Summer 2017 (June-August)

August 31, 2017

Both tonight, the 31st, and last night were very entertaining for the flight of Common Nighthawks here in western Frederick County, Va.  Last night 150+ nighthawks were flying around at a mid to high level elevation but tonight they were flying low, fast and erratic like a good nighthawk should.  Mixed in the nighthawk flight both nights were Purple Martins, Chimney Swifts, Robins and an occasional Bobolink.

August 29, 2017

This evening, after a day long slow rain, I visited the small pond here in Frederick County where I have had small numbers of shorebirds since mid-July.  Tonights surprise stars were a Willet, 68 Lesser Yellowlegs, a Stilt Sandpiper and 2 Pectoral Sandpipers.  I can only hope that the unseasonable weather continues to allow some additional migrants to ground themselves for a day or two.

Lesser Yellowlegs and Dunlin in Frederick County, Va.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper and Dunlin in Frederick County, Va.

Willet in Frederick County, Va.

Willet in Frederick County, Va.

Willet in Frederick County, Va.

Willet in Frederick County, Va.


August 28, 2017

I observed a flock of Cedar Waxwings (16+) behaving in a manner in which I have never observed before tonight.  They were actively “hawking” insects over a small pond in a loose flock constantly flying in an up and down undulating manner and circling for over 5+ minutes.  (When I left they were still at it.)  While their flight “style” was not that of a swallow or swift it appeared to be quite effective.

August 18, 2017

After work this evening, I ran out to a small pond which has been hosting a few shorebirds here in Frederick County, Va.  Tonight the “regulars” were joined by a Stilt Sandpiper, the 2nd of the summer at this location.  I then headed over to Clarke County where David Boltz had observed an adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron and found it there with a Great Blue Heron and (2) Green Herons.

Stilt Sandpiper in Frederick County, Va.

Stilt Sandpiper in Frederick County, Va.

Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron in Clarke County, Va.

Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron in Clarke County, Va.

August 12, 2017

I took a quick swing through several counties early this morning; King William, Charles City and Chesterfield.  I was a little disappointed in the lack of shorebirds at several sites.  Most notable were the hundreds of Purple Martins on the power lines as I traveled, many Forster’s Terns on the James River and a Roseate Spoonbill.

Roseate Spoonbill in Virginia

Roseate Spoonbill in Virginia

August 7, 2017

I had a nice surprise after work this evening in Frederick County, Va. when I checked a small local shorebird attraction and found 2 American Avocets present. The day’s rainy weather and associated front had influenced them since they were not present yesterday.  They joined the continuing small contingent of Solitary, Least and Semi-palmated Sandpipers.

August 6, 2017

I visited Dolly Sods, WV today.  Unfortunately the weather remained uncooperative and stayed overcast and temperatures never rose above 62 during my stay.  I observed only four (4) odonate species which were Eastern Red Damsel, Sedge Sprite and both Common and Southern Spreadwing.  The most enjoyable avian highlight was a consistently calling Black-billed Cuckoo.


August 2, 2017

You could say I was seeing Red today. Actually I was having the opportunity to observe four (4) species of meadowhawk with three (3) species observed in West Virginia and one (1) species in Maryland.  It was a nice opportunity to observe the differences and to observe them in the quantities encountered.  (I should mention that none of the Autumn Meadowhawks encountered were a mature male as many were emerging.)  Some photographs are as follows:

July 27, 2017

After the Friday and Saturday rains, I got up and searched for the expected odes at Tucker Park in Goochland County.  The morning was cool and humidity was unseasonably low.  Most enjoyable for me was the observation of an apparent Laura’s Clubtail (Stylurus laurae).  Species totals were as follows:

Eastern Ringtail                               8
Black-shouldered Spinylegs          7
Russet-tipped Clubtail                   3
Laura’s Clubtail                               1
Prince Baskettail                             2

Other species included Powered and Blue-fronted Dancers, American Ruby-spots, Great Blue Skimmers and Slaty Skimmers.

July 26, 2017

After work this evening I visited some nearby storm management ponds here in Frederick County, Va. and was fortunate to observe a migrating Stilt Sandpiper still in breeding plumage.  These ponds have held Killdeer, Least, Spotted and Solitary Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs plus one Western Sandpiper over the last several weeks.

July 23, 2017

I enjoyed some time in the questionable weather of today in both Maryland (Alleghany & Garrett County) and West Virginia (Hampshire County).  I checked several sites out along the C & O Canal and then along the Cacapon River in West Virginia.  The species list was not long but it was a good retreat from the work week.


July 22, 2017

I visited Culpeper County today and the only observations of note were congregating swallows in preparation of migration.  Thirty-six (36) Bank Swallows were seen feeding in one field and perching on adjacent telephone lines.  Barn and Tree Swallows and Purple Martins were in good numbers also.

Bank Swallow in Culpeper County, Va.

Bank Swallow in Culpeper County, Va.

July 16, 2017

Dickcissels, 6 males, continue to sing along SR 608 in Clarke County.  They are in the large field about 1 male from the intersection north of Highway 7.  A Western Sandpiper joined what has been Killdeer, Least, Spotted, Solitary Sandpipers in a couple of storm water management ponds in Frederick County.

July 15, 2017

I traveled north and west today and enjoyed a wonderful visit to Cranesville Swamp Preserve in West Virginia.  What a wonderful place to visit and enjoy.  While the skies proved disappointing, being they only delivered mostly cloudy to occasional partly cloudy skies, the wildlife and beauty of the location were rewarding.  Nice birds included nesting Broad-winged and Cooper’s Hawks and many warbler species. A representative sample of odes, butterflies and robber flies were active during the latter part of the morning.

July 14, 2017

I noted a Walking Stick in Hampshire County, WV today after not seeing one for several years.

July 8 & 9, 2017

I visited Tucker Park and West Creek in Goochland County and First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach during the weekend.  Saturday was very hot and humid in Virginia Beach and Sunday morning was much more enjoyable with lower humidity and temperatures.  Mocha Emeralds and other odes are foraging a usual toward dusk in Goochland County.  Early Sunday on the James, River Cruisers (Royal River and Swift) were patrolling up and down the river.  On Saturday I photographed a tiny dragonfly mimic, Ocyptamus fuscipennis.



June 25, 2017

Hoping for some new West Virginia odes I got up early and traveled to Dolly Sods.  Conditions did not prove very rewarding as the temperature only got to 66 with partly cloudy skies and windy conditions.  Observations were limited to Hagen’s and Northern Bluets, Fragile and Eastern Forktails and an UnIDed Spiketail and clubtail.  The location is still beautiful and the day was very much enjoyed.

This evening I walked the trail at Abram’s Creek in Winchester and was surprised when a young rabbit flushed from the side of the trail only momentarily ahead of a mink in pursuit.  My camera was not on but I quickly tried one shot which was marginal at best but provides insight into the “hot pursuit”.

June 24, 2017

I visited areas in Clarke County, Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia this morning.  I followed up initially on Jon Little’s reporting of Dickcissel at Smithfield Farm in Clark County.  As traveled north on 608 from Highway 7 and came to the first 90 degree curve I heard several Dickcissel’s calling.  From this vantage point I counted a definite 4 and possibly 5 Dickcissels present.  I found the two that Jon had located at Smithfield Farm and then found another 2 further north from the Wickliffe Church to Wickliffe Farm Lane on the left hand side.  Some photographs from my morning follow:

June 18, 2017

I only made it out briefly on Sunday, June 18 and I visited Harrison National Fish Hatchery in Charles City County, Va.

June 11, 2017

I visited Clarke County, Virginia this afternoon with temperatures climbing to ~93 degrees.  My effort was spent walking trails along the Shenandoah River.  Some photographs follow:


June 10, 2017

I got up early today from Winchester, Virginia and headed over to Dolly Sods, WV.  It turned out to be a beautiful day weather wise with mostly clear skies and temperatures ranged from the mid 50’s to low 70’s.  The day was spent enjoying whatever crossed my path as I traveled very rarely on the trails and attempted to travel adjacent to streams and wet areas which as anyone who has hiked in Dolly Sods can attest there are quite a “few”.  Sparrows enjoyed for the day were breeding Song, Swamp, Vesper and Savannah.  Alder Flycatchers were encountered frequently as they were singing on territory and chasing each other with frequency.  Also heard and observed were a lone Purple Finch and Red Crossbill.  Odes encountered were Chalk-fronted Skimmer, Uhler’s Sundragon, Brown Spiketail, Lancet Clubtails, apparent Harpoon Clubtails (couldn’t net any for confirmation/photograph), Northern Pygmy Clubtail, Superb Jewelwing and a few forktails.   Some photographs from the visit follow: