During the afternoon of Sunday, January 28, 24 people in three groups searched the back roads of Loudoun County for birds of prey while on a field trip sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.
One group was led by Gerco Hoogeweg, Bryan Henson, and Allison Gallo and covered the Lucketts area; another by Phil Daley and Liz Dennison covered the area south of Leesburg and around Lincoln; and the third by Joe Coleman covered the southern part of the county west of Rte 15.
All three groups got great looks at several active Short-eared Owls with seven along Lucketts Rd and perhaps as many as 10 in the vicinity of Foxcroft Rd and St Louis Rd, where a couple were perched high in trees prior to beginning their evening flight. One also interacted with an immature Bald Eagle once they started flying. Another highlight was a Barn Owl seen by one of the groups that had special permission to go on private property.
In addition to seeing the Short-eared Owls:
– Gerco, Allison, and Bryan’s group in the Lucketts area also found a Ross’s Goose, a Cackling Goose, Black Ducks, 10 Wild Turkeys, 2 Northern Harriers, 5 Red-tailed and 4 Red-shouldered Hawks,4 American Kestrels, 1 Red-headed WP, 2 Ravens, and a lot of White-crowned Sparrows
– Phil and Liz’s group, covering the area south of Leesburg and Purcellville, found 1 Northern Harrier, 8 Red-tails, 4 Red-shoulders, a Bald Eagle, 2 unidentified hawks, and a Great Blue Heron
– Joe’s group saw 1 Red-shouldered Hawk, 6 Red-tails, 2 immature Bald Eagles (one interacting with a Short-eared Owl), 2 unidentified hawks, 2 Eastern Meadowlarks in the same field as a couple of the Short-eared Owls, and a Great Blue Heron. Additionally on Tail Race Rd they found, in cut fields of corn, large flocks (over 500 birds in each) of Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and European Starlings.