Date: 2/10/19 12:00 pm From: Rowe, Richard A, 'Dick' via VA-bird <va-bird...> Subject: [VA-bird] Say's Phoebe in Rockbridge Co.
All - I headed out this morning to look for birds, which were very few and far between. I decided to check one of my favorite areas for Kestrels, Harriers, and various sparrows - especially White-crowns. While driving down Bellevue Ln I spotted two birds flitting around a flooded field. Being somewhat desperate to actually see a bird, I stopped and to my great surprise one of them was a Say's Phoebe (the other bird was an Eastern Phoebe). I watched the Say's P for about 20 minutes as it flitted from corn stalk to weeds to the ice while it fed. I had called Kerry Kilday and while he was on his way to the site, the Say's disappeared. For about 40 minutes we couldn't find the bird, then it reappeared (we think it was roosting is a hedge of briars and other scrub). Kerry and I were able to watch the bird for about 25 minutes before it disappeared into a thicket. At that point, we left the bird alone. Kerry and I have compared photos that I have of the Amherst Co/Thrasher 's Lake Say's Phoebe to the one found today. The Rockbridge Co phoebe appears to have a lighter/less gray throat, so we think it's likely that the Rockbridge Co. Say's is a different bird. The Say's Phoebe is our county record.
To find the bird: take Hays Creek Rd west from Brownsburg for about 1.5 miles. Turn left onto McElwee, and then almost immediately (cross the bridge) turn right onto Bellevue. About a mile west on Bellevue you'll pass a white farm house on the left. Just past the house as you head up hill - look to the right for the flooded portion of an old corn field. The Say's Phoebe was observed flying, perching, and feeding around the flooded region. There is very limited parking - pull off the road with your wheels in the ditch or up on the bank. The road is very narrow and is basically a single lane, so be prepared. Our experience with the bird is that it disappears for 30-40 minutes at a time, so waiting for it to reappear is advised.
I've posted some photos of the Say's Phoebe on Flickr