The Club has monthly field trips from September through May

Field Trip to Beaverdam Park in Gloucester  

   

Saturday, 7:30 AM, January 11, 2020

Leader: Jason Strickland

8687 Roaring Springs Road

Gloucester, VA 23061

Beaverdam Park is a new destination for HRBC field trips. On December 29 our own Harry Colestock recorded 38 species there, including multi-scores each of hooded mergansers, red-breasted mergansers and American coot, with smaller counts of ruddy duck, pied-billed grebe and bufflehead. The main entrance to Beaverdam Park is about an hour from midtown Newport News. Take US 17N and turn for the north end of VA 616/Roaring Springs Road. Some trails there are of moderate difficulty (more climbing than on the Peninsula). For questions, please use text message to my cell phone (757-739-6939). I check email jmstrickland228@gmail.com less frequently.

Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel Islands Boat Trip

Sunday, January 19, 2020

 

The Williamsburg Bird Club is sponsoring a boat trip to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel islands on Sunday, January 19, 2020.  Club members get first crack at space on the boat.  If you are interested, please send your check (details below) promptly.  Your space is reserved when Ann Carpenter receives your check.  If Club members don’t fill the boat by late December, the Club will open reservations to others.

 

The Club has chartered a large, comfortable boat for this eye-level look at bay ducks, sea ducks, shorebirds, raptors, and more! The last few years, this trip has given the group some views of and photo ops of Humpbacked Whales and Harbor Seals.

 

Birding and photo opportunities should be very good from the boat. The boat will likely go as far as Fisherman Island near the Eastern Shore, and then out to the capes near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay if the birds are there. The CBBT area tends to have smoother water than ocean trips, with many of the same exciting views of birds. It will be possible to do some birding from the warm, dry cabin, but the best views and photo opportunities will be from outside on deck. Clothing that protects against wind and dampness is highly recommended. The boat has ample heated cabin space with seating and tables. It’s equipped with rest rooms.

 

The group should be at the boat, the Bay Princess, by 8:30 AM for a 9 AM sailing. Those who wish to carpool should gather at the Colony Square Shopping Center on Jamestown Road, and leave there no later than 7:30 AM.  The dock at Lynnhaven Inlet is at 3311 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23451. The captain plans to return the boat to the dock at 1 PM.  The seafood restaurant at the dock comes recommended for those who would like to have lunch after the trip.

 

The cost for the trip is $30 per person. Please send your check, payable to “Williamsburg Bird Club” to:

 

Club Treasurer, Attention: Ann Carpenter

PO Box 764

Lightfoot, VA 23090

 

Please include your email address and phone number!  You will be notified when your check has been received.

 

For additional information, please contact George Martin at grm0803@gmail.com, or by phone at 757-920-5403.

Field Trip to Back Bay for Tram Ride

   

Saturday, 7:00 AM, February 22, 2020

Leader: Jason Strickland

We will meet at Bass Pro in Hampton at 7:00 AM and will leave at 7:15 AM heading for Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (BBNWR) in Virginia Beach. We will bird around the Visitors Center until 8:50 AM or so, and the tram will pull out at 9:00 AM. BBNWR has huge, controlled ponds to attract migrating birds, and we are mostly confined to the tram when traversing the Refuge. The tram is open so dress accordingly. As in years past, we are generally free to walk once we reach False Cape State Park. We’ll stop the tram along the way to view waterfowl, hike to the beach and return to the Visitors Center at 1:00 pm. There is an $8.00 charge per person for the mandatory tram ride. This trip is a great way to see wintering waterfowl and other animals. The trip is limited to 24, so a waiting list will be started if 24 is reached. For questions, please use text message to my cell phone (757-739-6939). I check email jmstrickland228@gmail.com less frequently.

PAST FIELD TRIPS

Audubon Christmas Bird Count      

     

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Leader: Bill Boeh

The Hampton Roads Bird Club’s (HRBC) Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) takes place just two months from now, on Saturday, December 14, 2019.  By supporting this effort you’ll be participating in the nation's longest-running citizen science bird project; the first count was conducted in 1900.  HRBC first participated in the CBC in 1952, the year after the Club’s inception. 2019 marks the 120th CBC and the 68th year that HRBC has participated. Our club has observed and recorded over 1,511,800 birds since 1952!

 

Why is this important?  Birds are not doing well.  You are probably aware of the reports that came out recently regarding staggering losses in North American bird populations since 1970.  The following are excerpts from obtained from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website pages:

Nearly 3 billion birds gone since 1970:  The first-ever comprehensive assessment of net population changes in the U.S. and Canada reveals across-the-board declines that scientists call “staggering.” All told, the North American bird population is down by 2.9 billion breeding adults, with devastating losses among birds in every biome. Forests alone have lost 1 billion birds. Grassland bird populations collectively have declined by 53%, or another 720 million birds.

How to help: To understand how birds are faring, scientists need hundreds of thousands of people to report what they’re seeing in backyards, neighborhoods, and wild places around the world. Without this information, scientists will not have enough timely data to show where and when birds are declining around the world.  Enjoy birds while helping science and conservation: Join a project such as the Christmas Bird Count.

So here’s your opportunity to help!  Participation entails counting birds in one (or more) of 13 sectors in our Newport News Circle.  Typically counts are conducted throughout the daylight hours (but that’s ultimately up to each sector leader).  But don’t worry if you can’t participate for the full day; go ahead and volunteer even if you can participate for only a few hours.

If you can’t join the field effort, you can still contribute by conducting a “feeder count”—you simply record the birds you observe in your yard on the count date.  We had very few participate this way last year—would like to do much better in that department this year!

 

So, please sign up at the October or November Club meeting, or contact me (call or text 757-951-7959 or email at dolphrog1@yahoo.com). It’s great fun and a great way to help conserve the birds!

 

For more about the CBC visit the Audubon webpage: http://www.audubon.org/conservation/join-christmas-bird-count

Field Trip to Grandview     

   

Sunday, 7:00 AM, November 24, 2019

Leader: Jason Strickland

We’ll meet at 7:00 AM on October 12 on State Park Drive in Hampton for an extended beach walk on Grandview Nature Preserve. Grandview is a gem of the Peninsula that provides 3 miles of completely undeveloped beach right on the Chesapeake Bay. If you’ve got a scope and are willing to carry it for a 3-4 hour hike in the sand, it would find good use for spotting sea birds. The wind at Grandview is often quite stiff and chilling. Cell phone text messages to 757-739-6939 are the best way to reach me. My email is jmstrickland228@gmail.com

For more information, please follow the following link: http://www.hmana.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/HMANA_Hawks_Guide_09.pdf

 

Field Trip to Fort Monroe

Saturday, 7:00 AM, October 12, 2019

 

This trip began 7:00 AM with a poignant washout but ended with a happy splash. The washout was due to coastal flooding caused by the generation of sea swell from a distant low-pressure system; we were unable to walk the marsh trail to Grandview Beach, our planned destination. Jason Strickland then detoured us to the north beach of Fort Monroe, where splashes exceeding twice a man’s height greeted us along the sea wall. The birding along fairly newly opened sections of that north beach was splendid. 60 species were observed in 4 hours.

At first there was no wind, and the mercury was below 50 F, but soon we had light wind with warming into the 60s. All morning there were scattered to broken thin cirrus clouds which generally provided good illumination for birding [many National Weather Service lidars do not detect high clouds, and the day’s official report at Newport News/Williamsburg Airport actually described our conditions as “fair” and “clear”].

 

The area behind the north beach fronting on the Salt Ponds has live oaks and wax myrtles, and sections have zones thick with vines and berries. There we saw northern mockingbirds, gray catbirds, brown thrashers, eastern bluebirds, and northern cardinals. Birders bold enough to venture in the low undergrowth emerged with dozens of burrs which required removal by the pliers of a multitool. One large puddle was populated by several killdeer; another sported male mallards in peak eclipse plumage.

 

Old bunkers of medium size closer to the sea wall were surrounded with dense vegetation containing songbirds. Two cooper’s hawks posed for photos near one such structure. Jason had Cindy Schultz, Stuart Sweetman, Ellis Maxey, Rochelle and Harry Colestock, and Tom Charlock drive closer to the original Fort, where a least sandpiper and a few semipalmated plovers were observed on the rip rap. Species seen:

Canada Goose

Mallard

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dave

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer

Sanderling

Least Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

Royal Tern

Double-crested Cormorant

Brown Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Yellow-crowned Night-heron

 

Osprey

Cooper's Hawk

Bald Eagle

Red-shouldered Hawk

Belted Kingfisher

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Flicker

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Phoebe

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Fish Crow

Carolina Chickadee

Tree Swallow

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

House Wren

Carolina Wren

European Starling

 

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird

Eastern Bluebird

House Sparrow

House Finch

American Goldfinch

White-crowned Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Meadowlark

Brown-headed Cowbird

Common Yellowthroat

Northern Parula

Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Northern Cardinal

Field Trip to the Eastern Shore

Saturday, 6:30 AM, September 14, 2019

Leader: Jason Strickland

Is a rain-free morning in the Cape Henry vicinity a guaranteed winner for birding during fall migration? Not always. But we did enjoy the warblers that we spotted on our first stop of two hours at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Butterfly Trail.

 

Jason Strickland had mustered Stuart Sweetman, Bill Boeh, Wendy and Ellis Maxey, Jane Frigo, James Abbott, Ryan Walsh, Don Brunk, Lisa Rose, Rochelle and Harry Colestock, and Tom Charlock well before dawn on the south entrance of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. We headed north with broken to scattered mid-level clouds, temperatures in the 70s, and light easterly winds. Highlights at the NWR included black and white warblers, American redstarts, northern parulas, yellow warblers and an ovenbird.  A yellow-billed cuckoo perched in a tree about 20 feet from the road, in the northeast corner of our 2-mile circuit. We heard the strident but merry song of a white-eyed vireo. Jason’s list of 31 species at end covers only those seen in the first 2 hours at the NWR.

 

 

Jason Strickland, Brian Tabor, Lisa Rose, and Stuart Sweetman focus on a variegated fritillary.

 

Shifting to Kiptopeke State Park, it was easier to spot raptors (half a dozen ospreys in one binocular field of view, an American kestrel closely circling a bald eagle...), but songbirds were surprisingly sparse. So what else? The sky cleared and a deck of fair weather cumulus shortly then appeared. In the photo above, Brian Taber of the Williamsburg Bird Club draws attention to a variegated fritillary butterfly. The image below has Harry Colestock leading the charge to a tree wherein Stuart Sweetman observed a northern waterthrush. Stuart later entertained by handling a green snake in the woods. The group fragmented around noon. Birds seen:

Mourning Dove   1

Yellow-billed Cuckoo   7

Laughing Gull   2

Double-crested Cormorant   3

Brown Pelican 79

Turkey Vulture            2

Osprey 2

Great Horned Owl   1

Red-bellied Woodpecker   2

Hairy Woodpecker   1

Pileated Woodpecker   1

Eastern Kingbird.   4

White-eyed Vireo   2

Philadelphia Vireo   1

Red-eyed Vireo          2

Blue Jay   4

American Crow   4

Fish Crow   2

Carolina Chickadee   4

Carolina Wren 7

Gray Catbird   2

American Robin    5

Common Grackle    4

Ovenbird   1

Black-and-white Warbler.  3

Common Yellowthroat   1

American Redstart   9

Northern Parula               3

Yellow Warbler               4

Summer Tanager   1

Northern Cardinal   5

Field Trip to Hog Island       

     

Saturday, 7:00 AM, May 11, 2019

Leader: Jason Strickland

Hog Island is actually a 3,908-acre peninsula that juts into the brackish waters of the James River, creating a mosaic of tidewater habitats that include marsh, tidal channels, swamp, and beach. Agricultural fields and loblolly pine forests surround freshwater sources such as Lawnes Neck and Lower Chippokes Creek. This diversity of habitats, including the large shallow impoundments of Fishhouse Bay and Homewood Creek, attract a vast number of birds, and an exploration of the area will produce a large number of species at any time of the year. Birding the area effectively requires leaving the main road and striking off on foot along the trails that separate the peninsula’s major impoundments. Taken from the Virginia Game and Inland Fishers web page. Click here for link.

We’ll meet at Huntington Beach Park (in the lot closest to the James River Bridge), Newport News, 6:00 AM to car pool or caravan to Hog Island, arriving at about 7:00 AM. The huge American white pelican is often at Hog Island during early May. A $50 entrance fee will cover the entire group, and the cost will be split between the participants. Bring photo identification. You will need it to pass the security checkpoint of the Surry nuclear power plant. We will hike a few miles, mostly on a flat, dirt road with little shade. Some water, a snack, a hat and bug repellent would be welcome. Contact Jason Strickland for questions at 757-739-6939 or jmstrickland228@gmail.com

 

Field Trip to the Dismal Swamp   

     

Saturday, 7:00 AM, April 13, 2019

Leader: Jason Strickland

The April field trip for The Hampton Roads Bird Club is to The Great Dismal Swamp NWR in Suffolk, Va. The trip to the swamp during spring migration is a favorite for many and a bit of a tradition for the club. The swamp is a unique place full of unique habitats for migrating species on their way to there nesting grounds as well as a somewhat easy chance to see resident species that call the swamp there home during the spring and summer months. The swamp has canals and many water filled ditches to offer great hiking and diverse scenery for all types bird and mammal life for everyone to enjoy.

There is a change. The paticipants will meet at the Jericho Ditch parking area at 7:00 AM instead of Washington Ditch because the Washington Ditch road remains closed. Contact Jason Strickland for questions at jmstrickland228@gmail or (757) 739-6939.

 

Field Trip to Grandview       

     

Saturday, 7:00 AM, March 9, 2019

Submitted by Jason Strickland

 

We will meet at the entrance of Grandview Nature Preserve on State Park Drive in Hampton at 7:00 AM on Saturday, March 9, 2019. There will be a few miles of hiking, most of that on sandy breach. Bring your windbreaker. I can be reached at (757) 739-6939 or jmstrickland228@gmail.com.

 

Newcomers to Hampton Roads should be sure to take advantage of Grandview. On one side, you have the shore of the Chesapeake Bay; the other has a dune, behind which is a great salt marsh. Visitors are surprised that, within the city of Hampton, there are miles of scenic, undeveloped beach.

Back Bay Tram Ride to False Cape State Park

Saturday, 7:00 AM, Feb. 16, 2019

Submitted by Andy Hawkins

 

We will meet at Bass Pro in Hampton at 7:00 AM and will leave at 7:15 AM heading for Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (BBNWR) in Virginia Beach. We will bird around the Visitors Center until 8:50 AM or so, and the tram will pull out at 9:00 AM. BBNWR has huge, controlled ponds to attract migrating birds, and we are mostly confined to the tram when traversing the Refuge. The tram is open so dress accordingly. As in years past, we are generally free to walk once we reach False Cape State Park. We’ll stop the tram along the way to view waterfowl, hike to the beach and return to the Visitors Center at 1:00 pm. There is an $8.00 charge per person for the mandatory tram ride. This trip is a great way to see wintering waterfowl and other animals.  The trip is limited to 24, so a waiting list will be started if 24 is reached.  Sign up at the meetings or contact Andy Hawkins at andrewcurtishawkins@gmail.com

Field Trip to Sylvan Bird Park in North Carolina

Saturday, 9:00 AM, Jan. 19, 2019

Submitted by Andy Hawkins

 

Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, North Carolina is an amazing place.  It has one of the largest collections of waterfowl and other birds in the world.  They are generally kept in natural settings, rather than cages, and in January most should be in breeding plumage.  We will meet at Huntington Park in the lot closest to the beach, on Saturday January 19 at 9:00 AM.  We will leave at 9:15 AM and carpool to Scotland Neck, a 1 ½ hour to 1 ¾ hour drive over mostly pleasant countryside, and then have lunch at a local BBQ restaurant. We should arrive at the Park around noon and spend two to three hours. There will be an $11.00 entrance fee, $10.00 dollars for seniors.

 

I highly advise you to go to their website (shwpark.com). Sylvan Bird Park is not an opportunity to miss, for I know of no similar facility nearby. You will see birds from all over the world in natural settings; and have splendid photo opportunities. We will see many of our regular winter waterfowl visitors up close with great views. There will be a good bit of walking but for an additional fee, a guided tour in a golf cart can be arranged. Reservations for a cart tour need to be made in advance. If you are interested in the cart tour, let me know, and I will get you in contact with each other.

andrewcurtishawkins@gmail.com