[va_co_birding] Northern Neck, Essex County goodies

  • From: "C. Michael Stinson" <cms@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <va_co_birding@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 6 Jun 2004 18:33:39 -0400

Hey folks -

I returned last night from a week (1-5 June) of bird survey work for the
Rappahannock River Valley NWR. I was teamed with Bill Williams for the
survey work and also got to bird with John Drummond, who was teamed with
Sandy Spencer in the mornings for surveys on different sections of the
refuge. Some of the refuge properties are covered in the VA birding trail
guide, others are not. Some are newly accquired. The survey work, as well as
the time in the afternoons after surveys were done, gave me an opportunity
to beef up my lists in several Northern Neck counties, as well as in Essex,
King and Queen, and King William on the Middle Peninsula. Until this trip,
my list totals in those counties were my lowest for any part of the state,
even the far southwest, so it was nice to get lots of new county birds.

Highlights included:

Dickcissels in Essex and Richmond counties, both on NWR properties
Bobolinks (lingering or nesting? we couldn't tell) in Essex Co., recorded on
three days
Barn Owl in Westmoreland County
a fly-by Plegadis ibis in Essex County (presumably Glossy, but who knows?)

Since the surveys are designed to count grassland birds, it's not surprising
that we also found quite a few Grasshopper Sparrows. There was also a Horned
Lark singing in flight over one of the fields one day.

The refuge has some beautiful properties, both the ones that are being
managed for grassland species and some others (or other parts of the same
ones). When you get around to working on lists for those counties, or just
want somewhere new to go birding, several units of the refuge are definitely
worth visiting.

Other random observations:

There are lots of Purple Martins on the Northern Neck. Bill was surprised at
the number compared to the decrease in the species he's seen around
Williamsburg. I'd say the same about the relative difference between the
Northern Neck and where I live.

We found a couple of spots with habitat that looks good for Bachman's
Sparrows, a couple of spots that looked good for Anhinga, and were looking
hard for kites the whole time we were there, but unfortunately didn't see
any of those birds. I know it's not Greensville County, but it never hurts
to look.

We heard a grand total of one nuthatch (White-breasted) the whole five days
we were there.

Wading through wet waist-high grass first thing in the morning can get you
just as wet as falling in the creek.

Mike S.

Buckingham County


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