The Whisky Drinking Warbler Watchers lived up to their name in both whisky drinking and warbler watching. Luckily, the latter activity was more productive than the former. Setting out on Sunday, May 7 and Monday, May 8, we canvased the great majority of Loudoun County from Algonkian Park to the Blue Ridge Center and from Piney Swamp to Middlesex Pond. Contributing to the team were Linda Millington, Robert Justin, Peter Lyttle and Scott Harris.
The highlight of our trip (well, for most of us), was finding a Barn Owl in southwestern Loudoun County. Linda Millington had arranged for us to bird on a private property because the homeowner wanted confirmation that there was a resident barn owl in her silo. As we approached the silo, there were obvious signs of occupation with large piles of scat and owl pellets on the ground below the feed channel on the side of the silo.
As Linda peered up the feed channel, two things happened in very quick succession: first, she saw an owl butt, and second, about a half cup of owl scat came rushing toward her. Unable to step aside quickly enough, it got her with a direct hit. We laughed till we cried, and got some tissues to wipe Linda up as best we could. She was a really good sport about it all since getting hit by an owl MUST be good luck!
But we still didn’t have a two-person confirmation, so Robert and Peter told Scott that he needed to look up the channel and see the owl. Very reluctantly Scott peered up the channel, at which time the owl actually exited the silo from another hole at the top, and we all got a good look as he flew into a nearby tree.
Despite the calamity, it was definitely the bird of the day. Other than the owl, we saw 96 species with orioles being very abundant this year. However, we may have been a bit early in our Birdathon since the warbler numbers were down from last year.
Read the full trip report at: https://ebird.org/tripreport/121032
Read about the adventures of the other teams on the 2023 Birdathon Team Summaries page.