Sat 31 Dec 2011
While all the reports aren’t in yet it looks like Wednesday’s high winds put quite a damper on the Central Loudoun CBC in terms of individuals or at least that was the impression of many of the more than 110 counters of which a healthy number were children. Photos from the count can be seen in our CBC 2011 Facebook Album.
Nonetheless, the different teams did find four species that have not been previously reported on this count: SNOW BUNTING at the county landfill, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE on a private pond a little north of Leesburg.
There was also a GOLDEN EAGLE flying over Camp Highroad near Philomont, and a PEREGRINE FALCON seen from the VA shore flying over the Potomac River into MD near White’s Ferry.
The first two were photographed as well as a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE at the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project where a VIRGINIA RAIL was also found. [Photo here is of the Shrike by Gerco Hoogeweg]
Additionally there were numerous other highlights such as a displaying AMERICAN WOODCOCK early in the morning near Beaverdam Reservoir, 36 AMERICAN PIPITS in muddy fields along Tail Race Road, a flock of 62 WILD TURKEYS at the south cell of the Dulles Greenway Wetlands, 5 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS north of Aldie, and 20 HORNED LARKS at the county landfill.
Some birds, as they have been all season, were much rarer than usual such as a single RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and much lower than usual numbers of RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS, probably because of the lowest mast year in recent memory.
Not surprisingly few owls were observed as it is very difficult to hear owls when it is as windy as it was on Wednesday. At this time it looks like there may have been only one GREAT HORNED OWL and one EASTERN SCREECH OWL found, considerably less than previous years.
One sector team which has found as many as a half dozen Barred Owls on previous counts thought itself lucky to find just one this year. However, good numbers of other raptors were seen. Two different MERLINS were found, one hunting a farm near Waterford and the other perched on a tree right below the National Cemetery at Ball’s Bluff, as well as a number of BALD EAGLES, RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, RED-TAILED HAWKS, and both local accipiter species.
Waterfowl diversity appeared to have been about average with WOOD DUCKS probably being the most unusual sighting for this time of year. COMMON RAVEN numbers may have been lower than normal but it was nice to find a pair of COMMON RAVENS at a silo where they have been observed perching year round for at least two years now.
As is often the case on a bird count one of the nicest sightings of the day was four RIVER OTTERS playing in a large private pond near Lincoln, the same location they were seen for International Migratory Bird Day.
We ended the day with a well-attended Tally Rally at the Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg. Photos from the Tally Rally can be seen here on our Facebook page.
Good birding, Joe Coleman