Date: 7/8/18 9:16 am
From: Russell Taylor via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [VA-bird] Germanna Bridge SE 7-7-2018 blockbusting
Germanna Bridge is named for an early German immigrant community that
settled there. The block has fields, mature woods, suburbs, golf course,
crop land, and some significant stretches of the Rapidan River. It is in
Culpepper and Orange Counties, for those of you who keep track of such
things.

The weather yesterday was beautiful. Early on it was cool and overcast,
with some breeze, clearing later but with the temperature still pleasant at
11am. So the birds remained pretty active, not collapsing into panting
heaps by 9am as in the past few weeks. Ten of us, on 3 teams, spent about 5
hours each covering this priority block. Prior to yesterday's push there
had only been 3 or so fairly brief visits to the block, so the additional
effort significantly changed the block statistics.

Particularly interesting species from yesterday included: 10 species of
warbler with 3 new confirmed breeders (Black-and-white, Prairie, and Common
Yellowthroat), Red-headed Woodpeckers, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, and
Red-eyed vireos in multiple locations, Chats, and a non-avian but
surprising arboreal groundhog (per Bryan, way up a tree). For raptors only
Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, and Osprey were seen, though there was
certainly habitat to support others.

Block stats: VABBA 1 / VABBA 2 before blockbusting / after blockbusting
(these may get revised but as of Sunday morning):
Observed - 6 / 5 / 0
Possible - 51 / 24 / 33
Probable - 9 / 10 / 14
Confirmed - 7 / 7 / 22
Total - 73 / 46 / 69

The net would be that one day of focused blockbusting put this block into
pretty good shape (though nocturnal hours are still needed). It also points
out how little coverage some blocks got in the first breeding bird atlas;
some very talented birders passed that 30 year old probable/confirm record
in just a few hours on visits prior to yesterday's blockbusting. Here are
the current confirmed species for this priority block (those marked with a
P were confirmed prior to the blockbusting effort):

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker (P)
Eastern Kingbird (P)
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird (P)
American Robin (P)
Brown Thrasher (P)
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Pine Warbler (P)
Prairie Warbler (P)
Chipping Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Indigo Bunting
Orchard Oriole

Part of the reason for all this detail is to encourage interest in this
block ... if you have read this far then the punchline is that there are
still a lot of birds identified as "possible" based on "S" singing heard
either July 4th or yesterday. A visit next weekend that re-heard those
species in the same locations would move them to S7, singing 7 or more
days, a much preferred "Probable" status. So a chance to be a hero without
working too hard :-). The complexity in this block (and I assume many rural
low-density blocks) is determining whether access is permissible at some of
the more attractive birding locations.

The group I was with covered south of Rt 3 to the west and south of the
Rapidan to the east; our best stop was the Germanna Visitor's Center. The
VC was closed but we parked at the Germanna Community College next to it
and walked a wooded trail to the VC area. From there we walked the edge
areas and then trails down to the river edge. You have to be a little
careful as this is right on the south boundary of the block (the line is
through the Germanna CC parking lot). Another good stop with no obvious
access concerns was Kirkpatrick Park south of Rt 3, on the ROW cut for a
buried gas pipeline (it is just west of a recycling center on Rt 3). The
park seems to still be under development and had a locked entrance gate. We
parked on the side of Rt 3 and walked in. We headed south through the woods
(no trail but quite open, allowed us to monitor the gas line cut to the
left and the fields to the right, in addition to the woods. All the other
areas we visited were subdivisions.

The team covering the north part of the block (Sally Knight, Dave Larson,
and Candace Lowther) had good success. They mostly birded along Eleys Ford
Road, turning out wherever there was a safe pull off. From Dave: "Starting
at the west end, side road Bre Z Way Lane, gas line right of way, Sunset
Hill Drive, then a huge clear cut tract. There is a road blocked by a cable
leading through this cut that we walked for a mile and a half that
eventually comes to Lick Creek. However, there was a partially hidden No
Trespassing sign near the cable. Further along on Eleys Ford there is
Field Mill Road, White Rock Drive and Tower Drive. We birded all three. We
got two confirmations on White Rock where the road goes through woods and
then a power line cut."

Bryan's team birded the center of the block and I know had some challenges
with finding spots that were not marked private property. I will let him
add any highlights and recommendations that he has for subsequent visits,
as a follow-up.

Hope everyone is out and enjoying this change in the weather!
Good birds,
Russ Taylor
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