In spite of high winds which made for a pretty uncomfortable walk, the seven people who showed up for the Banshee Reeks walk yesterday morning found 34 species.
The highlights of the walk were eight COMMON MERGANSERS on a rain-swollen Goose Creek, two HERRING GULLS, one a first winter bird and the other a second winter bird, and a solitary AMERICAN TREE SPARROW.
The Common Mergansers (six males and two females), uncommon for Banshee, gave us great looks as they were in the fast water on the Goose right where the trail ends and stayed no more than a few feet from us long enough for everyone to see them clearly.
The American Tree Sparrow, one of the last birds seen before we tallied, flew into a bush right along the trail and also perched there long enough for all of us to leisurely study it.
And while the Loudoun Landfill, immediately north of Banshee attracts a lot of Ring-billed Gulls in the winter, it is uncommon to get many at Banshee and pretty rare to see and other gull species. Yesterday the flocks of Ring-billed Gulls, which were streaming into the landfill by flying across Banshee, included two Herring Gulls. Both their coloration and their size as they flew over us gave us great opportunities to compare them in size to the Ring-bills and in coloration to the juvenile Ring-bills.
It was also fun watching the different raptors cope with the high winds such. There was quite a contrast between an immature Bald Eagle flying without any apparent effort directly into the wind and an American Kestrel struggling to avoid being slammed into a tree.
At the beginning of the walk Del Sargent, who frequently co-leads the Banshee Reeks walk, provided his list of the Birds of Banshee Reeks in February. Del does one of these lists for the appropriate month for every walk & it is always fascinating to compare the current sightings to what was seen during the same month in the six previous years. The list clearly shows what common birds we’ve missed and what was an unusual species for that particular walk that month. Major misses yesterday included Canada Geese, Mourning Doves, Fish Crows, and Eastern Towhees – all of which were found on all the previous February walks.
See below for the complete eBird list of birds seen.
The regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (www.loudounwildlife.org) and the Friends of Banshee Reeks (www.bansheereeks.org); information on both and their upcoming events can be found on their websites.
Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co
Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, US-VA
Feb 9, 2013 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Mallard 2, Common Merganser 8, Black Vulture 6, Turkey Vulture 5, Bald Eagle 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Ring-billed Gull 175, Herring Gull 2, Belted Kingfisher 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 5, Downy Woodpecker 4, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 2, American Kestrel 2, Blue Jay X, American Crow X, Common Raven 4, Carolina Chickadee X, Tufted Titmouse X, White-breasted Nuthatch 3, Carolina Wren 6, Eastern Bluebird 4, American Robin 2, Northern Mockingbird 5, European Starling 12, American Tree Sparrow 1, Field Sparrow 3, Song Sparrow 2, White-throated Sparrow X, Dark-eyed Junco 40, Northern Cardinal 5, American Goldfinch 2