Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brown-headed Cowbird added!

                           Adult Cooper's Hawk, Nicholson Road, Rockingham County, Virginia

Today brought some good birds:

I took to the mountains and headed for Shenandoah Nat. Park.  In the park I kept hearing and seeing a bird that had an unfamiliar song to me, and the looks were brief and not good enough for an ID.  Once I get an ID on the song and identify the bird I will update this post.  Other park birds were the regulars: Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, American Crow, Common Raven, Turkey Vulture, etc.  Once out of the park we did a quick swing through a small portion of Rockingham County.  An adult Cooper's Hawk (pictured in this post) gave incredible looks as it perched, flew, etc.!  What a bird!  My best look at an adult coop ever.  And to top the day off, right as we got home a Brown-headed Cowbird, year bird #205 for me flew over.  Listed as common for the area in the winter but they have stayed out of view until today!

FEBRUARY 28 UPDATE: The UI Singing Birds that I mentioned above have had discussion over what they are.  Several birders have said Pine Warbler, even more have said Junco, and 1 experienced 1 said Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Allen Larner, the 1 who said Yellow-rumped gave a good reason for it not to be a junco: "To slow for Junco" Allen said.  Anyway,  all those songs sound rather similar to me so I'm listing it as Unidentified Singing Birds.  When I get back from Texas maybe I'll get back up to the park and actually be able to see the birds and identify them!

Until later,


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kestrel show

No rarities or year birds today but the pair of local kestrels put on an awesome show!

The female A. Kestrel that hunts/lives right near my home was actively hunting for about 30 minutes in the fields right by my house!  She would hover, dive, fly, perch, fly, hover, fly, hover, fly, hover, dive, fly, perch, and so on!  She did this behavior for 20-30 minutes and it was an amazing show.  However, even with the active hunting and her attempts to catch prey she never got her lunch during that time:)  During that time a Red-shouldered Hawk flew past, a nice treat.  About 90 minutes later, the female kestrel was doing the same hunting behavior in the same fields..this time a male joined her!  It was incredible to watch the pair of American Kestrels hunting/hovering TOGETHER!  After 5-10 minutes they flew away and out of view.

In my attempts this afternoon to find a Brown-headed Cowbird for year bird #205, the attempts have failed.

Perhaps tomorrow while I'm in Shen. National Park, generally a good location for me to find BHC (at least it was in 2010) I will find it for year bird #205.


Quieter day = no year birds/no rarities

Ha, yup, you can tell, I blog the day after the event (I try to blog the day of the event, but don't do a great job!).

Yesterday was a day around home and got the regulars: Red-tailed Hawks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Starlings, and other.

Lets see what today gets me!

Until later,


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wood Duck and Redheads

Yesterday didn't produce anything of note..I don't think I even saw one of the local kestrels!

However, today I made the trip to 'the lakes' that I visit in Rockingham County about 30 minutes north of where I live.  4 Redheads were of note at Lake Campbell, 2 male/2 female.  Also there were a Ruddy Duck, an American Coot, and a Canvasback, as well as the tame Mute Swan.  Nearby Lake Shenandoah hosted a pair of Ring-necked Duck males, 3 Hooded Mergansers, and the treat of a Wood Duck drake that was enjoying the dam side of the lake with it's Canada Geese 'friends'.  Fairly-nearby 'Leonard's Pond' hosted 22 Canada Geese but nothing else.  A flock of starlings on the way home prompted hope they were blackbirds, but it was not to be.  Many American Robins around today.

It's cold, dreary, cloudy, wet, and rainy now, so I guess no more birding today..however Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I believe are nice days and Wednesday we fly to Texas!  Kiskadees, Green Jays, Caracaras, and hawks, we're coming soon!:)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great long weekend with the GBBC

What a busy long time for blogging!

Friday, the 18th the Rockingham Bird Club which I'm part of was having it's monthly bird walk at a local park.  This coincided with the first day of the 4-day long Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).  On the walk we got about 25 species, with the highlight for me being a pair of Eastern Towhees singing, as that's year bird #202 for me..a great one to add to the Junior Big Year!  After the walk, back at home a juvenile Northern Harrier hunting low over the fields by my house put on an amazing show for 5-10 minutes!

Saturday, the 19th the Rockingham Bird Club did it's Waterfowl and Raptor Count and 6 there were 6 teams in various parts of the county going out to look for birds, there were 6 teams so the whole county would get covered.  My mama and I teamed up with William Leigh to cover "Southeast Central" for the count.  We covered our section and I added 2 year birds: Horned Lark (2 or 3 "graveling", a life bird for me!), and Cedar Waxwing.  Another highlight was an American Wigeon pair.  Then to our delight we got a call from another birding that was helping to cover South Central for the count and she said that they saw 4 White-winged Scoters at Lake Shenandoah.  We had basically covered Southeast Central so we headed to the lake for the rarity.  Jackpot!  All 4 WWS were enjoying the lake!  A state bird for me, and by far my best look ever.  Not a year bird though, as I got one in California where they are "suppose" to be.  While watching the WWS, another birder showed up but said he had been sick so was not able to cover his section for the count.  So, William and us took on that section too!  We got some good birds although they were slow but steady and the highlight was a Cooper's Hawk that flew right by us!  We looked for woodcocks but they were not found.

Sunday, the 20th we birded around looking for the Trumpeter Swan Immature (see 1st post in blog), but he was not found.  I kept a list and entered it into the GBBC.  We also looked for the Rough-legged Hawk wintering near Waynesboro and we lucked on that bird.  We also had a group of 20 meadowlarks and a harrier which was nice.

Monday, the 21st I birded in the woods around my house and a flock of 9 Ring-billed Gulls flew over which was a terrific sighting for me to get for the GBBC!  The woodpeckers were very active that day with several Pileated, Red-bellied, and 1 of Downy, and Flicker.

Not much yesterday, the 22nd, just a few Carolina Chickadees and crows, etc.

Now I got to go out to see what I can get for today!

Also, in a week from now I'm headed to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas in hopes of finding Great Kiskadees, Crested Caracaras, Green Jays, Brown Jays, Harris's Hawks, Hook-billed Kites, White-tailed Hawks, and much more!

Until later,


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rusty Blackbirds added and Immature Bald Eagle!

Just when it would be thought to be a quite day on the birding front..not so!

Upon my arrival into the yard I heard a bird singing a very pretty song.  Unfamiliar to most bird songs, I didn't know what it was, but I knew which bush the bird was in.  After locating the bird, I quickly observed it and identified it as a Carolina Wren.  2nd time that species has been in my yard, but not a year bird unfortunately.

Then I spotted a pair of medium size blackbirds that were clearly not starlings nor Red-wings or C Grackles...  I observed the pair of male birds flying north overhead and their dark plumage and shorter tail than a grackle's, it was obvious that they were Rusty Blackbirds..drum roll please!  Year bird #201!

Now I'm going out to try to get hawks..Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Sharp-shinned, or Kestrel are my targets, although something rarer like a Rough-legged or Goshawk would be nice..ha ha, high hopes for my yard, I know!

Great afternoon for hawks and other raptors.  Several kestrels were observed, as well as several Red-taileds.  Most of all though, was an IMMATURE BALD EAGLE that soared right near by!  Nice.

Tomorrow I'm going for a bird walk at a local park.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Golden Eagle Release!

I didn't add any year birds today but none the less it was an excellent day birding!

I heard that there was a Golden Eagle release that was going to take place today (Feb. 16) at 1:00 Pm on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Harvey's Knob Overlook.  The Wildlife Center Of Virginia, a wildlife rehabilitation center got an adult Golden Eagle as a patient on Jan. 11.  The Golden Eagle was caught in a Coyote trap and admitted to the wildlife center.  Only 1 talon had to be removed, and luckily one that the bird did not need to survive.  So, eventually the Golden Eagle was ready to be released back into the wild.

The Wildlife Center made the release open to the public, my papa and I went and we observed the banding, measuring, and release of the bird.  I got to observe the bird for about 5-10 minutes after it's release as it happily soared the wild skies once again.  What an experience!

Tomorrow will be a "home day" so likely not tons on the birding front, but I will bird around home, so there may or man not be a post.  Friday and Saturday have extensive birding in the valley planned so hopefully I'll add a few year birds.

Red-necked Grebe #200!

Over the last week or so I've been hearing the reports of 2 rare grebes at Lake Anna in Louisa County of Virginia.  One is a Red-necked Grebe at "Dike 3" and another is a Western Grebe that got injured and re released near Lake Anna State Park.

Yesterday I made the trip in hopes of finding both grebes, but the Red-necked Grebe was the real target as it would be a life bird for me and I had gotten a Western Grebe in California.  We arrived at Dike 3 with plenty of daylight to search for the bird.  Upon my arrival a pair of Bonaparte's Gulls in addition to many Ring-bills greeted me.  Bonaparte's Gull is a year bird so a success already!  I was then at 199 bird species for the year, so if I then got the Red-necked Grebe it would be #200.  I searched for probably 20 minutes and saw birds that weren't year birds but nice ones none the less like Common Loons and Pied-billed and Horned Grebes.  Then..I spotted a medium-size grebe out on the lake..could it be the Red-necked?  I got a good look and was 98 percent that I had found year bird #200.  But the look was quick and I was not 100 percent.  We walked another 20+ minutes before I re spotted the bird but then I yelled to my mama as we were getting ready to go "I got it!".  True success,  I watched it for a good 10 minutes and without any question it was the Red-necked Grebe!  I observed it's features and saw the unique colored chest and even got a look at the beak.

Then we went to look for the Western Grebe, as it would be a great bird to see and a state bird for me.  We got a Horned Grebe that caused a bit of studying but it did turn out to be a Horned.

Luckily, I got the life bird as well as Bonaparte's Gull as a year bird.

Great day indeed.

A month and a half in with great birds

Good day fellow birders and friends!

At this point I am a month and a half into my "Junior Big Year" of birding.   Some birders decide to do a "big year" where they travel across a designated area of land (Continental US and Canada is a common one) and see how many bird species they can get.  Birders doing big years are usually out and about across North America birding.

As I'm 11 years old, I unfortunately can't do that but I have decided to do a "Junior Big Year" this year in 2011 and I have been fortunate to travel to Florida, California, and around Virginia so far and have Texas, Ontario, and Alaska on the books for the future.

I have decided to just start blogging now, so I'll give you a brief overview of what has happened in the first month and a half of the Junior Big Year.  Highlights are as follows:

White-winged Dove, South Florida, listed as "rare" for the area, life bird for me

Brown Shrike, vagrant from Asia seen in McKinleyville California.  This Brown Shrike is the 3rd one ever recorded in the Lower 48 States with only a few other records from Canada and Alaska!

Another highlight is a Say's Phoebe near Arcata California.

Sage Thrasher in North California is another highlight.

And now the Virginian rarities.  Back near home there has also been some exciting birds and I have added Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle, and Rough-legged Hawk as well as Redhead and Trumpeter Swan right near home.  The Trumpeter Swan is a juvenile and is only the 2nd recorded record for the county!

Also present about 3 hours from home near Richmond Virginia is an Allen's Hummingbird young female visiting somebody's hummingbird feeders in Chester Virginia. I made the trip over to see her, Little "Martha Gail" is so special.  Big thanks to the homeowners for letting people into their space to see the rarity.

At this point I have a total of 198 species and 350 is my target for year's end.

Check back to see how the Junior Big Year continues!