[va-bird] new years day birding

  • From: Susan Heath <sheath@xxxxxxx>
  • To: VA Birds <va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 01 Jan 2005 20:45:00 -0500


I just returned from the eastern shore where I spent two days birding 
with my Florida birding buddy Robin Diaz.  We had a great time and saw 
some really nice stuff starting with that Razorbill on the CBBT 
yesterday.  This morning we got up early and headed out to begin the new 
year with Virginia Rail along Magotha Road.  I have never heard as many 
at one time as I did this morning.  They were calling from both sides of 
the road.  We counted at least six individuals but there were most 
likely more.  We also tallied two screech owls in the little woods there 
before heading to the refuge.  We stopped just at the entrance to the 
visitor's center and discovered an absolutely gorgeous American Woodcock 
specimen that had apparently been hit by a car just moments before.  
"Woody" was put on ice and will serve as a fine addition to the GMU bird 
collection.  We ticked off Great Horned Owl there.  Next we walked down 
ramp road and watched thousands of Snow Geese come up out of the marsh 
and head off to feed.  It was incredible.  On the walk out we heard then 
saw a Marsh Wren along the road and heard several Clapper Rails. 

It was light by then so we started birding for "day" birds (not Todd or 
Fenton Day birds though!). 
A couple of our best finds were a Vesper Sparrow along the road into 
Custis Tomb and a whole flock of Redheads on the pond there.  At 
Kiptopeke we found the Red-neckd Grebe mentioned by Ned but somehow 
missed the Horned Grebes.  There was a gorgeous Peregrine Falcon sitting 
on the sunken ships which was pointed out to us by another pair of 
birders and the other more usual stuff.  Back at Magotha Road in the 
daylight we found a couple Fox Sparrows and an Orange-crowned Warbler 
(ironically the only regularly occuring warbler in VA that I missed last 
year).  We ran into Ned, Fenton, and Chris after that and abandoned our 
previous plans to find a live woodcock at the refuge and headed into 
Kiptopeke to find the goshawk.  Then to Cape Charles where we found 
Ned's Cackling Goose and a couple Redheads on the lake there.  Then to 
Ned's house where we found the Ruby-throated Hummingbird sunning itself 
on this very warm January day.

Finally we headed for the CBBT and found some female Harlequin Ducks on 
island 4 and a pair of Greater Scaup.  We worked all four islands 
eventually coming up all three scoter species, two gannets, both 
cormorants and numerous flocks of Long-tailed Ducks.  I confess that we 
didn't work the gulls very much and thus could easily have missed 
something good.  There was a large flock of Bonaparte's Gulls off island 
2 but they were pretty far and didn't feel comfortable trying to sort 
out a Little Gull.  We couldn't find a Red-throated Loon on the CBBT 
despite seeing several yesterday so on a whim we stopped by First 
Landing State Park where we found Bob Anderson and Thuy Tran watching 
the Clark's Grebe.  That was a fine topper to a fine day.  Robin 
eventually found a Red-throated Loon as well to bring our list for the 
day to 91 species.  Not bad for January 1!

Happy New Year everyone and great birding!


Susan A. Heath
George Mason University
Environmental Science Department
Fairfax, VA

Secretary, Virginia Avian Records Committee
Keeper, Virginia Comp List at www.virginiabirding.org

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