Archive for July, 2010

On July 24th, Del Sargent led the regular monthly Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center in northwestern Loudoun Co.  At the same time Marcia Weidner & Joe Coleman led a small group of Cub Scouts and their parents on a much shorter walk in both time & distance.
As Del wrote: Five very heat tolerant birders braved the hottest day this year in Loudoun County to trek the woods of the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship.  We planned our walk so that we were generally in the shade, which was basically the Farmstead Loop.  The big find for the day was a family of KENTUCKY WARBLERS with very impatient young begging for food.  Two Black Vultures sat on the roof of the house where they were probably hatched.
It was an int’g day w/the butterflies already active at 6 am and most birds quiet by 8 am.
Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship which is open every day of the year can be found at   Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy many free walks and programs can be found at
A total of 36 species on both walks were tallied:
Great Blue Heron, Black Vulture , Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo , Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, American Crow, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler. Common Yellowthroat, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Common Grackle, Orchard Oriole, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow


On July 17, a total of 12 people found 17 different butterfly species on a very hot & humid Butterfly Walk at the Blue Ridge Center.  Most of the two-hour walk was spent on the organic farm which was, by far, the most productive spot we visited.  The reason for this was that with the exception of some thistles, little was flowering in the fields.  However, it looks like a lot of the late summer flowers should be blooming in time to make the Blue Ridge Center a great place to visit for our Annual Butterfly Count on Saturday, August 7.
While there were a lot of butterflies, there wasn’t as much variety in species as expected.  The highlight of the walk was an AMERICAN SNOUT that landed and briefly perched on one of the participants.  Interestingly enough a HACKBERRY EMPEROR, as they are prone to do, landed on the same individual a little while later and wouldn’t leave. 
Most of the butterflies we saw were CLOUDED SULPHURS and SULPHURS, though there were also a fair number of EASTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAILS, including several dark morph female, EASTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAILS.  We also saw Spicebush Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Eastern-tailed Blue, Variegated Fritillary, Great Spangled Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Silver-spotted Skipper, Horace’s Duskywing, Least Skipper, Peck’s Skipper, Little Glassywing, and Dun Skipper. 
Three weeks ago during the regular monthly bird walk on June 26, when a lot more was blooming, we had more diversity and in addition to the above butterflies also saw Pipevine Swallowtail, Zebra Swallowtail, Meadow Fritillary, Red-spotted Purple, Northern Pearly-eye, and Monarch butterflies.
For more information about the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, one of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s partners and open to the public every day of the year, visit
To sign up for the Annual Butterfly Count visit


Five of us birded the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve on July 10.  When we arrived the rain was still coming down pretty heavily but by 8:15 had tapered off considerably and was finished by 8:30 am.  Because a lot of the birds were very wet fledglings identification was rather tough for the first hour or so and resulted in some rather int’g discussions over behavior and shape.  And of course none of us had a guide with us that showed fledgling plumage well.  It was a lot easier after it dried out.
The highlights at Banshee included a lot of Blue Grosbeaks, prob. more than most of us have ever seen before, including some recently fledged youngsters begging as well as beautiful adult males.  We also had very healthy numbers of Common Yellowthroats, Yellow-breasted Chats, Eastern Towhees, Field Sparrows, and Orchard Orioles.  Many of these were also recently fledged and begging birds.
After wrapping up at Banshee Reeks, Donna Quinn & I drove over to the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project where we spent a little less than an hour and found several shorebird species including four SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS.
The regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy ( and the Friends of Banshee Reeks (; information on both and their upcoming events can be found on their websites.  On these Saturdays, depending on the weather & the time of the year, we often visit the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project either before or after the Banshee walk.
Good birding,
Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co
Location:     Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08
Observation date:     7/10/10
Number of species:     51

Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern), American Kestrel, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Prairie Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch

Location:     Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project
Observation date:     7/10/10
Number of species:     26

Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher (Atlantic), Mourning Dove, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Wren, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Common Yellowthroat, Field Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle (Purple), American Goldfinch