Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Southern California Trip – November 7-14, 2017

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

A group of club members journey across the country for an amazing 8 days of birding lead by FBC member Mike Lott and his brother Tony. Click the link below to share in their experiences.

California Trip Report

FBC Blandy Experimental Farm, Sky Meadows and Short-eared Owls Outing – January 20, 2018

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

Perhaps the largest group in club history ventured out to northwest Virginia in search of Short-eared Owls, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and other winters species. The day would not disappoint. Please click the below link to read about our fantastic day of birding.

Blandy Farm Trip Report

Birds of the Fredericksburg Canal Path Checklist

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

The University of Mary Washington has generated a checklist of the birds that can be sighted on the Fredericksburg Canal Path. Click on the link to see the checklist.

Canal-Path-Birds-Checklist-Brochure-Feb-2014

Stratford Hall Geo Series: Are birds Dinosaurs

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Dupont Library – Stratford Hall – February 10, 2018 – 9:30 – 12:00

Dr. Andrew Dolby, a nationally recognized ornithologist demystifies the evidence supporting avian evolution and pre-avian dinosaurs. He poses an interesting question and offers some background:

Tyrannosaurus rex at my bird feeder? It may be hard to fathom that the chickadee at your feeder is close kin to the mightiest predators to ever roam the earth. However, biologists have long suspected a historical relationship between dinosaurs and birds. Evidence supporting such links between animal groups can be difficult to find, but over the last two decades, troves of new fossils and a variety of new laboratory techniques have been rapidly piecing together the origins of birds. Can we settle the question: are birds dinosaurs?

Andrew Dolby, University of Mary Washington’s (UMW) Department of Biological Sciences, will review the evidence for this fascinating evolutionary story in an illustrated presentation and field observation. Dr. Dolby has been a UMW faculty member for 18 years and teaches courses in ornithology, ecology, and evolution. Additionally, he leads field trips to the Galapagos Islands and Panama and conducts field research on birds. Schedule of Activities:

  • 9:30: Event begins with refreshments
  • 10:30: Following a Q/A and break, Dr. Dolby will lead a field observation on the grounds of Stratford focusing on the concepts brought up in the lecture
  • 12:00: Event ends

Cost: $20 all ages welcome! Children 11 and under are free.

February Outing – Outer Banks Weekend with VSO

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

Our February 2-4 trip will be to join the VSO Winter Field Trip to the Outer Banks, NC.  Please go to the VSO website at http://www.virginiabirds.org to register and email me.  I will send out more information closer to departure.

FBC January Outing to Blandy Experimental Farm

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

Our first club outing for 2018 is Saturday, January 20th to Blandy Experimental Farm, with an opportunity to look for Red-headed Woodpeckers at Sky Meadows State Park and Short-eared Owl’s at dusk.

It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Fredericksburg to Blandy, so we’ll plan to car pool and depart from the route 17 commuter lot at 7:30am. For those wishing to drive direct, meet us in the Blandy parking lot at 9:00am.  Please let me know, ahead of time, if you plan to participate and, if you wish to car pool.

After birding Blandy, we will have lunch at the Lone Oak Tavern, in nearby Boyce.  Depending on time, we will then stop in at Sky Meadows State Park and look for Red-headed Woodpeckers before driving the short distance to Stone Bridge and wait for dusk in the hopes of seeing Short-eared Owls.

Admission to Blandy is free, however donations to the Foundation of the State Arboretum are always welcome.  There is a $5 entrance fee for Sky Meadows State Park.

http://www.blandy.virginia.edu
http://www.loneoaktavern.com
http://www.dcr.virginia.gov (Sky Meadows SP)

FBC Bombay Hook and the Delaware Shore – August 26-27, 2017

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

by Sally Knight

Five club members – Dave and Georgia Patton, Scott Byrd, Brenda Chase and myself – headed to the Delaware Shore Saturday, August 26 and met at the Bombay Hook visitor center at 9:00am.  We couldn’t have picked a nicer weekend weather wise – sunny, blue skies and a light breeze to keep the biting insects at bay.  Turned out several other bird clubs had chosen the same weekend and it was pretty busy outside the visitor center. As we gathered, we quickly picked up our first birds of the trip – Horned Larks were seen in the bare potato fields at the corner of route 9 and Leipsic Road, a good number of Purple Martins were still hanging around the martin houses and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds zipped between the feeders and flower blossoms, to name a few.

Taking two cars we started the drive around the wildlife reserve, making frequent stops at the various ponds.    Raymond Pool, at first glance, looked empty, but we soon realized that was not the case.  There were Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Snowy Egrets, and Lesser Yellowlegs.  At Shearness Pool we had Great Egrets, American Avocets, Forster’s Terns, Semi-palmated Plovers, Mallards and Glossy Ibis, among others. Brenda spotted a Marbled Godwit, a large sandpiper with a long pinkish bill with a black tip, which stood out against the small peeps.  A Black-crowned Night-Heron was spotted by David in the long grasses at the edge of the ditch and a Clapper Rail was seen briefly.  One of the highlights of the trip came when all the waders took to the air as a pair of Peregrine Falcons blasted over the pool looking for a mid-morning snack. We were treated to

an up-close, aerial display as the falcons continued to chase the scattering flocks hoping for one to falter.  Our last stop before lunch was Beaver Pond where we picked up 6 juvenile Little Blue Herons and a Belted Kingfisher. Driving away, we spotted an ungainly, fledgling Goldfinch with its distinctive gape, still evident, clutching a grass stem close to the road.

Circling back to the visitor center we stopped for our picnic lunch, glad to have some shade as the day was heating up. A good spot to watch song birds, we were entertained by a family of Eastern Wood Pewees and got nice looks at a Black and White Warbler. After lunch we drove south to the DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve.  Here we added American Oyster Catchers, Ruddy Turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, Willet, Royal and Caspian Terns, Boat-tailed Grackles and a Spotted Sandpiper among others. This is a great spot to view shore birds from the elevated visitor center deck.

Heading back north we missed the turn off for Milford Neck Wildlife Area so continued on to Little Creek.  Here we took the boardwalk to the elevated tower to scan the wetlands. The pokeweed, close to the tower, was full of juvenile Common Yellowthroats, their presence given away by a ‘wet’ chip.  In the trees along the path we had Cedar Waxwing, Red-eyed Vireo, Tufted Titmouse and Cardinals.  Wild Turkeys were spotted on the road in and, as we left, we disturbed a raptor taking off from the ground with a snake.

 

By this time it was almost 6:00pm and the question of where to have dinner was on everyone’s mind. We decided to stop by Sambo’s in Leipsic, to see if they could accommodate us, before checking in to our rooms at the Days Inn.  We were in luck, despite being completely full, a table was just leaving so we grabbed it.  The reviews were decidedly mixed so we were pleasantly surprised by the friendly, quick service and quality of the food. It was an enjoyable end to a great day.

Sunday morning we met for breakfast and departed the Inn at 6:45am as the sun was coming up.  We decided to go back to Bombay Hook and experience the reserve at daybreak.  After a quick stop to see the Horned Larks, we stopped again at the park entrance where we got to see Blue Grosbeaks, a female Eastern Towhee, Mourning Doves, Cardinals, House Finch and Catbirds feeding in the morning dew. The highlight though were several Bobolinks flitting among, and perched atop, the long grasses in the morning light – a beautiful sight. Once we made it to the visitor center and started the drive we were happy to see the crowds were gone and we had the place, almost, all to ourselves. At Raymond Pool new trip birds were Stilt Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope and a singing, cooperative Marsh Wren.  Scott spotted a Magnolia Warbler and we had one of the Peregrine Falcons fly over the pool again.  At Shearness Pool on the far side I spotted an odd looking Canada Goose – it appeared to by a hybrid of some sort, maybe with a domestic Greylag Goose.  Too far away to get a photo.  We finished up at Bombay Hook with a walk along Saltmarsh Boardwalk Trail where we found a beautiful Tricolored Heron perched in a dead tree.  It was unconcerned, allowing us to walk right up and under the tree and get some killer photos!

We said goodbye to Scott and the four of us drove south to check out Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Apart from a nice, up close grouping of Short-billed Dowitchers, seen from Prime Hook Beach Road, we didn’t find anything exciting.  Fowler Beach Road was disappointing as the end is now permanently closed where we used to see Clapper Rails.   Now its used by men fishing and a few Ring-billed Gulls were hanging around waiting for some scraps.  Brenda and I made one final stop at the Prime Hook State Wildlife Management Area at the end of Little Neck Road.  A mature stand of hardwood trees, it appears to be used for hunting but no walking trails evident.  We did hear a Pileated Woodpecker, our last bird for the trip – bringing the trip count to 80 species.

 

Canada Goose

Mallard

Green-winged Teal

Wild Turkey

Double-crested Cormorant

Great blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Tricolored Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Glossy Ibis

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Osprey

Bald Eagle

Clapper Rail

American Avocet

American Oystercatcher

Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Stilt Sandpiper

Sanderling

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Wilson’s Phalarope

Spotted Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Lesser Yellowlegs

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Caspian Tern

Forster’s Tern

Royal Tern

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Peregrine Falcon

Eastern Wood-pewee

White-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Barn Swallow

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Marsh Wren

Carolina Wren

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Black-and-white Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Magnolia Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Eastern Towhee

Northern Cardinal

Blue Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting

Bobolink

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Boat-tailed Grackle

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

Shenandoah National Park – May 20, 2017

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

by Brenda Chase

Under early morning skies seven of our club members, Sally Knight, Maureen Hamm, Lily Graham, Brenda Chase, Alton Dick, David and Georgia Paton, headed west to Shenandoah National Park. Before rendezvousing at the Limberlost Trailhead at 7:30 am, some of us saw nesting barn swallows at the park entrance and had a barred owl fly right in front of our car. It was already an exciting day! Then, as we gathered at the trailhead, Georgia immediately spotted a bear wandering through the woods and we heard a wild turkey. We could also hear a wood thrush and Eastern wood-pewee and spotted American R edstarts, a scarlet tanager, chipping sparrow, downy woodpecker, tufted titmouse, and red-eyed vireo in the parking lot.

As we started on the trail we immediately noticed some cute chipmunks—then more chipmunks—then more chipmunks. This scene would have been quite adorable if their bird imitations (“chipping” and rustling of leaves) hadn’t fooled us so many times. I was rather amazed that they not only climbed trees but also were very comfortable 40-50 feet off the ground. After we got used to the chipmunks we were able to concentrate on hearing and seeing several warblers–hooded, black-throated blue, Canada, chestnut-sided, ovenbird, and many American redstarts. We kept hearing the haunting call of a veery and finally got some looks at one. Eastern towhees sang to us throughout the walk and Sally got on a female rose-breasted grosbeak.

We all got a wonderful view of a male rose-breasted grosbeak further south on Skyline Drive at the Crescent Rock Overlook.  The views were also spectacular when the clouds and mist weren’t rolling through. The sky alternated between sunny and foggy, but the temperatures remained comfortable. Continuing southward, we picked up a common raven and a bay-breasted warbler (heard for sure and glimpsed by Maureen) at the Hawksbill Gap Parking Lot. We enjoyed our picnic lunches at Big Meadows where we added juncos, goldfinches, and chimney swifts to our list.

Our final stop was at the South River Falls Parking Lot. We were immediately attracted by the calls of great-crested flycatchers. They were very busy carrying nesting material in and out of some holes in a dead tree. We were also treated to a great view of another lovely scarlet tanager and the songs of the wood thrush, towhee, and ovenbird.  Finally, after hearing ovenbirds all day we got some great looks at one.

A little after 3:00 pm we called it a day and headed toward home. Spending  this lovely time in Shenandoah National Park reminded us of how lucky we are to live so close to such a natural treasure. We vowed to return sooner rather than later!

 

Species List

Turkey Vulture
Wild Turkey
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Chimney Swift
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood Peewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
American Crow
Common Raven
Barn Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
Veery
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Canada Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch

FBC Crow’s Nest Trip Report – May 14, 2017

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Sunday, May 14, Mother’s Day, 6 club members joined Mike Lott for a walk through Crow’s Nest.  We met at the Brooke Road parking lot at 8:00am on a cool, clear, bright morning.  The birds were up and singing, so we spent a few minutes in the parking lot counting our first birds. Among those we heard were Hooded, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, and Common Yellowthroat warblers, Red-eyed Vireo, Catbird, Tufted Titmouse, and an Indigo Bunting.  We saw Cardinal, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a beautiful male Scarlet Tanager.   We then watched, fascinated by, two male Orchard Oriole’s as they displayed and postured in one spot for several minutes. We were not sure what this behavior represented – was it aggression or was it to impress a female?

We then headed towards the boardwalk and canoe launch through the woods. The water level on the creek was high and a beaver was spotted languidly swimming by.  We counted 7 Bald Eagles – both adults and juveniles, some perched and some soaring above.  Swallows were gliding over the water hawking insects and others were perched atop tall grasses on the opposite side of the creek.  This necessitated going back to the car to grab a scope to determine which species we were seeing. Turned out we had a good mix of Barn, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, and Bank Swallows – a beautiful sight as the sun caught their iridescent coloring.  Four pairs of Wood Ducks flew by and Great Blue Herons were dotted throughout the water vegetation.

After enjoying the sightings and beauty of the creek, we started down the woodland trail, which was very wet, indeed water logged in some places, after the heavy rain. Here, we continued to hear Wood Thrush but never saw one!  I had a short look at a Northern Waterthrush and we all heard and saw American Redstarts.  There were at least 3 or 4 Canada Warblers singing close by, but it took ages before we actually saw a couple.  There was a Kentucky Warbler signing in the distance and Mike picked up a Prothonatory, Yellow, and Black-throated Blue Warbler.  Magnolia Warblers kept us on our toes trying to catch them as they flited through the new green-leaved canopy.

Back at the boardwalk we ran into Joyce and Mike Bathke, who decided to turn round when faced with the muddy trail!   They joined Mike, David and I drive over to the newly opened interior section of Crow’s Nest off Raven Road.  The sun was now fully out and it had warmed up significantly.  Mike stayed in the parking area to supervise park visitors, David decided on the long hike, and Joyce, Mike and I took the short half mile trail as we had not planned ahead and brought our lunch!  It was a delightful walk through the woods with the mountain laurel in full bloom.  Here we heard more Wood Thrush and Ovenbirds and a Great-crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood Peewee.  Cardinals, Catbirds, and Carolina Chickadees were flitting around and back in the parking lot we got to hear and see the Summer Tanager that Mike says must have a nest close by.  On the drive back to the Brooke parking lot, we stopped on the Raven Road bridge and watched as an Eastern Phoebe flew under, caught a huge insect and perched close by.  We enjoyed a beautiful spring day and saw a total of 50 species.

 

 

Trip Participants

Brenda Chase

David Cox

Warren and Courtney French

Mike and Joyce Bathke

Sally Knight

Mike Lott

 

List of species

Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Mallard

Great Blue Heron

Osprey

Bald Eagle

Red-shouldered Hawk

Chimney Swift

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Wood-Peewee

Acadian Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Tree Swallow

Bank Swallow

Barn Swallow

Carolina chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Wood Thrush

Gray Catbird

Ovenbird

Northern Waterthrush

Prothonotary Warbler

Kentucky Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Hooded Warbler

American Redstart

Northern Parula

Magnolia Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Canada Warbler

Scarlet Tanager

Summer Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Indigo Bunting

Red-winged Blackbird

Orchard Oriole

American Goldfinch

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip Report, March 11, 2017

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

By Jim Goehring

Eight club members, dressed and braced for the cold, enjoyed a morning of birding at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, followed by a friendly conversation over lunch at Dixie Bones BBQ. While the temperature only rose to 39 degrees and mild winds occasionally exacerbated the cold, sunny skies made for an overall pleasant experience with good sightings and wonderful views. Participants included Scot Byrd, Brenda Chase, Jim Goehring, Maureen Hamm, Mike Lott, Mark Miller, and Dave and Georgia Patton.  Mike and Jim served as co-leaders.

We gathered in the refuge parking lot at 9:00 am and collected our first few species there, including a nice view of a singing Eastern Towhee, before heading out on our day’s walk. The day’s route back-tracked down Dawson Beach Road to Lake Drive and then followed Deephole Point Road out along the arc of Occoquan Bay to the marsh just beyond Easy Road, after which we returned via Easy Road back to the parking lot.

The field at the corner of Dawson Beach Road and Lake Drive was filled with Song Sparrows, which served as the beginning of their frequent appearance, along with Dark-eyed Juncos, all along our route. A stop at the blind on Marumsco Creek offered views of Hooded Mergansers, Green-winged Teal, a lone Mallard, and the first of the two Belted Kingfishers seen for the day. Here too we found an adult Red-headed Woodpecker. Beyond the mouth of the creek, we had our first glimpse in the distance of the rafts of Scaup awaiting us on Occoquan Bay.

The arc along the bay, buffeted at times by the wind, presented frequent vantage points to view and scope the thousands of waterfowl. Rafts of scaup aligned at various distances with the arc of the shore mottled the surface. We speculated that they                      numbered at least 5,000. While we imagined that the rafts included a few Greater Scaup, those that we saw and identified all appeared to be Lesser Scaup. A group of twenty Red-breasted Mergansers maneuvered among the Scaup, and we found a few Canvasback with their sloped bills diving along the edge of one raft, as well as a single Horned Grebe nearer the shore. The initial absence of any Bufflehead surprised us, though a few finally turned up towards the end of the road along the bay. The brush and treed areas along this section also offered opportunities to add to our list. A number of American Black Ducks turned up at the first marshy inlet that led to the bay, and two Winter Wrens were spotted in the brush along the shore. Here too we added two Hairy Woodpeckers, as well as additional Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, and Northern Flickers. One Downy Woodpecker was particularly obliging for those with cameras as it worked a branch low and near the path.

Continuing on past Easy Road to the marsh, it proved empty of waterfowl, though a lone Belted Kingfisher and a single Great Blue Heron worked its waters. Shortly before we decided to turn back towards Easy Road, however, movement against the muddy shore of a small rill of water close to the path revealed a single Wilson’s Snipe. Its proximity and seemingly unfazed concern at our ogling presence quickly made it the star of the day. Its gorgeous bright colors and intricate patterning amazed everyone, and all remarked on its perpetual “bobbing” as it moved along probing the mud, which on occasion coated and obscured its yellow legs.

The path back to the parking lot along Easy Road added a Common Grackle, and one of the adult Red-tailed Hawks of the day seemed to soar along with us as we moved along. Bald Eagles were common throughout the day, including two engaged in some close aerial contact. Osprey had returned, including one seen on a platform nest near the parking lot, and both Black and Turkey Vultures were seen. As we returned to our vehicles and stowed our gear, all expressed satisfaction for an enjoyable day and an eager desire to continue conversation over lunch.


Species List

Double-crested Cormorant 2

Horned Grebe 1

Great Blue Heron 7

Canada Goose 11

Mallard 1

American Black Duck 8

Green-winged Teal 10

Wood Duck 1

Canvasback 4

Lesser Scaup 5,000 (estimate)

Bufflehead 7

Hooded Merganser 6

Red-breasted Merganser 21

Turkey Vulture 9

Black Vulture 5

Bald Eagle 7

Osprey 4

Red-tailed Hawk 3

Wilson’s Snipe 1

Ring-billed Gull 37

Herring Gull 2

Belted Kingfisher 2

Red-headed Woodpecker 1

Red-bellied Woodpecker 2

Downy Woodpecker 3

Hairy Woodpecker 2

Northern Flicker 3

Blue Jay 3

American Crow 4

Fish Crow 6

Eastern Phoebe 1

Carolina Chickadee 9

Tufted Titmouse 3

Carolina Wren 9

Winter Wren 2

Golden-crowned Kinglet 1

Eastern Bluebird 2

American Robin 1

Northern Mockingbird 1

Northern Cardinal 5

Eastern Towhee 5

Song Sparrow 66

White-throated Sparrow 7

Field Sparrow 1

Red-winged Blackbird 4

Common Grackle 1

Dark-eye Junco 26