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.