Date: 5/1/18 4:26 am
From: Janice Frye via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: Re: [VA-bird] A Great Weekend for the VA Breeding Bird Atlas!
Awesome day! Nice work!

Jan Frye

On Mon, Apr 30, 2018, 11:08 PM kurtcapt87--- via VA-bird <
<va-bird...> wrote:

> VA BIRDers,
> A Great Weekend for the VA Breeding Bird Atlas!
> The weather and timing were great for doing a bit of Atlas-ing this past
> weekend. Typically, for the Northern Virginia area, the last weekend of
> April and the first week of May have the most species diversity. Yet, it is
> also a period where many species are setting up "house" or raising young.
> For these reasons I decided on a bit of Atlas-ing, especially the priority
> blocks which are essential for this project!
> Saturday, I started off at Mason Neck SP and NWR in Fairfax Co. The Fort
> Belvoir SE priority block is doing quite well but deserves a few more
> probable or confirmed breeders. Plus, adjacent blocks such as Indian Head
> NW
> or Fort Belvoir SW (although not priority blocks) have excellent habitat
> possibilities for unusual species. I started pre-dawn and added a singing
> Eastern Screech Owl at the same spot as one nearly 2 weeks earlier - moving
> the species up to probable status for Indian Head NW. For the biologist
> who
> analyze the Va Breeding Bird Atlas, probable status is nearly as good as
> confirmed, which means moving a species into this category is desirable.
> During the Screech stop, a Veery made a flight call along the Potomac - a
> fine migrant. And migrants would soon dominate the day. The next bird
> heard
> was a gurgling Wood Thrush - perhaps 45 minutes before sunrise. Later, Wood
> Thrush plus other birds sang throughout this day, yet none could be
> recorded
> for the Atlas (such as the Yellow-rumps, Ovenbirds, waterthrush, No.
> Parulas, Blue-headed Vireos, Red-eyed Vireos, White-throated Sparrows,
> other
> warblers, etc.) as these birds are migrants and I do not know if they will
> stay unless other breeding behavior is noted. The Atlas website has charts
> with guidelines on the "safe dates" for coding singing species, especially
> for those that migrate.
> I made it to the Mason Neck NWR impoundment and it got interesting. Top
> bird
> was a Great Egret perched on the edge of the impoundment on a small tree or
> shrub. Eventually it flew into the heronry - one of the largest west of the
> Chesapeake Bay - and was lost in the trees. I coded it as appropriate
> habitat as in years past Great Egrets were breeders, but I will have to
> take
> a closer look to find confirmation.
> The next interesting sighting was a yodeling Pied-billed Grebe - a common
> call to the north such as in Minnesota or Maine but decidedly unusual in
> Northern VA. I will need to look more carefully for this species on my
> next
> visit.
> There were other goodies such as Red-eyed Vireos, both orioles, some Common
> Loons off in the bay, a male Wood Duck floating nearby in the bay (waiting
> expectantly?), American Coot and Ring-billed Duck.
> I continued my trek through the NWR and adjacent SP lands and recorded
> species via blocks. Top Atlas bird was a Black Vulture nesting in an old
> greenhouse in SP land. I upgraded Red-shouldered Hawk to a pair on Sycamore
> Rd in the Ft Belvoir SE block. Unusual migrant was a late Winter Wren.
> Totals for the day were good, despite the fog limiting distant viewing (for
> the diver ducks only Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck were found). 84 species
> were tallied by noon including 15 warbler species. Top numbers were
> Yellow-rumps (37), No. Parula (27), Ovenbird (16), Common Yellowthroat (6),
> Pine (4), Yellow-throated (3), Black & White (2), Prothonotary (2) and
> singles of Worm-eating, LA Waterthrush, Blue-winged, Magnolia, Yellow,
> Black-throated Blue, and Prairie. The vireos were good with 20 Red-eyes
> noted plus 6 Yellow-throateds and 2 White-eyes. Great Crested Flycatchers
> totaled 10, Wood Thrush topped out at 18, Scarlet Tanagers were 4, and
> White-throated Sparrows were obvious with 54 noted. Only 2 Swamps and 1
> Song
> Sparrow. Orchard (5) beat Baltimore Orioles (2). At the end of the day 2
> Indigo Buntings were near the VC.
> Sunday, Rich Rieger joined me for a foray to the Widewater CW priority
> block, in Stafford Co. Although becoming a tad more suburban, it still
> retains some wild character, especially near the new State Park. The gravel
> Brent Pt road through a forested valley stretch from the northern block
> boundary was very good as we chanced upon a Barred Owl near the roadside.
> Knowing it was likely watching a nest site, we found the nest in just 2
> minutes, in a snag cavity very close to the road, and it held a young owlet
> peering at us. Afterwards, we continued down the road, tallying what we
> could.
> Past the railroad tracks we got a bit of luck and managed to confirm
> Chickadee, Titmouse, Red-bellied, and Hairy WP. Plus, an Osprey nest and a
> Purple Martin house in business. The process we use is straight-forward -
> we
> tally birds in safe date range that are present or singing. We look for
> other behavior that indicates a higher code - like this male and female No.
> Parula moving together from tree to tree in a tight area - clearly a pair.
> With this approach, our codes for singers, "S", become available for
> consideration during a future visit 7 or more days later. Then, when we
> find
> a singer at the same spot during safe date range, we can consider upgrading
> to the "S7" code - making that species a probable breeder and very valuable
> to subsequent data analysis by the biologists.
> Regarding migrants, the day at Widewater CW was reasonably productive with
> a
> dozen warbler species where Yellow-rump (38), Ovenbird (13), No. Parula
> (13), LA Waterthrush (5), and Yellow-throated Warbler (4) were tally
> leaders. Curiously, only 9 White-throated Sparrows were found but Wood
> Thrush was good at 11 tallies. We managed to find 2 each of Yellow-throated
> and Blue-headed Vireos. And our work added 6 more confirms for the block
> plus 4 more probable species.
> Despite not trying for a big weekend species total, I still tallied 98 for
> the 2-day stretch. Which means that Atlas-ing has few benefits!
> Kurt Gaskill
> PS if you see a daylight owl, be sure to add it to the Atlas as "H", in
> appropriate habitat (unless it does something else.). This will be most
> valuable to the Atlas. Thanks!
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