Date: 4/7/17 5:55 am
From: Rob Bielawski <robbielawski...>
Subject: [Va-bird] Virginia Beach Spring 2017 Arrivals & Some Field Observations
Fellow Birders,

Spring migration has gotten moving over the last couple of weeks out here
on the coast and we've had 27+/- transient/summer resident species get
logged so far into eBird within the City of Virginia Beach. Thus far,
here's what has showed up, with average arrival date listed being the
average of the last 5 years of eBird data, or the published Gold Book (
http://www.virginiabirds.org/publications/the-gold-book/) dates for the
coastal plain, whichever is earlier:

*Species / Avg. Arrival Date / 2017 Arrival Date / Difference*
Blue-winged Teal / 5 Mar / 19 Feb / -14 Days
Piping Plover / 15 Mar / 17 Mar / +2 Days
Purple Martin / 15 Mar / 28 Mar / +13 Days
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher / 15 Mar / 21 Mar / +6 Days
Tricolored Heron / 15 Mar / 1 Apr /+17 Days
Royal Tern / 15 Mar / 17 Mar / +2 Days
Yellow-throated Warbler / 20 Mar / 20 Mar / Spot on
Glossy Ibis / 20 Mar / 21 Mar / +1 Day
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron / 20 Mar / 18 Mar / -2 Days
Lesser Yellowlegs / 25 Mar / 30 Mar / +5 Days
Northern Rough-winged Swallow / 25 Mar / 1 Apr / +7 Days
Broad-winged Hawk / 30 Mar / 2 Apr / +3 Days
Least Sandpiper / 30 Mar / 20 Mar / -10 Days
Louisiana Waterthrush / 30 Mar / 1 Apr / +2 Days
Short-billed Dowitcher / 30 Mar / 2 Apr / +3 Days
Barn Swallow / 30 Mar / 31 Mar / +1 Day
Little Blue Heron / 30 Mar / 26 Mar / -4 Days
Caspian Tern / 30 Mar / 3 Apr / +4 Days
Cattle Egret / 30 Mar / 1 Apr / +2 Days
Black-and-white Warbler / 5 Apr / 5 Apr
Chimney Swift / 5 Apr / 31 Mar / -6 Days
Ovenbird / 5 Apr / 29 Mar / -8 Days
Green Heron / 5 Apr / 3 Apr / -2 Days
White-eyed Vireo / 5 Apr / 4 Apr / -1 Days
Northern Parula / 5 Apr / 5 Apr / Spot on
Common Tern / 5 Apr / 3 Apr / -2 Days
Least BIttern / 15 Apr / 3 Apr / -12 Days

Overall, the average comes out to be right on time when considering the
last 5 years of arrival dates specific to Virginia Beach (though some
species were very early, some very late).

Things should heat up considerably over the next couple of weeks with many
other species on the way. If you're interested in tracking all the
migrants, please try out this table of eBird Map Links on my website:
http://www.beachbirding.com/distribution/spring-arrivals/

So far, the best spots for migrants have been Back Bay NWR, Little Island
Park & Pleasure House Point NA (shorebirds, terns, gulls) and forested
areas like Stumpy Lake NA, First Landing SP & West Neck Creek NA
(passerines). Unfortunately, the City decided to clean out all the emergent
vegetation from the stormwater retention pond at *Bayville Farms Park*, so
this site is not likely to yield many (or any) shorebirds during the spring
migration. The impoundments at *Back Bay NWR* are also quite high right
now, with the C-Storage Pool not showing any mudflats currently. Any
shorebirds in this area are likely to be flyovers, perhaps some individuals
working the impoundment edges like GRYE/LEYE, SOSA or SPSA, or group
fly-bys along the beach. Piping Plovers have been present in good numbers
since mid-March on the beach here and at Little Island Park as well to the
north. *Princess Anne WMA's Beasley Tract *has become wholly overgrown
since last spring, and doesn't appear that it'll be capable of holding the
shorebirds that it became famous for last year (WIPH, STSA, LBDO, WRSA and
many others). *Whitehurst Tract *is also full of water at present, though
waterfowl numbers haven't been great on Sunday's when the park is open, the
diversity has been typical of the dabblers though. If heading into either
tract, make sure to wear boots as the Cottonmouths are certainly out, and
it is only a matter of time before the trails become more overgrown with
vegetation.

I've enjoyed hearing the songs of Winter Wrens, seeing Hermit Thrush out
and about, and viewing Blue-headed Vireos that wintered, but remained well
concealed at First Landing SP. All these should be heading out of the area
soon, to be replaced by their summer or transient counterparts.

Now to look forward to the weekend of birding, and hoping the incredible
winds we've had the last few days finally come to an end, though it doesn't
appear that end will take place today, or even tomorrow.

Rob Bielawski
Virginia Beach, VA
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