Date: 7/16/17 10:57 pm
From: Mark McShane <mcshanebirder...>
Subject: [GABO-L] A little North Central Georgia - 7/16/2017
Hi All,

I birded in five north central Georgia counties this afternoon: Clayton, Henry, Fayette, Spalding, and Butts.  Starting out checking for shorebirds at the E.L. Huie ponds in Clayton after all of the increasingly good shorebird reports lately in the southeast and in Georgia. The shorebird highlights there were:

19 Killdeer
18 Least Sandpiper
 2 Spotted Sandpiper
 2 Solitary Sandpiper

At Lake Blalock in Henry County there were two more Spotted Sandpipers but no Limpkins.

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Things got a little more interesting in Spalding County at the Cheatam Road bridge at the Heads Creek Reservoir PFA where a MUTE SWAN was feeding in the shallows to the east of the bridge.

I met a local fisherman there who thinks there is a nesting pair, he said he hasn't seen both birds together in a couple of weeks but believes a nest is somewhere east of bridge, past where I saw the single bird. The eBird checklist with photos:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38174558

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For the last stop of the day I was trying to make it into Butts County from the Heads Creek Reservoir PFA in Spalding but I knew I would be very late making it to the Bucksnort Road area.  I got onto Bucksnort Road and into Butts County and the habitat starting looking good for a stop just before the intersection of Foster Road and Bucksnort Road and so I proceeded to pull in there at dusk. Just as I was approaching Foster Road on the left I had a quick glimpse, while driving, of what I thought could have been a Barn Owl circling over the field on the northwest side of the intersection there but the bird disappeared very quickly behind the roadside bank. I saw it again very briefly as I pulled in to park but couldn't be sure it wasn't a smallish white wader circling around with its neck not stretched out (maybe there was water in there), but it looked way too buffy (Cattle Egret maybe?). I finally got parked without getting stopped for BWD (Birding While Driving... it all happened so fast but without incident) and looked and listened for a while hearing only a Field Sparrow or two in the deepening and lowering night, and didn't see the potential owl again.

Before I headed for home though I thought I would walk up to the stop sign at Bucksnort Road, to the highest ground, and try to scan around all of the distant tree-lines and large fields there for owls in the very last light of the evening. There were lots of largish bats flitting everywhere near and far but nothing else. I eventually scanned all the way around to my left and was amazed and delighted to see a/the BARN OWL perched on a wire next to the road, over-watching the fields! Great views in the scope at not much more than 100 feet!  I think it's the first time I've seen one perched on a wire.  I was getting ready to phone-scope the bird when a car came by quickly flushing it and I watched it drop low out over the fields on the other side of the road, and then it floated off over a rise, not to return! I'll have to check but I think that may be the first time I've seen a non-previously reported or non-known to be roosting Barn Owl in Georgia! Pretty Nice!

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Good Birding All!

Mark

Mark McShane
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia
www.neargareport.com

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