I ventured out on Sunday, May 22nd, in the continuing saga of precipitation that calls itself home here in Virginia. I ended up enjoying the morning despite the weather and had 90 species principally in Goochland County. The highlights for me were an immature male Wilson’s Warbler, a continuing Cerulean Warbler, Common Loon, finally a few Bobolinks and a calling Willow Flycatcher the last of which was in Powhatan County. As I stated the weather continues unabated with overcast skies and intermittent rain. The James River is above “normal” but not yet out of its banks.
During the first break of the rain on Saturday morning, May 21st, I headed to some farm fields which routinely flood along the James River in Goochland County not aware I was about to observe one of my biggest inland shorebird surprises in 40 years. As I neared the fields a train was approaching on adjacent tracks to the fields and apparently stirred up a large flock of Whimbrels (125+) which were now in flight in front of me. I quickly snapped a few photographs to capture the moment as they took flight to parts unknown.
At mid-day I went back out to the fields in Goochland County and some adjacent in Powhatan County. The Powhatan County fields held several shorebird species on this trip. I found nine (9) Black-bellied Plovers and one (1) Dunlin, almost all of which were in alternate plumage.
On Friday, May 20th, I visited Sussex County. Conditions were mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 45-67 degrees and winds minor at 0-5 mph. At this date most bird species observed are breeders but a couple of migrating Blackpoll Warblers were noted. I observed my first of year and first ever Mississippi Kite for the County about mid-morning soaring over the Nottoway River.
Always enjoyable and photographed singing vigorously on territory was a Kentucky Warbler.
The weather was crisp for Sunday, May 15th, after a cold front went through our area during the night. The temperature was 44 degrees, winds were steady at about 10 mph and building as I traveled to Halifax and Charlotte Counties, Virginia.
I walked several areas in both counties along the Staunton River and beyond the expected breeding bird species I found only two migrating warbler species, one being a male Wilson’s Warbler in Charlotte County and several Northern Waterthrush in both counties. Winds continued to build as the morning wore on and varied from 5 to a gusty 20 mph.
At around 8:30 I observed my first odes for the day in Charlotte County those being Cobra Clubtails (Gomphus vastus)- 4, Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)- 6 and Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) -8.
Later in the morning I visited a couple of sites in Halifax County and found three (3) Blackwater Clubtails (Gomphus dilatatus), one (1) Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea) and one (1) male Cocoa Clubtail (Gomphus hybridus). Overall numbers were down in both dragonflies and butterflies due to the windy conditions. Some photographs are as follows:
Finally a break in the rain! I traveled this morning Saturday, May 14th to Goochland and Fluvanna Counties. At my first start at daybreak in western Goochland County I heard a singing Cerulean Warbler. At mid-day I returned and this male was continuing its song in the same area.
In Fluvanna County I observed reduced numbers of Cobra Clubtails (Gomphus vastus) in comparison to years past. I had only two Splendid Clubtails (Gomphus lineatifrons) to go along with the Cobras. I did manage a photograph of adjacent male Cobra and Splendid Clubtails to demonstrate their size and appearance differences.
I visited Halifax and Charlotte Counties this morning, Saturday, May 7th. Early morning found several species of warblers on the move inclusive of Blackburnian (1), Cape May (1) and Black-throated Blue (3).
A couple of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks sang from areas along the Staunton River. The river itself was in flood stage after the last week and a half of rain. The fields at the Staunton River Battlefield State Park were covered with water but it did not preclude a female Northern Harrier from foraging. My intent had been to pursue dragonflies but with the conditions offered it proved challenging. At one location in Halifax County I did find one female Cocoa Clubtail, a species I found along the river last year. I also had a distant view of an unIDed small Gomphus which I hope with further visits may come away identified.