue Warbler report was of abilateral gynandromorphy individual (one half of body with male characteristics and the other half female) in Northampton Co. 10/5, and not one but two Townsend’s Warblers were found, the first a female in Buchanan Co. 9/26 and the second a male in Williamsburg 10/8. Northern Waterthrush records included 28 banded at Kiptopeke S. P. between 8/19 and 10/4, with a one day total of 17 banded 9/19,and other reports were one in Norfolk 9/19 and another elsewhere in Northampton Co. 9/20. Connecticut Warblers were reported from Augusta Co. 9/11, Loudoun Co. 9/12, Northampton Co. 9/19, Fairfax City 9/20, Prince William Co. 9/21, Fauquier Co. 9/26 (2), Highland Co. the weekend of 9/24-9/26, Alexandria 9/30 and 10/3, and Kiptopeke S. P. 10/4 and 10/5 (two banded), and Mourning Warbler sightings were made at Kiptopeke S. P. 8/18 and 9/11 (two banded), Loudoun Co. 8/22 and 9/25, Prince William Co. 9/5, Augusta Co. 9/12 and 9/13, and Shenandoah Co. 9/15. Clay-colored Sparrows were found at the CBBT 10/3 (2), and in Augusta Co. 10/3, Kiptopeke S. P. 10/3, and Back Bay NWR 10/11. Lark Sparrows were found in both Northampton Co. 9/4 and 9/16 and in Floyd Co. 9/5. Lincoln Sparrow sightings came from Fairfax Co. 9/20 and 10/10, Fairfax City from 9/21-9/26 (two at times), Prince William Co. 9/21 (two or more) and 10/9 (2), Bath and Highland Cos. the weekend of 9/24-9/26, Kiptopeke S. P. 10/6 and 10/8 (three banded), and Loudoun Co. 10/10, while Dickcissels were found in Fauquier Co. 7/24 (3), Westmoreland Co. 9/19, Prince William Co. 10/9, and Clarke Co. 10/15. Concluding with northern finches, Red-breasted Nuthatches were widely reported beginning 9/19 through the period, and an undetermined number of Red Crossbills were found in Jefferson National Forest, Giles Co. 9/13, and well as ten or more in Rockingham Co. 9/23. A singleEvening Grosbeak was found at the Peaks of Otter on the Bedford/Botetourt Co. line 9/8. Purple Finches were found in Highland Co. the weekend of 9/24-9/26 (1), Rockingham Co. 10/13 (1), and Louisa Co. 10/14 (2), and Pine Siskins were reported from Kiptopeke S. P. 10/6 and 10/11.
This edition's summary covers reports to the Virginia Birds listserv for the period from 15 October 2004 to 25 January 2005 . Individuals interested in subscribing to this listserv or reading its archives can find directions on the VSO web page (www.virginiabirds.net/). Inclusion in this column does not imply that a sighting has been accepted by VARCOM (the VSO's Records Committee), or verified in any other way. Nor does omission of a sighting from this column imply that a particular sighting was not credible or noteworthy. All omissions, inaccuracies in reporting dates, etc are the responsibility of the author.
One Red-throated Loon was found 20 Jan at Beaverdam Res. Loudoun, and one Pacific Loon was at Kiptopeke S.P., Northampton 13 Nov. Four reports of single Red-necked Grebes were made in January, two on the Coastal Plain and two on the Piedmont at Lake Anna and at Hunting Cr., Fairfax. Eight Eared Grebes were recorded on the Bristol C.B.C. 26 Dec, the eighth year for the species on the count since 1996 and a new high count for it. Either a Western or a Clark’s Grebe was spotted from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (C.B.B.T.) 9 Jan, and a probableWestern Grebe was seen at Pleasant’s Landing, Lake Anna 15 Jan. An Aechmophorus grebe seen there again 16 Jan was probably the same bird. A grebe observed from Ft. Story , Virginia Beach on New Years Day was seen well enough to confirm a Clark’s Grebe. Single Greater White-fronted Geese were found at four locations, two in King George and two in Fauquier. Scattered reports of Snow Geese were made in the Piedmont , mostly of single birds, with a high of 37 blue morphs in Augusta . Diligent inspection of Snow Geese flocks produced reports of single Ross’s Geese from the following locations: Aggregate Industries ponds, King George 14 Nov and 17 Dec, Turkey I. Rd. east of Richmond 28 Nov, and during and after the Wachapreague C.B.C., Accomack 18 & 19 Dec. Three others were found on the Cape Charles C.B.C., Northampton 30 Dec. Following splitting of the Cackling Goose from the Canada Goose, observers were on the lookout for this diminutive form, and reports came from Northampton , King George, Augusta , and the Bristol C.B.C., with a high of 8 in Augusta 8 Jan. Most of these sightings were of the hutchensii subspecies when specified, but one minima was also noted with three hutchensii in King George 7 Dec. Single Eurasian Widgeons were reported from five localities, all on the Coastal Plain. One King Eider was found on Smith I. , Northampton during the Cape Charles C.B.C. 30 Dec, and 6 Common Eiders were found on the same count, with one additional record for Common Eider coming from the C.B.B.T., Northampton 7 Dec.
Northern Goshawks were reported primarily from the hawk lookouts, with highest season totals coming from Kiptopeke and Snicker’s Gap (13 and 11 respectively), but away from the hawk lookouts 6 additional birds were seen. The Kiptopeke hawkwatch totaled 4 Swainson’s Hawks, the latest on 5 Nov, along with an apparent Harlan’s subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk that same day. Both Kiptopeke and Snicker’s Gap had 2 Rough-legged Hawks for the season, and besides Highland and Tazewell, there were three reports from the Northampton , Frederick , and Fairfax . Season totals for Golden Eagles at Kiptopeke and Snicker’s Gap were 13 and 21 respectively, and besides other hawk watches, Highland ,and Tazewell, there were four reports of Golden Eagles from Frederick , Augusta , and Mecklenburg . A dead juv. Common Moorhen was found at Back Bay N.W.R., Virginia Beach 13 Oct, and another juv. was seen there 24 Oct, while one additional individual was found on the Cape Charles C.B.C., Northampton 30 Dec. One Yellow Rail was well observed on the Eastern Shore 13 Nov, and 15 Sandhill Cranes flew over the Eastern Shore of Virginia N.W.R., Northampton 5 Nov. American Avocets were found at Craney I. , Portsmouth , 17 Oct-11 Dec, with a high of 4 on 28 & 30 Oct, and only one Upland Sandpiper was noted, at Craney I. 17 Oct. Two wintering Whimbrels were found on both the Wachapregue C.B.C., Accomack 18 Dec and the Cape Charles C.B.C., Northampton 30 Dec. OneRed Phalarope was at the C.B.B.T., Northampton 23 Oct, and about 25 were seen on the pelagic trip 27 Nov out of Rudee Inlet , Virginia Beach.
Unusual gull sightings included a probable ad. Franklin’s Gull at Lake Anna 10 Nov, although the observer did not have binoculars at the time, a California Gull on Neabsco Cr., Prince William 26 Nov and another possible individual at Smith Mtn. L., Franklin 9 Jan, a Thayer’s Gull at both the Fauquier landfill 19 Dec and on the Ft. Belvoir C.B.C. 2 Jan, and three sightings each of both Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, with one of the Glaucous Gulls being on the Piedmont at Lake Anna 17 Dec. Four Eurasian Collared-Doves in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach 18 Dec was a high number for the species. Barn Owls were reported from four locations in northern Virginia , as well Augusta , and single Snowy Owls were seen at Chincoteague N.W.R.,Accomack 29 Dec and on Ship Shoal I. , Northampton 30 Dec. Two Long-eared Owls were found on the Central Loudoun C.B.C. 26 Dec, and 1-3 Short-eared Owls were observed at seven locations. Selasphorus hummingbirds that were both probably Rufous Hummingbirds were visiting feeders in Blue Ridge , Botetourt and James City in October, and an ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was in Cape Charles from 30 Dec to at least 19 Jan. A male Black-chinned Hummingbird visited the same location 28 Nov through at least mid Dec.
An Ash-throated Flycatcher was well observed and photographed at Eastern Shore of Virginia N.W.R., Northampton 6 Nov, and two other Myiarchus flycatchers were seen at Craney I., Portsmouth 20 Nov and at the C.B.B.T., Northampton 23 Nov; calls were heard from the former bird that suggested an Ash-throated. A Western Kingbird was also found near Kiptopeke S.P.,Northhampton 18-22 Oct. One Northern Shrike was found on Fisherman’s Island , Northampton 30 Dec, and Loggerhead Shrikes were reported from five locations. Cave Swallows made their strongest showing yet this fall, first showing up at Kiptopeke S.P., Northampton 5 Nov and seen last near the Eastern Shore of Virginia NW.R., Northampton 12 Dec. High numbers reached in the 30s on 28 Nov and 5 Dec. Besides Northampton , small numbers of the swallow were also seen in Fairfax , Suffolk , Loudoun, and at Craney I. , Portsmouth . Red-breasted Nuthatcheswere widely reported, with a high of 18 on the Banister River W.M.A. C.B.C., Halifax 26 Dec. A male Mountain Bluebird was present near the Eastern Shore of Virginia NW.R., Northampton27&28 Nov, and a Bicknell’s Thrush was banded at Kiptopeke S.P., Northampton 21 Oct.
Orange-crowned Warblers were noted from eleven locations on the Coastal Plain and n Virginia ’s Piedmont . A female Summer Tanager visited a feeder in Charlottesville from possibly as early as 17 Jan to at least the 25 Jan, and single Western Tanagers were reported to have been seen in Chesapeake in late December (a male), in Virginia Beach the week of 16 Jan (a female), and also in Virginia Beach 22 Jan (a male). Observers noted single Clay-colored Sparrows at five locations on the Coastal Plain, and two Lark Sparrows were reported on the Banister River W.M.A. C.B.C., Halifax 26 Dec, as well as single birds in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach . October and early November produced four Henslow’s Sparrows in Fauquier, Augusta, Franklin, and Buchanan, and a LeConte’s Sparrow was present at Rappahannock River Valley N.W.R., Richmond 18 Dec-12 Jan. Lapland Longspurs were found in four areas, with a high of 12 inAugusta 19 Nov, and Snow Buntings were found at five locales across the state, with a high of 4 on the Lake Anna C.B.C., Louisa 2 Jan. Searching through blackbird flocks yielded an imm.Yellow-headed Blackbird in Henricus 16 & 21 Oct, and both a male and a female near Kiptopeke S.P., Northampton 1 Jan. One Brewer’s Blackbird was reported from s Northampton 6 Nov, 2 were found in Buchanan 25 Nov, and up to 20 were at their regular haunts near Nokesville, Prince William 26 Nov-17 Jan. Purple Finches were widely reported, with a high of 44 at a feeder inShenandoah, but only one report of Red Crossbills was posted, a flock of 12-15 in Pulaski 2 Jan. Only single Common Redpolls were noted, at the C.B.B.T., Northampton 8 Nov and 7 Dec, near the Eastern Shore of Virginia N.W.R., Northampton 28 Nov, and in Falls Church 25 Jan. Pine Siskins, like Purple Finches and Red-breasted Nuthatches were widely reported, with a high count of 50 in multiple flocks flying along the Blue Ridge , Franklin30 Oct. Two sightings of Evening Grosbeaks were made, one of 11 at Snicker’s Gap 15 Nov and the other of 14 in a yard and at a feeder west of Warrenton, Fauquier.