Highlights from the Calmes Neck Christmas Bird Count
Last weekend, January 4th, was the Calmes Neck Christmas Bird Count, which includes some wild nature spots in western Loudoun. Joe Coleman was one of the sector leads and he sent over a report (below) of some of the cool birds they saw that day. Overall, looks like another great birding adventure in and around Loudoun:
Seven of us covered Sector 10 of the Calmes Neck CBC on Sunday, Jan. 4. This sector covers western Loudoun Co from Snickersville Turnpike where it intersects with Rte 7 in Bluemont to a couple miles east of Airmont & south to Bloomfield. While one of the team reports is still outstanding we observed at least 58 species, including a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, the highlight of the day.
The LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, seen late in the afternoon, was on the northern edge of Great Country Farms near Bluemont, VA and about a 100 feet east of Foggy Bottom Rd, Rte 626, and about a half mile south of Rte 734, Snickersville Tpk. Interestingly enough this is very close to where they nested up until five years ago.
We also found numerous owls, most in the couple of hours before dawn. Many of them were vocalizing without the encouragement of any kind of audio-lure. In fact, when I walked out to get my newspaper at 3:45 am, I heard two different GREAT HORNED OWLS and a single BARRED OWL. Those of us who arrived early at our meeting place heard our first of several EASTERN SCREECH OWLS and by the end of the day we had, conservatively, ticked off at least 10 screechers, 3 GREAT HORNED OWLS, 2 BARN OWLS, and 5 BARRED OWL. We actually saw twp screech owls, one BARN OWL, and two BARRED OWLS. We also had permission to check several of the silos in the sector and while we saw only one BARN OWL in them, it was clear several of them had been recently used by Barn Owls.
What was fascinating was how well we did on owls this week esp. when compared to the previous Sunday when the Central Loudoun CBC prob. had its worst day ever owling. Int’g what a difference a week and weather conditions make for nocturnal birding.
We also found at least a dozen RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS, three of whom were first-year birds; ten of them were on were on Legacy Farm, mostly on the back side where they aren’t visible from the road.
We also saw two EASTERN PHOEBES, a couple of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS along Ebenezer Church Rd, Rte 779, and over 20 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS in a variety of locations.
However, we did very poorly on waterfowl (all still water was totally frozen) and the only icterids we found were 12 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS.
We had six diurnal raptor species including a NORTHERN HARRIER (rather hard to find in Loudoun County this year), 13 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, 7 RED-TAILED HAWKS, and a couple of AMERICAN KESTRELS.
Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co