Date: 4/7/18 4:10 pm
From: Rowe, Richard A, 'Dick' via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [VA-bird] Great Birds on a gloomy Saturday
I headed out this morning hoping to find something interesting in the area. I visited Old Farm Rd pond (outside of Lexington and a private pond) and then spent about 2 hrs at Willow Lake (Raphine VA - exit 205 on I-81) where things got more interesting as the morning went on.

OFRP - there was a pair of Gadwalls, 1 Ruddy Duck, 1 Coot, 1 Killdeer, a few Canada Geese on the pond. There were a number of Red-winged Blackbirds calling from along the pond and in the cattails below the pond. In the cattails, there were 2 Swamp Sparrows and 6-7 Wilson's Snipe. The snipe were in a group and kept flushing.

Willow Lake - As I arrived, so did Bob Epperson and Mark Johnson. We birded together for about 2 hrs there. We arrived about 11 and there were a number of ducks on the lake and lots (LOTS) of Tree Swallows. There were Ring-necked Ducks, at least 1 Greater Scaup, a cluster of Ruddy Ducks (maybe 20), Wood Ducks, Blue-winged Teal (7), Gadwall (2-3), Mallards (4), 1 Pied-billed Grebe, 2 Horned Grebes, and of course Canada Geese. I will note the absence of the Mute Swans, so they were wild birds that visited the lake. In addition to the ducks, there were 2 Savannah Sparrows on the dam, Meadowlarks, Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bluebirds, a Phoebe, 2 Northern Flickers, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, many Yellow-rumped Warblers, Song Sparrows, a few Field Sparrows, a Mockingbird, and 2 Osprey.

At one point, Mark noticed some large white birds over the lake. They turned out to be Caspian Terns - 4 of them. They moved about the lake feeding for about 20 minutes (just a short-enough period of time for them to leave before John Pancake could get there). These Terns represent the 3rd record for Caspian Terns in the county. The previous two were in 1947 and 2013. Bob and Mark stayed on the dam and I headed to the other end of the lake to see if I could get closer to the terns. At the in-flow area, I turned up several Swamp Sparrows, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Palm Warbler (first of the season and the eastern or yellow race), and a FOS Barn Swallow. John, Bob, and Mark arrived at the in-flow end to look for the Palm Warbler. John was all set to leave when 3 Bonaparte's Gulls arrived. Bonaparte's Gulls, while not common, are seen each year and usually at Willow Lake.

All in all, not a bad day considering it was windy, chilly, and it snowed and rained at Willow Lake. I've posted some photos on Flickr and John Pancake and Bob Epperson have posted their list on e-bird.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vmibiology/

Dick Rowe
VMI Biology Dept

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