Date: 2/19/18 2:48 pm From: kurtcapt87--- via va-bird <va-bird...> Subject: [Va-bird] Atlas Activities this Weekend, Feb 17-19, 2019
I got into the swing of things for this Third Year of the Virginia's Breeding Bird Atlas. A quick stop Friday added a Bald Eagle ON at a nest site in Mt Vernon CW. The bird was down low in the nest, so I used a big of high ground from a distance to scope the female moving about in the nest cup, her back slightly projecting above the top of the cup.
Saturday Marc Ribaudo and I joined forces. There are not too many species in "safe date" range as nearly all are migrants or still in winter wandering mode. That was clear for the vultures as we found large kettles and singles on buildings along the Potomac (in otherwise open areas) - timing consistent with the chart the Atlas tool kit provides. We managed to find a silent Barred Owl at Cockpit Pt, Pr Wm Co (Quantico CE, code "H"), plus a pair performing "monkey calls" in the Widewater area of Stafford Co (Widewater SW, code "P"). Plus we tallied 2 different Bald Eagle nests ON in two blocks in Stafford (Widewater SW and CW) near the Aquia River.
Sunday I linked up with Steve Johnson and Lynn Rafferty. We noted a Bald Eagle nest near Lake Arrowhead in Stafford Co (Storck NE) with two gray downy young! We looked for other raptor nests but found only one empty (but apparently new) nest near Tenerife Rd in Fauquier Co. I should note that it was a good raptor migration day, esp. for Red-shouldered Hawks as we saw over 20 (some seemed to be displaying, but since this species continues to migrate into early April, a breeding code was not assigned).
That evening I visited a few sites in the area known as Meadowood West in the Fort Belvoir CW block. No owls! But there was one displaying American Woodcock at the meadow near the Giles Run Trailhead off of Old Colchester Rd. Of course, woodcock are migrating so no breeding code. Yet, this location has many of the qualities Ashley Peele described in her Atlas article on woodcocks and is worth visiting later in the season.
Today (Sunday) Rich Rieger, Sherman Suter and I first started at Burke Lake, re-finding the Red-necked Grebe. We then motored to Lake Manassas and found one of the Bald Eagle nests there quite occupied. (also, 500+ Common Mergansers). We then moved to the Middleburg SE block and found 2 Red-shouldered nests apparently under construction, one nest with maker unknown, and one likely Red-tailed nest (but no Red-tail evident). We noted the locations of the empty nests for a re-visit. Also found a Barred Owl low on a branch near one of the roads - it was not in appropriate habitat which means this bird is still wandering bit, consistent with the March 1 safe date for the piedmont.