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