Entries tagged with “IMBD”.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy president, Nicole Hamilton, is known for her extraordinary vision and her dedication to fostering events that invite, have purpose, and put a spotlight on wildlife…but did you know that she ALSO participates in many of these events? An avid birder, Nicole and her team of birders (the Raucous Robins) enthusiastically competed in this year’s IMBD Birdathon. She tells us all about it in the following article. 

I will warn you…this read has the potential to spark binocular purchases and Bird Walk sign-ups (hint-hint:  here’s the schedule).

So now, we give you Nicole Hamilton and the “Raucous Robins” IMBD REPORT!

Sarah Steadman

Wow time really flew since our team went out for our big IMBD Birdathon day!  We want to thank all those who supported our team, and widely share a short summary of our 12.5 hour day.  In all we saw 90 species (the full list is below)!

Thank you all for rooting us on and showing your support both for our team and the work of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy!  It really means a lot to us all! Attached are a few photos from the day as well — birds, glorious birds, and a sweet fox that was camera shy!

Raucous Robins Birdathon 2014!
May 3, 2014, 7:00 am to 7:30 pm
Team members: Joanne Bradbury, Mike Friedman, Tess McAllister and Nicole Hamilton

We started out the day at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship at 7am in order to make sure we got the warblers and vireos at their most active time.  We weren’t disappointed. The birds were down low for most of the morning and were singing away. Gnats and Blue-gray gnatcatchers were a plenty. Northern Parulas were calling so heavily it seemed like they were everywhere!

As we got to the confluence of Piney Run and Sweet run we knew we needed to get a LA Waterthrush but before crossing the bridge we were delighted by a Kentucky Warbler at eye level singing and foraging. Then we crossed the stream and decided, “We’ll just go see for a minute and then we’ll turn back.” Well as we stood on the other side, we had an incredible showing of birds!  Veery, American Redstart, Scarlet Tanager, Black-and-white Warbler, Wood Thrush and Black-throated Blue warbler!  They were beautiful! We never did get a water thrush during the day but what great views of these other birds.

Another highlight were views of a Barred Owl that seemed to be curious about what we were up to. We had just finished identifying a bird when Joanne looked up and said — “an Owl!”  It preened and cleaned its feet before taking off.

From the Blue Ridge Center, we went to the Dulles Wetland, Banshee Reeks and then to the Reservoir.  This was the tough part of the day when the birds have quieted down.  We really worked for each species, but ticked off Wood Ducks, Horned Grebe, Bald eagle, Osprey and even a Red-shouldered Hawk on a nest.

For the last part of our day, we visited the Broadlands Wetlands where we had Baltimore and Orchard Orioles (plus nest building), Green Heron, and peeps (Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper).

By this point it was getting harder to tick off new species, and there were some glaring omissions of common birds that we rather needed. So we headed to Bles Park and had a lovely walk and a temporary drizzle. Here we thankfully added the Indigo Bunting, but that was the only new species.

Broadlands Wetlands Orchard Oriole

Broadlands Wetlands Orchard Oriole


Beaver Dam Rd, Red Fox

Beaver Dam Rd, Red Fox

BRCES, Barred Owl

BRCES, Barred Owl


BRCES, Scarlet Tanager

BRCES, Scarlet Tanager


BRCES, White-eyed Vireo

BRCES, White-eyed Vireo

We were at 89 species and the team was determined to at least hit 90. One of the misses of the day to that point was a Red-tailed Hawk, and we all agreed that we couldn’t go home having missed that…so we scanned the power lines as we drove Rte. 7 and there she was….”Hawk on wire,” I called out…but it was on the other side of the road up an exit ramp. Do we turn back? Yes! Tess made the u-turn and off we went. There she was — species #90 for the day!

We had a great day and were so thankful to have all of you rooting us on through your pledges and sponsorships!  We look forward to next year and going beyond 90!

Good birding,

Here is a full list of the 90 species that we tallied for the day:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Wood Duck
  3. Mallard
  4. Common Merganser
  5. Horned Grebe
  6. Double-crested Cormorant
  7. Great Blue Heron
  8. Green Heron
  9. Black Vulture

10.Turkey Vulture


12.Bald Eagle

13.Coopers Hawk

14.Red-shouldered Hawk

15.Red-tailed Hawk

16.Spotted Sandpiper

17.Solitary Sandpiper

18.Lesser Yellowlegs

19.Least Sandpiper

20.Ring-billed Gull

21.Rock Pigeon

22.Mourning Dove

23.Great Horned Owl

24.Barred Owl

25.Chimney Swift

26.Belted Kingfisher

27.Red-bellied Woodpecker

28.Downy Woodpecker

29.Pileated Woodpecker

30.Eastern Phoebe

31.Great Crested Flycatcher

32.Eastern Kingbird

33.White-eyed Vireo

34.Blue-headed Vireo

35.Red-eyed Vireo

36.Blue Jay

37.American Crow

38.Fish Crow

39.Common Raven

40.Purple Martin

41.Tree Swallow

42.Northern Rough-winged Swallow

43.Barn Swallow

44.Carolina Chickadee

45.Tufted Titmouse

46.White-breasted Nuthatch

47.Carolina Wren

48.House Wren

49.Ruby-crowned Kinglet

50.Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

51.Eastern Bluebird


53.Wood Thrush

54.American Robin

55.Gray Catbird

56.Northern Mockingbird

57.Brown Thrasher

58.European Starling

59.Blue-winged Warbler

60.Northern Parula

61.Yellow Warbler

62.Yellow-rumped Warbler

63.Prairie Warbler

64.Black-throated Blue Warbler

65.Black-and-white Warbler

66.American Redstart

67.Worm-eating Warbler


69.Kentucky Warbler

70.Common Yellow-throat

71.Yellow-breasted Chat

72.Scarlet Tanager

73.Eastern Towhee

74.Chipping Sparrow

75.Field Sparrow

76.Grasshopper Sparrow

77.Song Sparrow

78.White-throated Sparrow

79.Northern Cardinal

80.Indigo Bunting


82.Red-winged Blackbird

83.Eastern Meadowlark

84.Common Grackle

85.Brown-headed Cowbird

86.Orchard Oriole

87.Baltimore Oriole

88.House Finch

89.American Goldfinch

90.House Sparrow




An even dozen of eager birders enjoyed a warm morning bird walk at Banshee Reeks, May 10th, 2014.

The regular second-Saturday of the month bird walk is sponsored by Friends of Banshee Reeks and by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.  Additionally, this May walk also supported International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD).

A NASHVILLE WARBLER was the highlight of this walk.  It gave us all a healthy challenge to identify.  We used several field guides, compared those to the photo taken during the walk, and were ultimately convinced of the identity of this bird that is seldom seen at Banshee Reeks. What a find!  It just goes to show you how interesting birding during migratory season can be.

A total of 58 species were documented on this walk–WOW, what a variety (the list follows).
We encourage you to come out to our other bird walks and events as scheduled and seen online at Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

Our next walk is this Saturday:
Birding the Blue Ridge Center  Saturday, May 24, 8:00 a.m. On the fourth Saturday of each month (except December), Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy leads a bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, a beautiful 900-acre preserve in northwestern Loudoun County. The property includes diverse wildlife habitats, including meadows, streams, and heavily forested slopes. Meet at the Education Center; bring binoculars. BRCES is located just north of Neersville at 11661 Harpers Ferry Road, Rte 671; detailed directions at www.brces.org. This walk is co-sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and Northern Virginia Bird Club & led by Joe Coleman & Elton Morel. Questions: Contact Joe Coleman at 540-554-2542 or jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

May 10th at Banshee Reeks bird count and list:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Wood Duck 2
  3. Mallard 4
  4. Wild Turkey 1
  5. Great Blue Heron 1
  6. Black Vulture 6
  7. Turkey Vulture 6
  8. Osprey 1
  9. Bald Eagle 1
  10. Red-shouldered Hawk 1
  11. Killdeer 1
  12. Mourning Dove 4
  13. Yellow-billed Cuckoo 6
  14. Belted Kingfisher 1
  15. Red-headed Woodpecker 2
  16. Red-bellied Woodpecker 6
  17. Downy Woodpecker 2
  18. Pileated Woodpecker 2
  19. Eastern Wood Peewee 3
  20. Acadian Flycatcher 5
  21. Eastern Phoebe 1
  22. Great-crested Flycatcher 3
  23. Eastern Kingbird 2
  24. White-eyed Vireo 1
  25. Red-eyed Vireo 5
  26. Blue Jay 4
  27. American Crow
  28. Fish Crow
  29. Tree Swallow 4
  30. Carolina Chickadee 4
  31. Tufted Titmouse 4
  32. White Breasted Nuthatch 2
  33. Carolina Wren 3
  34. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8
  35. Eastern Bluebird 3
  36. Veery 1
  37. Wood Thrush 4
  38. American Robin 6
  39. Gray Catbird 8
  40. Northern Mockingbird 4
  41. Brown Thrasher 2
  42. European Starling 4
  43. Nashville Warbler 1
  44. Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
  45. Prairie Warbler 8
  46. Common Yellowthroat 10
  47. Yellow-breasted Chat 1
  48. Scarlet Tanager 3
  49. Field Sparrow
  50. Song Sparrow 2
  51. White-throated Sparrow 4
  52. Northern Cardinal
  53. Blue Grosbeak 1
  54. Indigo Bunting 4
  55. Red-winged Blackbird 4
  56. Common Grackle
  57. Orchard Oriole 6+
  58. American Goldfinch

Submitted by Del Sargent, Purcellville

Edited by Sarah Steadman



Birds can be heard and seen all over our area; they must know it’s almost International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)!

This month’s Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship was cheerfully led by Bruce Hill and Mary Ann Good.

All participants enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and a number of “First Of Spring” (more widely dubbed as FOS) birds and some hangers-on.

Returning residents included Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow throated Vireo, Purple Martin, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Blue-winged Warbler (well-seen by all), Cerulean Warbler, Am. Redstart, Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager glowing in the sun, and Grasshopper Sparrow.

Passers-through (again, they must know it’s almost IMBD) or hangers-on included Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s Thrush, Swamp Sparrow, and lots of White-throats.

Other exciting highlights were a Sharp-shinned Hawk taking a grab at a swallow– the swallow actually got away, 2 Common Ravens vocalizing throughout the walk, and a really close look at a singing White-eyed Vireo.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s monthly bird walks are FREE and open to the public of all ages.  In fact, as the summer months find our kids out of school, we encourage families to join in the fun with their children.  Children are naturals at seeing the slightest movement and hearing the higher pitched song birds; with a little instructional help from our wonderful guides, birding can become a wonderful family activity to be shared life-long. Think about inviting your neighbors and their kids to join us in May.

Also, as previously mentioned, IMBD is almost here!  Take a look at the online Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy IMBD events and REGISTER for some sure-to-be amazing bird walks.

Here is a preview of some of our upcoming events:
Celebrate Birds, Go Birding! International Migratory Bird Day
Saturday, May 3 – Sunday, May 11.

During the spring, thousands of migratory birds move through North America to their nesting territories. Some will stay and nest in our area, while others will spend only a few days here replenishing their energy before continuing a journey that may be thousands of miles long. To celebrate and highlight this natural phenomenon and the importance of natural habitats,

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has scheduled several IMBD walks between May 3 and 11. All walks begin at 8 am and require registration except for Birding Banshee.
Registration required: Sign Up Online
Questions: Contact Jill Miller at jmiller@loudounwildlife.org.

  • Birding Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park, Tuesday, May 6. Led by Bill Brown & Joe Coleman
  • Birding Camp Highroad, Friday, May 9. Led by Linda Millington & Christine Perdue
  • Birding Algonkian Regional Park, Saturday, May 10. Led by Bill Brown & Larry Meade
  • Birding Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, Saturday, May 10. Led by Del Sargent, Dori Rhodes, & Joanne Bradbury.
  • Birding Waterford’s Phillips Farm, Sunday, May 11. Led by Bruce Johnson.

Eyes to the sky,
Sarah Steadman
(Report submitted by Mary Ann Good)

The full list of birds seen from this walk follows;
you will be AMAZED at how many species were seen in such a short time:

  • Canada Goose
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Mourning Dove
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • No. Flicker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Am. Kestrel
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Yellow-throated Vireo
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Blue Jay
  • Am. Crow
  • Common Raven – 2
  • Purple Martin
  • Tree Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Car. Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Carolina Wren
  • House Wren
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • E. Bluebird
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Wood Thrush
  • Am. Robin
  • Gray Catbird
  • No. Mockingbird
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Eur. Starling
  • Blue-winged Warbler
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Am. Redstart
  • Ovenbird
  • La. Waterthrush
  • Com. Yellowthroat
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • E. Towhee
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Field Sparrow
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • No. Cardinal
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • E. Meadowlark
  • Com. Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • House Finch
  • Am. Goldfinch

Bird report by Mary Ann Good



On Saturday, April 12th,  Del Sargent & Joanne Bradbury led the regular monthly bird walk (sponsored every 2nd Saturday of the month) at Loudoun County’s Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve.

One highlight of the walk was not a bird but a probable Mink (there was some debate over whether it was a possible River Otter). It was well seen by the group as it scampered along the shore of the Goose Creek for about 50 yards. Some people thought it might be a young River Otter, but the time of year has not yet arrived for that.

While looking at a kettle of vultures, the group found two Broad-winged Hawks soaring high in the sky. Also, earlier in the walk, an Eastern Kingbird was fly-catching at the pond near the Visitor Center.

While there were numerous Eastern Towhees (at least 8) and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (at least 8), there was only one warbler–a singing Louisiana Waterthrush. Other highlights included a male and female American Kestrel, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. There were also at least 15 Spring Azure butterflies, a very fresh Zebra Swallowtail, and an Anglewing–probably an Eastern Comma.

See below for complete eBird list of the birds seen at Banshee Reeks on this walk.

The regular monthly, free bird walk (again, every 2nd Saturday of the month) 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.

Next month, there are two REGULAR birding events scheduled on May 10th at 8am; one at Banshee Reeks, the other at Algonkian Regional Park.

In addition, May is a GREAT time to come out to a birding event with our “Celebrate Birds, Go Birding! International Migratory Bird Day” events, Saturday, May 3 – Sunday, May 11.

“During the spring, thousands of migratory birds move through North America to their nesting territories. Some will stay and nest in our area, while others will spend only a few days here replenishing their energy before continuing a journey that may be thousands of miles long. To celebrate and highlight this natural phenomenon and the importance of natural habitats, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has scheduled several IMBD walks between May 3 and 11.
All walks begin at 8 am and require registration except for Birding Banshee.
Registration required: Sign Up OnlineQuestions:Contact Jill Miller at jmiller@loudounwildlife.org.

- Birding Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park, Tuesday, May 6. Led by Bill Brown & Joe Coleman
- Birding Camp Highroad, Friday, May 9. Led by Linda Millington & Christine Perdue
- Birding Algonkian Regional Park, Saturday, May 10. Led by Bill Brown & Larry Meade
- Birding Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, Saturday, May 10. Led by Del Sargent, Dori Rhodes, & Joanne Bradbury.
- Birding Waterford’s Phillips Farm, Sunday, May 11. Led by Bruce Johnson.

We encourage you to share your Loudoun County birding adventures with us on the  Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Facebook page, especially if you have photos from our bird walk events.

Submitted by Joe Coleman for Del Sargent & Joanne Bradbury
Edited by Sarah Steadman

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, US-VA

Apr 12, 2014 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.75 mile(s)
48 species

  • Cooper’s Hawk 1
  • Canada Goose 10
  • Wood Duck 2
  • Mallard 2
  • Black Vulture 15
  • Turkey Vulture 6
  • Red-shouldered Hawk 5
  • Broad-winged Hawk 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk 2
  • Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 1
  • Mourning Dove 12
  • Belted Kingfisher 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker 4
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
  • Downy Woodpecker 12
  • Northern Flicker 8
  • Pileated Woodpecker 1
  • American Kestrel 2
  • Eastern Phoebe 2
  • Eastern Kingbird 1
  • Blue Jay X
  • American Crow X
  • Fish Crow X
  • Tree Swallow 12
  • Carolina Chickadee 7
  • Tufted Titmouse 9
  • White-breasted Nuthatch 1
  • Carolina Wren 1
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 10
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet 8
  • Eastern Bluebird 10
  • American Robin 12
  • Brown Thrasher 6
  • Northern Mockingbird 4
  • European Starling 6
  • Louisiana Waterthrush 1
  • Eastern Towhee 8
  • Chipping Sparrow 5
  • Field Sparrow 16
  • Song Sparrow 7
  • White-throated Sparrow 15
  • Dark-eyed Junco 11
  • Northern Cardinal 8
  • Red-winged Blackbird 10
  • Common Grackle 2
  • Brown-headed Cowbird 2
  • House Finch 1
  • American Goldfinch 12View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17857444
    This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org/VA)


Sharon Kearns just sent over the field report from the IMBD walk at Morven Park – nice sightings! From Sharon:

Friday May 11th was a beautiful albeit windy day for an IMBD walk in the area of Morven Park. Mary Ann Good, Sally Snidow, Sidney Lissner and Sharon Kearns enjoyed checking out the pond at the corner of Fairview and Old Waterford Rd. We had excellent looks at two Solitary Sandpipers and a Spotted Sandpiper as well as a Great Egret that decided to land for a quick stop.

Since the woods in the ridge at the back of Morven Park have been productive we headed there and on the way found Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanager, and Black-Throated Green Warblers among many other birds. Phoebe Fledglings were prevalent.

As we walked up to the ridge to look for more warblers the wind had picked up to 20+mph so for safety’s sake we nixed walking along the wooded ridge. We birded woods in a lower area and then walked/drove the road around the mansion area, entrance.

The full list of species seen follows:
Canada Goose 7, Mallard 2, Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Egret 1, Green Heron 1, Turkey Vulture 4, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Solitary Sandpiper 2, Mourning Dove 8, Chimney Swift 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 3, Downy Woodpecker 1, Hairy Woodpecker 1,  Northern Flicker 3, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Eastern Wood-Pewee 5, Acadian Flycatcher 2, Eastern Phoebe 6, Great Crested Flycatcher 2, Eastern Kingbird 1, Yellow-throated Vireo 1, Red-eyed Vireo 5, Blue Jay 5, crow sp. 2, Tree Swallow 8, Carolina Chickadee 2, Tufted Titmouse 6, White-breasted Nuthatch 3, Carolina Wren 1, House Wren 2 Nesting, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2, Eastern Bluebird 9, Wood Thrush 2, American Robin 12, Gray Catbird 1, Northern Mockingbird 4, Brown Thrasher 2, European Starling 16, Cedar Waxwing 12, Ovenbird 2, Louisiana Waterthrush 2, Northern Parula 4, Yellow-rumped Warbler 4, Black-throated Green Warbler 2Field Sparrow 1, Scarlet Tanager 2, Northern Cardinal 5Red-winged Blackbird 8, Common Grackle 5, Baltimore Oriole 2, American Goldfinch 2


Ten participants enjoyed spectacular spring weather for the IMBD walk on Friday, May 11, at Camp Highroad in western Loudoun.  Fifty species were identified.

Highlights included Cerulean and Black-throated Blue Warblers on a wooded slope above Goose Creek; a distraction display by an Ovenbird which gave everyone close-up views; an unexpected fly-over by an osprey; and Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers feeding their chicks on a pond-side nest.

The following species were found:  Canada Geese, Green Heron, Black and Turkey Vultures, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Fish and American Crows, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole and American Goldfinch.


Whip-poor-wills, Owls, Warblers, and More! That was the siren that went out as the Birdathon team known as Shrike Force scoured Loudoun County in their search for as many species they could find last Saturday. Read about their adventure in their report below:

Whip-poor-wills, Owls, Warblers, and More!
by Shrike Force

Shrike Force, comprised of Laura McGranaghan, Gerry Hawkins, Mary Ann Good, and Joe Coleman, competed in the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Birdathon this past Saturday. We met at 3:45 am in far western Loudoun County in hopes of finding Whip-poor-wills and owls and wrapped up at the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project near Oatlands almost 18 hours later.

While we missed whips at our first stop, we did hear at least four Barred Owls. However, at our next stop, near where Appalachian Trail Road intersects with Rte 719 north of Round Hill, we heard not only a couple of Whip-poor-wills but two Great Horned Owls calling to each other. We next traveled to another location close to Bloomfield in the southwestern corner of the county where we heard two Screech Owls as well as a few other early risers. We were off to a great start and so excited!

Our next two stops were up on the ridge a little south of Snickers Gap on the very far western edge of Loudoun County, where we not only watched a beautiful sunrise over Loudoun Valley but ticked off 12 different warbler species including Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Hooded, Worm-eating, and the first of several Yellow-breasted Chats. We also found Wood Thrushes, a Veery, and the first of several flocks of Cedar Waxwings.

After a brief stop along the Potomac River immediately downstream of Harpers Ferry where we picked up Common Merganser, we spent a little over three hours at one of Loudoun’s most special natural areas, the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. There we not only added a number of species to our count, we made some of our most exciting non-avian finds of the day.

Among the many birds we found were another Barred Owl, a Red-headed Woodpecker, White-eyed Vireos, a Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-winged Warblers, a couple of Cerulean Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, and more Yellow-breasted Chats. We also first heard and then had great looks at two Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Blue Grosbeaks, and Scarlet Tanagers. It was wonderful to watch a dragonfly dancing in the riffles along Sweet Run while it laid its eggs in the rapidly moving water as well as numerous butterflies, including two Monarchs, along Butterfly Alley.

We were thrilled to find large flocks of Bobolinks in two different locations, at least 50 in a field along Edgegrove Road west of Hillsboro and more along Ebenezer Church Road near Bloomfield. Unfortunately three of us missed a Wild Turkey crossing a farm lane because we were concentrating on the Red-headed Woodpeckers which are common in the area around Bloomfield.

Scouting these areas earlier in the week certainly paid off as both a Willow Flycatcher and one of the flocks of Bobolinks were exactly where they’d been the previous day; unfortunately neither the Osprey nor the Pied-billed Grebe were still around. We also found one Wilson’s Snipe where there had been four a few days earlier.

After spending most of the day in western Loudoun County we headed over to the Broadlands Wetlands, which is right off of exit 6 of the Dulles Greenway, where the previous day’s scouting also paid off handsomely, adding several species there including Blue-winged Teal, Least and Pectoral Sandpiper, Prairie Warbler, a Savannah Sparrow, and another flock of Cedar Waxwings. And as we were getting back on the Greenway an immature Bald Eagle astounded us by flying alongside the car and almost joining us in the car!

At our last stop, the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project, we added a few more species such as Greater Yellowlegs and Swamp Sparrow, watched the Bald Eagles feed their two nestlings, and heard a couple of Virginia Rails when we met up with the Raven Loonatics. We also got great photos of a Luna Moth. Unfortunately only two of us were able to ID the Lesser Yellowlegs that were also on the wetlands and therefore were not able to add them to the team’s total.

After wrapping up at the Wetlands we headed into Leesburg for a bite to eat and to pick ticks off of ourselves while celebrating matching our previous high count of 113. Our final team total included 21 species of warbler, eight species of sparrow, and seven species of shorebird.


To celebrate the importance of bird migration, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is sponsoring a number of free bird walks between May 5 and May 13. 

Migration is one of the most important and spectacular events in the life of a bird ─ the journey between its summer and winter homes.  Without healthy habitat, many of these of these birds would not be able to survive their incredibly long journey and we would be much poorer.  Join us as we visit a few of the great places in Loudoun where birds stop over and in some cases breed.

The following walks, in order by date, begin at 8:00 a.m. unless indicated.  Registration required: Sign Up Online at http://www.loudounwildlife.org/IMBD_Signup_Form.htm  or contact Joe Coleman at jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org or 540-554-2542.  Bring binoculars.

5/11 Morven Park, 8:00 a.m.– Sharon Kearns
5/11 Camp Highroad, 8:00 a.m. –  Christine Perdue & Linda Millington
5/12 Banshee Reeks, 8:00 a.m. –  Del Sargent & Dori Rhodes
5/12 Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, 8:00 a.m. –  Joe Coleman & Mary Ann Good
5/12 IMBD for Children at Rust Nature Sanctuary, 9:00 a.m. – Phil Daley & Paul Miller
5/13 Mother’s Day Walk at the Phillips Farm, 8:00 a.m.– Mimi Westervelt & Bruce Johnson

During the same time period the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is sponsoring a Birdathon to raise money for our bird conservation efforts ─ if you think you might be interested in participating or sponsoring one of the teams, visit www.loudounwildlife.org/IMBD_Birdathon.htm


Gerco, one of the Raven Loonatics, sent over this great report from their big Birdathon day on Saturday – exciting times and 118 species!  Many thanks to everyone who sponsored the team and cheered them on!  Here’s Gerco’s report (below) and you can see photos from the day here: http://www.pbase.com/sheger/bat2012

This week the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is hosting its annual Birdathon. In this annual fundraiser a bunch a crazy, obsessed, fanatical or maniacal birders (depending ones point of view) are trying to find as many bird species as possible during a 24 hour period within Loudoun County. Proceeds of the event support the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

Last Saturday was the kickoff of this event. The Raven Loonatics (Bruce, Larry, Donna and Gerco) started at a leisurely time of 5 am on our quest of at least 110 species. That is one more compared to our total from last year.

Migration was in full swing and we were not disappointed. We started out in Algonkian regional park along the Potomac river. A funny looking post turned out to be a Barred Owl. We observed the bird for several minutes while the owl was staring back at us.

Along the river we found several Great Egrets (a species that eluded us in the past 2 years), a few Hooded Mergansers and a Mute Swan. Across the river an American Bittern was calling but this bird was not heard by all. Warblers were out in force. We quickly located Blackpoll, Redstart, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided and the various black-throated something Warbler.

Next up was Horsepen Park. A Green Heron was our best bird there. After birding the first few hours in nature, it was time to explore the suburbs. The various lakes in Sterling and Ashburn were productive. We picked up Common Loon, American Coot, Ruddy Duck, and flyovers of Broad-winged Hawks. One of the birds was a very dark morph. Way cool.

Quickly leaving the suburbs behind, we visited Ball Bluff and were greeted by a Ovenbird. We had a hard time finding an Acadian Flycatcher, but we did manage. Naturally after that we tripped over the bird at nearly all other stops. Funny how that works. The far northern part of Loudoun County is fortunately not too built up and various grassland birds were found in these rural areas. Our best birds were Horned Lark, Worm-eating Warbler, Bobolinks, Dickcissel, Bald Eagle and Osprey.

Following a mad dash across the county to Blue Ridge Center we managed to find Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue-winged Warbler, a turkey we couldn’t count, more Grasshopper Sparrows (those birds were everywhere) and Indigo Buntings. Along one of the creeks were got stellar nearly eye-level looks of Cerulean and Kentucky warblers. Both birds were curious and showing of. That was awesome.

Another mad dash back to the east side of Loudoun brought us to the Broadlands Wetlands (the van metre preserve or something like that is its official name). This small park with a fantastic boardwalk is a great location for migrating shorebirds. We found Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, but the best of all was a Pectoral Sandpiper. Not too impressed by all the sandpipers ruling the wetlands, a pair of Blue-winged Teal were resting under a few brushes. Cha Ching!

It being close to 730pm it was time for our last stop-the Dulles Wetlands. This area is not publicly accessible, but you can visit it during a LWC hosted walk. At the wetlands we scored Lesser Yellowlegs, a few more Blue-winged Teal, and eventually a Virginia Rail. By 8:30pm we were done and hungry as a bunch of wolves. Must remember to bring more food next year.

We recorded an amazing number of 122 species in Loudoun County. Our team total, following the Birdathon rules, was 118! That was for most of us, our biggest US birding day ever. Pretty amazing that we found that many species. Misses we had too. Most notably were Hairy Woodpecker, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawk, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Tough birds were Ruby-throated Hummingbird (only seen by two team members), Blue Grosbeak and American Kestrel. Funny how this works, some days you trip over them but other days they must be hiding behind the bushes.

As always we had a blast doing this. We shall do this again next year.

Photos: http://www.pbase.com/sheger/bat2012

Raven Loonatic


Andy Rabin reports that the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sponsored International Migratory Bird Day walk he and Linda Sieh led on Saturday at the privately-owned Horsepen Preserve in eastern Loudoun was attended by 18 participants, many of whom were first-timers and enjoyed getting great looks at the birds.

They found 49 species:

Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Chimney Swift Red-bellied Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee Field Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, House Finch, American Goldfinch.