Pope’s Creek Outing Trip Report – January 21, 2017

By Scott Byrd

Three intrepid club members gathered on this mild winter day in search of the many species of wintering waterfowl to be found in the Northern Neck of Virginia.

Our first stop of the morning was at the LaGrange sand and gravel pits in western King George County. The pits are located off LaGrange Road and are situated on private property, so observations are limited to what we can see from the roads. Typically, quite a few species of waterfowl can be seen in 3 water-filled pits during winter months. This was the case for our stop. We spent about an hour peering through scopes, spotting 13 different species of ducks, geese, and swans. Most prevalent were Canada Geese, Tundra Swans, Gadwalls, Mallard, and Ring-necked Ducks. Present in small numbers were American Widgeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. In addition to the plentiful waterfowl, we also spotted a Northern Harrier and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks.

From LaGrange, we headed east out VA-3 to George Washington Birthplace National Monument, where we searched for more waterfowl along Pope’s Creek and the Potomac River. We started along Pope’s Creek near the Visitor’s Center, which did not prove to be very fruitful. In this area, it was almost entirely Canada Geese and Tundra Swans. We navigated away from the Visitor’s Center along the creek where we encountered Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Duck, and our first (but not last) hunters of the day. We finished up at GWBNM by heading over to the Potomac River. Here we found more hunters, some swimming dear, and lots of Buffleheads. This site wasn’t all waterfowl either. We also scored Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, and Brown Creeper as we journeyed between viewing spots along the water.

Our final stop of the day was a little further east of VA-3 on Longwood Road, which dead ends overlooking the Potomac. As we drove down the road towards the river we were treated to an American Kestrel, which was perched on a power line and several large gaggles of Canada Geese. At the river, we saw no hunters, but did see some of our best birds of the day. Most exciting was the four Long-tailed ducks we spotted diving for food about 150 yards off shore. We also got an excellent view of a pair of Common Goldeyes, clearly seeing their distinctive yellow eyes. Also present was a single Common Loon and many Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks. Not a bad finish to a productive day of birding.

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Tundra Swan
  3. Gadwall
  4. American Widgeon
  5. Mallard
  6. Northern Shoveler
  7. Northern Pintail
  8. Green-winged Teal
  9. Canvasback
  10. Ring-necked Duck
  11. Bufflehead
  12. Common Goldeneye
  13. Long-tailed Duck
  14. Common Loon
  15. Hooded Merganser
  16. Ruddy Duck
  17. Great Blue Heron
  18. Double-created Comorant
  19. Bald Eagle
  20. Northern Harrier
  21. American Kestrel
  22. Red-tailed Hawk
  23. Ring-billed Gull
  24. Belted Kingfisher
  25. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  26. Northern Flicker
  27. Blue Jay
  28. American Crow
  29. Fish Crow
  30. Brown Creeper
  31. Carolina Wren
  32. American Robin
  33. Northern Mockingbird
  34. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  35. Dark-eyed Junco
  36. White-throated Sparrow
  37. Northern Cardinal
  38. Red-winged Blackbird
  39. American Goldfinch

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