On October 12th, a damp & very overcast & occasionally rainy morning, four people showed up for the regular monthly bird walk at the preserve. We decided to take the “Greenway’ through the meadows all the way to the far eastern side of the nature preserve with a side trip along the edge of the woods on the way back. In spite of the weather there were a lot of individuals though species diversity was somewhat lower than average for previous Oct. walks at Banshee Reeks due to some unusual misses such as most of the raptors we usually find there.
Taking the gravel road in front of the Visitor Center we almost immediately found the highlight of the walk, a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. It was seen flitting back & forth over the gravel road from a patch of briars and scrub to the new David McCarthy Wildflower Meadow and was in with several other birds including a couple of Chipping and Song Sparrows. It was a small sparrow (appearing to be a bit smaller than the chippies it was with and a lot smaller than the Song Sparrows) and was an adult in non-breeding plumage. It had a clear buffy chest with the buffy flanks standing out as well as a very distinctive buffy supercillium and a brownish rump and distinctive lateral throat-stripes. Because this was a bird that none of us were familiar with we spent some time looking at it and the field guides we had with us before it disappeared further back in the brambles & scrub. A little later and a couple hundred yards further we saw it (or a second Clay-colored Sparrow) along the Greenway close to the garden. This one had the same markings and was mixed in with a larger group of Chipping and Field Sparrows as well as a few Song Sparrows and Bluebirds. It appeared to be smaller than the chippies & esp. smaller than the Field Sparrows.
Other highlights of the walk included a juvenile Northern Harrier seen right before we saw the Clay-colored and the sheer quantity of sparrows along with several Phoebes and Catbirds. Our only warblers were a couple of Palms and a Common Yellowthroat. We were also surprised to see a Goldfinch feeding a fledgling. See below for complete eBird list of the 41 bird species seen at Banshee Reeks. 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.
Good birding, Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co
Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, US-VA Oct 12, 2013 8:00 AM – 11:10 AM Protocol: Traveling 1.75 mile(s) 41 species Canada Goose 70, Mallard 12, Turkey Vulture 2, Northern Harrier 1, Mourning Dove 8, Belted Kingfisher 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 7, Downy Woodpecker 4, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker 12, Pileated Woodpecker 2, Eastern Phoebe 12, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow 2, Carolina Chickadee 8, Tufted Titmouse 6, White-breasted Nuthatch 3, Carolina Wren 6, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4, Eastern Bluebird 20, American Robin 3, Gray Catbird 12, Brown Thrasher 1, Northern Mockingbird 20, European Starling 12, Cedar Waxwing 1, Common Yellowthroat 1, Palm Warbler 2, Eastern Towhee 5, Chipping Sparrow 6, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW 1, Field Sparrow 6, Song Sparrow 15, Swamp Sparrow 1, White-throated Sparrow 12, Northern Cardinal 15, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird 6, House Finch 2, American Goldfinch 20 One of the Goldfinches was feeding a fledgling.
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S15385132
This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org/VA)