Tue 31 Dec 2013
The Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, Dec. 29, was deluged with heavy rain in the morning. The rain started a little after 4 am & didn’t let up until early afternoon.
Surprisingly most of the registered participants showed up in spite of the weather and preliminary results (without all sectors reporting) indicate we had a good day birding. The species count, so far, is 86 which includes 2 count week species and is a little less than average for this count but that will probably change when all the results are received..
The highlights of the count include our first ever Vesper Sparrow, a count week Northern Saw-whet Owl, a Merlin, Red-breasted Mergansers, a Virginia Rail, and a Horned Grebe. And while the owl count was very low, one of the counters got a great photo of a Barn Owl peering down at him from the top of a silo.
Other highlights included 180 Common Mergansers at the Beaverdam Reservoir, and several flocks of Wild Turkeys in a variety of sectors, at least four different Eastern Phoebes, and 45 American Tree Sparrows at the privately-owned Dulles Greenway Wetlands.
Bob Abrams checked out the Loudoun County Landfill on Saturday because it is closed on Sundays and found all three of our winter gulls, including a Greater Black-backed, which is uncommon for this count, as well as at least 5,000 Ring-billed Gulls and 120 Herring Gulls, both of which would have been high counts for this CBC if it had been count day.
And while most of the county’s Red-headed Woodpeckers have migrated because of this year’s non-existent acorn crop a couple of the teams did manage to find a couple.
All of the participants who lasted into the afternoon talked about the many birds that came out when the rain quit.
One group had a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets busily feeding near the ground at their feet amongst a large flock .while another team managed to call in a Barred Owl which was followed by streams of small birds mobbing it. And a flock of Turkey and Black Vultures holding their wings out so they could dry out at a country church was a hit for another team.
The heavy rain did limit walking as many of the streams that are normally easy to step over were impassible and even some of the country roads ended up being closed because of flooding.
For many of us the afternoon light shining through the dark clouds was beautiful as it illuminated the countryside and many of the birds that came out to feed after a morning of hunkering down.
Joe Coleman, Compiler
Central Loudoun CBC