Our Loudoun Bird Atlas has brought some great stories – here’s the latest from Joe Coleman in his sector:
This morning I decided to survey one of the private properties in my neighborhood for the Loudoun County Bird Atlas. With nesting season rapidly winding down and most birds no longer within safe dates I didn’t expect to find much but was hopeful I’d add one or two species. Because I haven’t been able to confirm nesting Bobolinks in my blocks this year, I hoped they might be on this property as it has had them in the past. This 90-acre parcel is largely meadow with a nice perennial stream as well as some nice wetlands near the stream (neither visible from the road), and all of it is protected by a conservation easement. Because the stream’s riparian buffer includes a no-mow area that section can be especially productive.
On the walk there I saw an American Kestrel begging food from one of its parents as well as some juvenile Eastern Meadowlarks, both of which had been confirmed for the survey earlier this summer. One of the reasons I really wanted to check out this parcel was that the meadow was only hayed about a week ago. Bobolinks, one of our latest nesters, have a hard time in our area because of haying and virtually every other field Bobolinks had nested in previously had been mowed either in late June or early July including one that another neighbor usually leaves until late just for the Bobolinks.
As I neared the stream and the no-mow area, a really odd looking bird, with odd splotches of color hopped up on a goldenrod plant. It had a large black patch on its chest. It was followed by a couple of other birds with a wide variety of odd colors in odd places. Then a female Bobolink popped up followed by a couple of begging juvenile Bobolinks and I realized the first few were male Bobolinks in the midst of molt. The dozen or so birds looked like a bunch of clowns except for the adult females.
In addition to the Bobolinks who entertained me for some time there were at least 25 Purple Martins, two of who were food begging, and a dozen of Barn Swallows, a couple of whom were also food begging. There was also a Willow Flycatcher who I heard calling long before cresting the hill down to the stream.
While the Bobolinks were the only new confirmation for the atlas, it was nice to find so much continuing evidence of successful nesting with species well outside of their safe dates.
near Bluemont, VA