Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I have a little catching up to do! Here goes!

Birds @ Town Point on Nansemond River - Suffolk, VA: Red-shouldered Hawk - 4/28 - 1 soaring N (very high/harassed by grackles)
White-eyed Vireo - 4/28
Tree Swallow - 5/6 - flocks over river during strong NE winds
Gray Catbird - 4/28 - dozens about
Black-throated Green Warbler - 4/28 - FOY - For some reason I mainly have fall records here. (Arrival Dates: 28-Apr-07, 08-May-93, & 31-May-99.)
Blackpoll Warbler - 4/28 - FOY - (Arrival Dates: 24-Apr-04, 28-Apr-07, 01-May-02, 06-May-98, 06-May-06, 10-May-05, 09-May-03, 15-May-00, & 15-May-01)
Common Yellowthroat - 4/28
Eastern Towhee - 4/28 - FOY
Bobolink - 4/28 - FOY - Large flocks have arrived. Note that a 4/28 arrival date has happened three times! (Arrival Dates: 25-Apr-98, 28-Apr-96, 28-Apr-97, 28-Apr-07, 01-May-93, 01-May-99, 08-May-05, 15-May-00, & 15-May-01)
Bobolink - 5/8 - Flocks continue to use the field bordering my front yard - I love to hear these birds in the early morning along with the Purple Martins.

Birds @ Nickawampus Farm in Accomack Co. - 5/2/07:
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Wild Turkey
- 10 gobblers 2 fields over from our farm. For the first time this year we have been seeing hen turkeys on our farm. Hopefully we'll see some poults soon!
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover - nice flock of 20+ along mudflat
Lesser Yellowlegs
- 1 along mudflat
Marbled Godwit - nice flock of 8+ along mudflat
Roseate Tern - 1 flying back out towards the inlet, calling, BEAUTIFUL
Common Tern
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
Pine Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Field Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
- There is a small breeding colony at the farm - 2 seen on this date.
White-throated Sparrow
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Orchard Oriole

Birds @ Bennetts Creek - Suffolk, VA - 5/6/07:
Great Egret
Wood Duck
Clapper Rail
Gull-billed Tern
- 1 cruising over marsh
Seaside Sparrow - 10+ singing
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I love this time of year. Much happening now that the weather has broken. Here are some firsts from the past week:

Black Skimmer - 4/21 (6th record from yard)
Chimney Swift - 4/25 (Arrival Dates: 4/10 to 5/1)
Great Crested Flycatcher - 4/25 (Arrival Dates: 4/25 to 5/1)
Eastern Kingbird - 4/23 (Arrival Dates: 4/18 to 4/30)
White-eyed Vireo - 4/25 (Arrival Dates: 4/9 to 4/26)
Prairie Warbler - 4/23 (Arrival Dates: 4/21 to 4/23)
Blue Grosbeak - 4/25 (Arrival Dates: 4/24 to 5/27)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Weekly Update 4/20/07

Not much happening - weather has been horrible here on the river.

I think nothing else needs to be said re: the VT horror. I know everyone has the Hokies in their minds, hearts, & prayers.

I have a pair of mature BALD EAGLES hanging around. One had a 5lb+ rockfish which it flew off with. Not sure if it scavenged or caught it. I don't know of a local nest either. A friend of mine who lives in Isle of Wight County had one in his back yard on 4/17. It is not far from me as the eagle flies - may be one of "my" pair.

I had my first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (a male) of the year on 4/16 while we were having strong winds.

On 4/14 I found a BONAPARTE'S GULL over the Nansemond River. I remember that boneys were much more common here about 15-20 years ago.

ROYAL TERNS are present now in the dozens over the river. Yesterday a pair of LESSER YELLOWLEGS passed over.

I think the most memorable sight this past week was the show put on by hundreds of TREE SWALLOWS on 4/15. I was working out in the yard and noticed a few skimming my front yard. The Tree Swallow is a beautiful bird - I love the blue-green sheen to the backs of these birds. Anyway, the "storm" had abated somewhat and turned quite warm (70 deg) and I eagerly took advantage of this moment to goldbrick and watched the swallows. I noticed that there were hundreds of swallows (both Tree and Barn) extending many 100's of feet into the air. They seemed to be pushed by a storm front which was bearing down upon our point in the river. The strong wind quickly passed and took the swallows (plus the warmth) with it. The temperature dropped about 15 degrees as I reluctantly returned to work.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Royal Terns arrive - plus "snow"birds & more!

Weekly happenings:
1. Royal Terns returned (reterned?) here on the Nansemond River in Suffolk on 4/6. Return dates vary greatly from 3/17 to 4/20.

2. I can now count eleven (11) Osprey nests on the river from my kitchen window alone. I have observed much more interaction between the pairs this year. There have been many chases as Ospreys encroach too close to other nests.

3. I heard my first Northern Bobwhite calling last Tuesday from across the river.

Easter-eve Snow!
I woke up on Saturday (4/7) morning to rain (but it would change over and leave a little under an inch of snow by noon). As I scanned the river I found 25+ Forster's Terns and a Great Egret. The terns were whipping around like a wind driven snowstorm - a precursor to the snow we would have later on in the morning. Later, a dozen or so Tree Swallows swept by close to the water trying to dodge the wind & snow. The three pairs of Purple Martins certainly did not appear to enjoy the weather at all! But all are active today so they appear to have survived the storm. I'm attaching a still pic of them & a video clip will be found at www.birdingva.com.

Good Birds!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Barn Swallow, Field Sparrow, Drenched Eagle!

New arrivals: Barn Swallow (3/31), Tree Swallow (4/1), Field Sparrow (3/31 - we didn't have any in the yard this winter).

Arrival Data for Barn Swallow:

Also, I observed a young Bald Eagle atop on of the power towers. The bird was drying his wings like a cormorant or vulture after being caught in a thundershower (i.e., outstretched to catch the wind & sun). Something I hadn't observed before.

Good Birding!


Monday, March 26, 2007

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3/24/07!

On Saturday (3/24) I heard (& later saw) a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Here are my arrival dates for BGGN in the yard from the past few years:


Also, I can now count nine (9) active Osprey nests from my back deck overlooking the Nansemond River (without moving my tripod)! I think it is the first time that ALL of the power transmission towers that I can see (actually on the river) have active nests. Must be a lot of shad in the river.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More News from the Nansemond River

Well - not much to report!

I scanned the river from my kitchen this AM. I counted 11 Ospreys and 8 active nests. There are at least 4 more nests that I cannot see from this vantage point. What a great recovery for these birds. When I was growing up here there probably weren't 5 nests around the Chuckatuck Creek/Nansemond River/Crittenden area.

Another sign of spring would be the first Great Egret from the yard this year. We had a couple on the Christmas Count but this was the first I've seen from the house for the year.

Ducks: Still good numbers of Canvasback, Lesser Scaup, & Ruddy Ducks, although I would estimate that there are only 50% of the ducks that were here at the end of January. Won't be long and the ducks will return north.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Weekly Update

Back in VA . . .

Well - I just spent a week in the relatively "birdfree" Turks and Caicos islands (southern part of Bahamas). I was shocked by the paucity of birds down there - not just number of species, but numbers period! But it was nice to go a week w/o seeing a House Sparrow or Eur. Starling!

Best birds: Bahama Woodstar, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, WT Tropicbird, and a Yellow-throated Warbler that kept residence in a palm tree outside my window. I like to see "our" birds in far off lands!

Upon my return, I see that the Ospreys have made great progress at nest building. I think most of the pairs have returned. Plus the black-headed Laughing Gulls have returned. Definitely a sound of early spring to hear them calling. I await swallows & gnatcatchers to complete my early spring. AND the Boat-tailed Grackles are back displaying on our property. Never have been able to find any nests - they must be here though.

As I type this sitting here in my office I hear Purple Martins overhead! Glad I put the houses up this past weekend. Anyone else have new arrivals?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ospreys in Love

Not much to report here in Suffolk but Sunday morning we were awakened to an Osprey "singing". The bird was perched near my bedroom window and was calling incessantly. Later in the morning I scoped two Ospreys. So - I guess one of the first signs of spring around these parts.

We found one bird on the CBC on Jan. 1 but I haven't seen it again since. The birds have a lot of work to do. Most of the nests have been cleared off of the channel markers and the ones on the power towers are sparse due to Ernesto and other storms we've had since last nesting season.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Weekly Update!

Not much happening - Highlights from yard would be a Northern Harrier on 2/17.

Year yard list stands at 63 and my life yard list stands at 198. Last year I added Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Brown Noddy, Black-billed Cuckoo, Chuck-will's-widow, Western Sandpiper, & Blue-winged Warbler. Can't wait to see 2007's additions!

My regular arrival date for Blue-gray Gnatcatcher ranges from 3/27 to 4/1 (a little over a month away!) - I'm always looking for ways to herald spring's arrival!

Finally - I've been following the expansion of Wild Turkeys into the area - this picture is just across the river - if they ever make it to the back side of that farm I just may be able to scope 'em and add 'em to my yard list! I'll also have to get my bionic ear out - maybe I can hear a gobble in a couple of months on a calm morning.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Well, I have made another foray into the marshes of Bennett's Creek. I have been quite unable to come up with ANY shartptailed sparrows. This is the SAME marsh that I was able to count dozens in last winter. The marsh is pretty laid down due to storms - perhaps this has contributed to it. I only saw two sparrows, both unid'd. Didn't seem to be sharptaileds - I would guess Swampies but I just didn't get on them.

I'll post again in about a week.

Good Birding!


Thursday, February 8, 2007

January 31 trip to Nickawampus Farm, Accomack Co.

Accomack County list stands at 189, Nickawampus Farm list: 125

Finished putting up the new Purple Martin house (I set the bottom pole last year - figured it was time to put the other poles & house up - my earliest date for PUMA in Suffolk is Feb. 2!)

Double-crested Cormorant
Turkey Vulture
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Northern Bobwhite
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs