As you may know, we’re in the 4th year of our 5-year Bird Atlas Project for Loudoun County. This year we’re making an extra strong push to get areas covered where we haven’t collected sufficient data yet. Below is a report from Gerco Hoogeweg on a recent excursion he and a few others went on in order to Bust some Blocks!
This morning, Donna, Spring, and I birded several blocks (Point of Rocks 5, 6 and Waterford 2) as part of the VSO Foray. Although the main objective is to collect additional information regarding breeding birds in Loudoun County, we tailed our birds too. We had a great time walking along the creek and through the fields in the cool morning while enjoying the birds and butterflies.
At 5 am my day started off with being woken up by a pair of very noisy Great Crested Flycatchers in the front yard shortly followed by an American Robin. Half an hour later, with a large cup of coffee in my hand, I was walking down the road listening to Field Sparrow, Wild Turkey, Indigo Bunting and Bluebirds. A little later Spring joined me and we walked along Catoctin Creek. Our biggest surprise was a fledging Northern Rough-winged Swallow that had crept of out the nesting cavity. One of the older birds was in the grass too. Both birds looked afraid but healthy, so we left them alone. Later I saw the fledging clinging to the rock wall.
Our next stop was the ecovillage north of Taylorstown. Last week I heard a single Prairie Warbler in that area and wanted to find it again. We were lucky, not only did we find it but we tallied 5 during our ecovillage walk. That was a wonderful surprise. We also tripped over the Gray Catbirds. I stopped counting them and the reported 54 is likely to a “slight” under count. Brown Thrashers were active too. For one of them, we came a bit too close to the nesting area, and it started to distract us. Ah, ha, that is a code DD for the BBA and a confirmed breeder!
Leaving the ecovillage behind we headed towards the river. The boat launch along Rte 15 is pretty much the only section in the Point of Rock block 6 were you can easily access the waterfront. We were not disappointed. With a little luck we found 1 if not 2 Prothonotary Warblers and a Louisiana Waterthrush. A squawk in the distance turned out to be a Green Heron. By now it was 10:10am and it was getting warm already. The birds were getting more quiet too. So on to the final stop.
Our final stop, if you can call birding from out of your car a stop, was the Waterford 2 block, specifically St Clair and Lucketts Rds. This stop turned out to be wonderful. Not only did we confirm breeding Eastern Kingbirds (seeing one leaving the nest makes it easy) we also found an Alder Flycatcher singing it’s heart out. The latter is a “non-breeder” as far as I know in Loudoun County and, ah crap, requires a verification form for the atlas. It was probably our best bird of the day. Next week, I’ll need to check this location again and see if the bird sticks around.
We tallied a total of 63 species and about a dozen were confirmed breeders. Many more were possible breeders. I can’t wait to see what surprise birds can be found next weekend in Waterford 1, 2 and Point of Rocks 5.
Species: 63 – Subspecies: 0 – Forms: 63
Total Records: 63
Canada Goose 30, Wild Turkey 1, Great Blue Heron 1, Green Heron 2, Black Vulture 2, Turkey Vulture 4, Osprey 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 2, Red-tailed Hawk 1, American Kestrel 1, Mourning Dove 10, Chimney Swift 9, Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2, Red-bellied Woodpecker 6, Downy Woodpecker 3, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 2, Eastern Wood-Pewee 3, Acadian Flycatcher 2, Alder Flycatcher 1, Eastern Phoebe 5, Great Crested Flycatcher 5, Eastern Kingbird 8,Red-eyed Vireo 3, Blue Jay 4, American Crow 16, Purple Martin 200, Tree Swallow 61, Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3, Barn Swallow 6, Carolina Chickadee 11, Tufted Titmouse 6, White-breasted Nuthatch 4, Carolina Wren 2, Eastern Bluebird 6, Wood Thrush 5, American Robin 10, Gray Catbird 61, Northern Mockingbird 2, Brown Thrasher 13, European Starling 38, Cedar Waxwing 7, Northern Parula 3, Prairie Warbler 5, Prothonotary Warbler 2, Louisiana Waterthrush 1, Common Yellowthroat 6, Eastern Towhee 20, Chipping Sparrow 14, Field Sparrow 13, Grasshopper Sparrow 1, Song Sparrow 2, Northern Cardinal 17, Indigo Bunting 16, Red-winged Blackbird 2, Eastern Meadowlark 1, Common Grackle 12, Brown-headed Cowbird 11, Baltimore Oriole 1, House Finch 3, American Goldfinch 55, House Sparrow 7