Birding provides the best and worst of both time and weather. Having ‘weathered’ the previous Sunday’s wet Central Loudoun Count, the Calmes Neck Count’s Sector 8 team started out at 5:00am, Sunday Jan 5th near Round Hill.
We were thrilled as the sky was full of stars for the five early risers trying to listen for owls despite the frigid weather. After stopping at several desolated locations with no results, we sought out the hospitality of Tabby Finch near Edgewood. Tabby’s porch light was a welcome sign as we pulled in and almost immediately were treated with the far off call of a Great Horned; after some warming coffee and snacks, we headed back out to her porch and were once again alerted to an owls call; this time the local resident Barred Owl.
After saying our goodbyes, the group headed out into the dark once again, traveling south along the back roads towards Round Hill where we met up with the rest of the team for a hearty breakfast at Tammy’s Diner. Here we planned our strategy for the rest of the morning and chatted with the several local folks who came in for an early morning breakfast. After splitting the group into two teams we all set off once again to search for birds.
Of course, by this time it was just turning light enough to see them and our tabulations began to really grow—while the weather seemed to take a nose dive. Dawn arrived along with a sprinkle of rain-the latter of which continued to increase in intensity as the temperature rapidly dropped. By 11:45, after slipping and sliding on many back roads, ‘Team 2’ had completed their subsector, checked in with ‘Team 1’, and headed towards Anthony’s for lunch where all were to rendezvous. Nice warm location, good lunch—but alas, no ‘Team 1’.
Thanks to cell phones we learned our colleagues vehicle was stranded, but they walking (and Gatoring )out a mile or so, and asked to be picked up. Yeah for all wheel drive vehicles. Following our reunion at Anthony’s we again attempted to continue the count; slipping and sliding as we drove back towards Round Hill.
Discretion finally took over from foolishness and we decided to terminate our efforts for the day. Despite count totals of 41 species and 1841 individual birds being well below our average for Sector 8, everyone had an exciting, if not always enjoyable experience.
We vow to do better next year; hopefully be able to stay out longer and cover the entire area. Consider joining us next year; we always have a fun time, learn a little and enjoy both the company of friends and the scenery or western Loudoun.. Pictures of team one provided by Constance Chatfield-Taylor.