The Club has monthly field trips from September through May

Planned Field Trips

 

Past Field Trips

Results of the York River State Park Birding Sites Trip

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

 

Jane Frigo and Marilyn and John Adair met up with the Colestocks at the visitors’ center at 8:15 on a lovely Saturday morning.  The area near the center was busy with Eastern Bluebirds, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Northern Mockingbird, Tufted Titmice, a Great Crested Flycatcher, Indigo Buntings and a Blue Grosbeak, which posed very nicely at the top of a tree.  Jane was first to spot two Cedar Waxwings.  The river overlook provided views of a Bald Eagle, Ospreys and 4 Ruddy Ducks that hadn’t yet flown north with their companions.

The pond area was fairly quiet except for the Great Blue Heron rookery, which had about a dozen herons in residence.  Nearby we spotted an Indigo Bunting and Brown Thrashers and heard Blackpoll Warblers and a Common Yellowthroat.

The trail through the woods yielded lots of bird sounds, but not many good views of Red-eyed Vireos, Yellow-throated Warblers, Carolina Wrens, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Ovenbirds, a Pileated Woodpecker, a Yellow-throated Vireo, a Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Parulas, and a Downy Woodpecker, among others.  Two birds that we got good looks at were a Summer Tanager and Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  We also had close, fleeting views of an Acadian Flycatcher that seemed to be following us along the trail.

The drive back out of the park afforded more opportunities to see and hear multiple bird species.

Ruddy Duck

Mourning Dove

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Laughing Gull

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Blue-headed Vireo

Purple Martin

Barn Swallow

Cedar Waxwing

American Goldfinch

Brown-headed Cowbird

Black-and-white Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Pine Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Blue Grosbeak

Red-shouldered Hawk

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Acadian Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

White-eyed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

American Crow

Fish Crow

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Carolina Wren

Northern Mockingbird

Chipping Sparrow

Eastern Towhee

Yellow-breasted Chat

Ovenbird

Common Yellowthroat

Northern Parula

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Scarlet Tanager

Indigo Bunting

Osprey

Red-bellied Woodpecker

08 May 2021

Downy Woodpecker

Blue Jay

Tufted Titmouse

European Starling

Brown Thrasher

Eastern Bluebird

Summer Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Results of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge birding sites trip

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

The Colestocks met up with Bill Boeh, Dave Brown and Pete Peterman at 07:30 at the Jericho Ditch parking area.  It was a lovely sunny morning with temperatures just right for birding.  We set off to walk Lynn Ditch where Prairie Warblers were in abundance. We also saw or heard (mostly heard, due to the thick foliage) multiple White-eyed Vireos, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Prothonotaries, Northern Parulas and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  Two surprises were a flock of Cedar Waxwings and a flying Wood Duck.  Next, we ventured a bit down Jericho, Hudnell and Williamson trails, which were much quieter than Lynn Ditch.  Among the birds we saw or heard were Common Yellowthroats, Eastern Towhees, Great Crested Flycatchers, Yellow-throated Warblers and a Louisiana Waterthrush.

On the way back out on Jericho Ditch Road, we made multiple stops to see or hear a Hooded Warbler, a Black and White Warbler, Swainson’s Warblers, Marsh Wrens, Yellow-throated Warblers and a flock of Rusty Blackbirds—the “bird of the day”.

On the way to Washington Ditch along White Marsh Road we saw Eastern Meadowlarks, a Red-shouldered Hawk and a Kestrel.  On Washington Ditch road we heard an Ovenbird.  The boardwalk provided another Ovenbird, a Pileated Woodpecker, Prothonotary, Palm and Hooded Warblers, Gt. Crested Flycatchers and a big surprise: we heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 

By the time we started walking down the road towards Lake Drummond, it was close to noon and getting warm, so we did not go very far past the downed trees.  The last few birds were Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Black and White Warblers, a Red-headed Woodpecker, more Prothonotaries and, finally, a Belted Kingfisher.  We all agreed that it had been a good morning for birding. The full list of species seen was:

American Crow

American Kestrel

American Robin

Belted Kingfisher

Black Vulture

Black-and-white Warbler

Blue Jay

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Brown Thrasher

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Wren

Cedar Waxwing

Chipping Sparrow

Common Grackle

Common Yellowthroat

Double-crested Cormorant

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Towhee

European Starling

Fish Crow

Great Blue Heron

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Egret

Hooded Warbler

Louisiana Waterthrush

Marsh Wren

Mourning Dove

Northern Cardinal

Northern Flicker

Northern Parula

Ovenbird

Palm Warbler

Pileated Woodpecker

Pine Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-shouldered Hawk

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Rusty Blackbird

Swainson's Warbler

Tufted Titmouse

Turkey Vulture

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-eyed Vireo

White-throated Sparrow

Wood Duck

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Results of the  Virginia Beach Birding Sites Trip

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

It was another cold, windy morning when four intrepid birders (Dave Youker, Bill Boeh, the Colestocks) met at Little Island Park Saturday morning.  The ocean was choppy, but we got glimpses of Horned Grebes, American Oystercatchers, Razorbills, Surf Scoters, Red-throated and Common Loons, and Red-breasted Mergansers.  Northern Gannets and Brown Pelicans soared over the water in the morning sunlight.  Double-crested Cormorants, Great Black-backed Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls clustered on the beach while a bevy of female Boat-tailed Grackles lined the pier.  Away from the beach, birds were not in abundance; but we saw or heard Killdeer, Northern Mockingbird, Fish Crow, Yellow-rumps and a Gray Catbird, among others.

The next stop was Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The wind seemed to be hindering much bird activity, with Robins being the most common bird on the trails.  Other sightings included a Northern Harrier, Kingfisher, Marsh Wren, Song Sparrow, Osprey, Bald Eagle and Yellow-rumps.  Another hike to the beach revealed Sanderlings, more Gannets, Razorbills, Loons, Grebes and RB Mergansers.

Next, we tried the Harris Teeter retention pond, which had good results in recent weeks, but not when we went.  A pair of Mallards swam in the pond and a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk soared over the fields.  Field and Song Sparrows were seen or heard, along with a Flicker, Fish Crow and Carolina Wren.

Nearby at Sherwood Lakes had more water birds.  We got a close view of a Kingfisher near the entrance and a distant view of an immature Bald Eagle.   Red-breasted Mergansers, Ring-billed Gulls and a Common Loon were spotted on the lake.  Incidental sightings included Song Sparrows and a Mockingbird.  At that point, we concluded the trip and headed home. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sylvan Heights Bird Park Birding

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

•Sign-up:  Please contact Harry or Rochelle Colestock at hcolesto@hotmail.com if you intend on going on this trip.  We will only need additional information if there are more than 30 people interested.

 

•Timing: The park will be open from 9 AM to 4 PM.  Attendees can work their own schedule.  We will not be going as group.  Please check the Sylvan Heights Bird Park website at www.shwpark.com for ticket prices and much additional information on this unique bird facility.  Note the dining information on the site if you are looking for facilities in the area.

 

• Walking the trails of the park should take about two hours.

 

•Social distancing and other health maintenance items related to COVID-19 are found also in the facility website.

 

Results of the Field Trip to Beaver Dam Park

 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

 

The weather cooperated with us with clear, calm conditions with temperatures in the 40’s.  These conditions helped us look at great distance over the water to find Ruddy Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, Ringed-Necked Ducks, Canvasbacks, and a large number of Pied-Billed Grebes and Coots.  Many of the ducks that had originally migrated to Beaverdam pond areas this season have been leaving for other areas in the past six weeks, so we were lucky to see the variety still left in the area. Naturally, we were welcomed in the parking lot by resident Muscovy Ducks.  Several Bald Eagles and a Red-Shouldered Hawk also made appearances. 

After spending a lot of time on the water birds, we ventured on the trails.  By this time, the sun had started to warm up the forest and numerous bird species were vocalizing and feeding in the trees, brush piles, and ground areas.  These species included Juncos; Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers; Brown Thrasher; Downy, Red-Bellied, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Eastern Phoebe; and Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.  As we continued on trails near the water, it was clear that the rainfall in the last six months had saturated the soil and there were numerous water and muddy patches along the way. 

 

Following the trip conclusion, Cindy Schulz invited participants to visit her home at which a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks have been feeding for several days.  This showing capped a day in which we identified 38 other species.

Canada Goose

Muscovy Duck (dom.)

Mallard

Canvasback

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Pied-billed Grebe

American Coot

Ring-billed Gull

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Black Vulture

Bald Eagle

Red-shouldered Hawk

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

 Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Phoebe

Blue Jay

American Crow

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

Brown Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird

Eastern Bluebird

Dark-eyed Junco

White-throated Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Northern Cardinal

Results of the Field Trip to Fort Monroe

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

It was a cool, sunny morning when our group of nine gathered at Phoebus Waterfront Park at 8:00 to start the birding day.  Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, Forster’s Terns and Laughing Gulls lined the pilings, while Song Sparrows flitted about in the bushes.  Lampposts and ship masts provided perching places for Rock Pigeons and Great Black-backed Gulls.  House Sparrows were heard nearby.  Before heading onto the fort, we split into two smaller groups.  A few lucky observers saw “the bird of the day”, a Snowy Egret, on the bridge.

First stops at the marina area yielded more cormorants, gulls, Forster’s Terns and Buffleheads.  One group of birders was surprised when a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in from the water.  Birds seen on buildings and in bushes were American Goldfinches, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and European Starlings.  For such a beautiful day, there wasn’t much more to see on the water except for Common and Red-throated Loons, Ring-billed Gulls and Royal Terns.

As we moved past the old fort, we got good looks at Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows foraging in a grassy area.  A few Savannah Sparrows were also seen. We all spotted huge flocks consisting of approximately Brown-headed Cowbirds, Starlings and Common Grackles. Killdeer were seen in a parking lot.  Mourning Doves were in abundance in the fields, as were Eastern Meadowlarks.  A few Tree Swallows flew overhead.  Silent Northern Mockingbirds watched us from trees.  Views across the water from the campground revealed Great Blue Herons, Horned Grebes, Ruddy Ducks3, a lone Osprey, and a Bald Eagle.

Close to noon the two groups reunited inside the old fort, where we saw a large flock of American Robins. Other sightings included a Red-winged Blackbird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Juncos and White-throats.  Altogether, we saw a combined total of 54 species.  Not bad for early November.  See complete list below.

Bufflehead 

Ruddy Duck

Horned Grebe  

Rock Pigeon      

Mourning Dove

Killdeer

Sanderling          

Greater Yellowlegs         

Laughing Gull    

Ring-billed Gull 

Herring Gull       

Great Black-backed Gull               

Forster's Tern   

Royal Tern          

Common Loon 

Double-crested Cormorant        

Brown Pelican

Great Blue Heron            

Snowy Egret      

Turkey Vulture 

Osprey

Sharp-shinned Hawk     

Bald Eagle           

Belted Kingfisher            

Red-bellied Woodpecker            

Downy Woodpecker     

Northern Flicker              

Blue Jay               

American Crow

Carolina Chickadee         

Tree Swallow    

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Red-Breasted Nuthatch                               

White-breasted Nuthatch                             

Carolina Wren  

European Starling

Brown Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird  

Eastern Bluebird              

American Robin

House Sparrow

House Finch      

American Goldfinch       

Chipping Sparrow           

Dark-eyed Junco             

White-throated Sparrow             

Savannah Sparrow         

Song Sparrow                   

Eastern Meadowlark     

Red-winged Blackbird   

Brown-headed Cowbird              

Common Grackle

Yellow-Rumped Warbler             

Northern Cardinal             

 

Resultes of the Field Trip to Eastern Shore

 

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

The weather for this trip turned out to be surprisingly nice for October with clear skies and warming temperatures throughout the day.  The group of eight birders (Harry and Rochelle Colestock; Dave, Vickie and Lee Youker; Marilyn and John Adair; Michael Meyer) met at the scenic pull-off on the north end of the CBBT. Shortly after arriving, we watched gulls and shorebirds meander along the beach.  We had good views of Sanderlings, Willets, and a Short-billed Dowitcher. Wave after wave of Brown Pelicans flew past.  On the land side, we saw early morning arrivals of vultures, crows, Tree Swallows, Blue Jays and flickers.

Our next birding stop was the Eastern Shore NWR visitor center parking lot, which was quite active with Yellow-Rumped Warblers and Blue Jays.  We also identified Gray Catbirds and Red-breasted Nuthatches.  Hawks were passing through overhead and we saw Broad-wings, a Cooper’s, a Sharp-Shinned and a Red-tailed.  Next, we walked along the main road, looking for warblers.  We saw and heard lots of Yellow-rumps and an American Redstart, but that was it for warblers.  It seemed to be a morning for Blue Jay migration, though—over 100 were counted.

On the trails, we saw more Blue Jays and Tree Swallows, two adult Bald Eagles soaring overhead, a juvenile Bald Eagle, Pine Siskins, Yellow-rumps, another Broad-winged Hawk and two Eastern Towhees.  Other birds seen in abundance were about 80 Red-winged Blackbirds.

The last stop at the NWR was the boat ramp road, which usually does not disappoint birders.  Besides the usual gulls and terns, we had views of Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and White Ibises.  Tree Swallows were flocking—over 100.  Over the marsh we spotted a Northern Harrier and an Osprey.  Special surprises were a Nelson’s Sparrow and three Saltmarsh Sparrows, spotted and identified by Dave.  A Kingfisher hovered in view as we were leaving.

The next stop was the Hawk Watch area at Kiptopeke State Park.  The first birds we saw were at the feeders: Red-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches, Pine Siskins and Blue Jays.  Dave pointed out a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker working a tree.  The hawk platform was not having a busy time when we got there, but we did see a Cooper’s, a Red-tailed and three Bald Eagles.  Part of the group walked the trail in the woods that goes to the Chesapeake Bay and saw lots of gulls and pelicans and one lonely Dunlin.

The final stop was the Cheriton landfill, which has been a club favorite for birding.   The new nature trails to the north of the landfill operation yielded a wide variety of views.  Viewing through the foliage was challenging, but we saw 20 Black-crowned Night Herons, a Yellow-crown Night Heron, a Tricolor Heron, Ruddy Ducks, a Ring-billed Duck, Gadwalls, Pied-billed Grebes, Coots, Canada Geese, Snowy Egrets, and one Snow Goose.  The big surprise was a Common Gallinule spotted by Dave.  Other unexpected sightings were a lone Northern Rough-winged Swallow and two Northern Parulas, and a Magnolia Warbler.  Most of the group left at this point, but Rochelle and Harry walked all the way to the boardwalk and viewing platform on the Ocean.  Here they spotted American Oystercatchers, along with Forster’s and Royal Terns.  At the start of the boardwalk were a Sapsucker, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Pine Siskins.  Walking back on the trail, they saw the last birds of the day—three Eastern Phoebes.  All-in-all, it was to be a great day for birding on the Eastern Shore.

American Oystercatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Snow Goose

Canada Goose

Gadwall

Ring-necked Duck

Ruddy Duck

Pied-billed Grebe

Rock Pigeon

Common Gallinule

American Coot

Tricolored Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Fish Crow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Parula

Dunlin

Forster's Tern

Mourning Dove

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Carolina Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch

American Goldfinch

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

White Ibis

Northern Harrier

Nelson's Sparrow

Saltmarsh Sparrow

Bald Eagle

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Pine Siskin

Eastern Towhee

Red-winged Blackbird

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Brown Thrasher

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

House Finch

Common Yellowthroat

Turkey Vulture

Cooper's Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Downy Woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Cedar Waxwing

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Northern Cardinal

Sanderling

Short-billed Dowitcher

Willet

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Royal Tern

Double-crested Cormorant

Brown Pelican

Black Vulture

Osprey

Belted Kingfisher

Northern Flicker

Blue Jay

American Crow

Tree Swallow

European Starling

Boat-tailed Grackle

American Redstart

Magnolia Warbler

Results of the Field Trip to Hog Island Wildlife Management Area

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Leaders: Harry and Rochelle Colestock

The weather for this trip was a potential factor with the remnants of Hurricane Sally exiting eastward through North Carolina; but the skies were clearing to start the day and it looked promising.  The group of eight birders (Harry Colestock, Wendy and Ellis Maxey, Lorraine Austin, Marilyn and John Adair, Cindy Schulz, and Dave Singletary) met inside Wildlife Management Area after passing through the rigorous security and health screening conducted by Dominion Energy personnel.  The health screening was an automated system to measure body temperature.  Under the new club rules for inhibiting the spread of Coronavirus, we had a caravan of six vehicles carrying the eight birders.

 

From the first stop inside the Area, we spotted several wading birds at a distance in the east to include Snowy and Great Egrets with a single Tricolored Heron amongst them.  As we continued on the driving trail, stopping as opportunities for viewing arose, the winds of the retreating hurricane began to impact the environment with as much as a 15 mph Northeasterly flow off the James River.  However, the noteworthy skills of the HRBC birders came through with identifications of not only many common birds of the region, but also those of Caspian Terns and a stunning Kestrel, who performed a great show of hovering over the field of prey.

 

Following lots of views of the Kestrel, the group went by foot through the fields and around ponds in the area.  The trees along the ponds yielded views of Palm, Pine, and Prairie Warblers along with a swirl of four Brown-Headed Nuthatches.  The snags afforded views and sounds of a Flicker and Red-Headed, Downy, and Pileated Woodpeckers.  The fields produced views of a flock of Bobolinks and the low-level flight of a female Northern Harrier.  Other birds of particular interest included a Cooper’s Hawk and ten Bald Eagles of various ages.  The final count of species for the 4.5 hour, 3.5 mile trek was 43.  Congratulations to the hearty birders who endured birding with masks, a long hike, and no porta-potties!

Canada Goose

Mourning Dove

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Caspian Tern

Royal Tern

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Tricolored Heron

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Osprey

Northern Harrier

Cooper's Hawk

Bald Eagle

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Blue Jay

American Crow

Carolina Chickadee

Tree Swallow

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Carolina Wren

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Eastern Bluebird

American Goldfinch

Chipping Sparrow

Bobolink

Red-winged Blackbird

Palm Warbler

Pine Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Northern Cardinal

Results of the Field Trip to Great Dismal Swamp

The April 11th field trip was cancelled to reduce COVID-19 exposure risk.

Saturday, 6:30 AM, Apr.11, 2020

Leader: Jason Strickland

Ready, set, go: This is a main rationale for having a bird club, so we can all catch the warbler migration at the Great Dismal Swamp during spring. The start time of 6:30 AM sets the formation of carpools at the parking lot of Bass Pro Shops, 1972 Power Plant Parkway in Hampton. The rendezvous at the Swamp will be 7:30 AM at Washington Ditch, which provides access to an elevated trail through the mucky woods. Parties arriving early could bird within sight along the dirt road running parallel to the canal. Cell phone text messages to 757-739-6939 are the best way to reach me. My email jmstrickland228@gmail.com is monitored less frequently.

Field Trip to York River State Park

The March 14 field trip was cancelled to reduce COVID-19 exposure risk.

Saturday, 8:00 AM, Mar. 14, 2020

Leader: Jason Strickland

We’ll be the first to open the gates at 8:00 AM (and pay the $5.00 parking fee), then meeting at the Visitor’s Center. Some of the trails are steeper than those found on the lower Peninsula. Cell phone text messages to 757-739-6939 are the best way to reach me. My email jmstrickland228@gmail.com is monitored less frequently.

Report of the Field Trip to Back Bay by Tram Ride

   

Saturday, 7:00 AM, February 22, 2020

Leader: Jason Strickland

The species list for the trip can be reviewed in the newsletter at the following link. Bird Notes for March/April.

 

Report on the Field Trip to Beaverdam Park in Gloucester  

   

Saturday, 7:30 AM, January 11, 2020

Leader: Jason Strickland

8687 Roaring Springs Road

Gloucester, VA 23061

Scattered middle level clouds, southerly winds of 10 mph, and a temperature in the mid 50s F greeted us around 7:30 AM at this premier park of Gloucester County. Jason Strickland led Dianne Snyder, Sue (Sook) Tominaga, Jane Frigo, Pete and Charm Peterman, Wendy and Ellis Maxey, Rochelle and Harry Colestock, Cindy Schutz, Susan Maples, and Tom Charlock. From the parking lot and the tiny docks of Beaverdam Reservoir, we quickly saw a pair of Bald Eagles, Ruddy Ducks, American Coots, Canada Goose, Muscovy Ducks, Buffleheads, Ringneck Ducks, and Pied Bill Grebes. Jason was able to spot a Belted Kingfisher clear across the lake. Walking southward through a yet-to-awake encampment of Boy Scouts, a small flock of Cedar Waxwings flew overhead. An Eastern Bluebird, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Pine Warbler and a Chipping Sparrow were seen by the trees near the shore.

 

Marching uphill: Jason Strickland, Ellis Maxey, Susan Maples, Rochelle and Harry Colestock

 

Marching uphill from the water’s edge on a road, a Hermit Thrush was found perched at eye level a mere 15 feet from the party. Jason called attention to its stillness and occasional slow pumping of tail. Turning toward the north and east, we chose the lower trail system through the woods. It’s mostly flat, very close to the water, has some gravel, and is a little wider than most trails on the lower Peninsula. We began to spot new species less rapidly, but it was a curious walk, eventually warming to near 70 F. At one point, 4 Pied Bills Grebes were seen in a fairly tight group. We returned on the upper trail a bit further from the water.

 

Overall, the topography of Beaverdam Park is similar to that of the Nolan Trail in Newport News, but its restrooms are much better than those porta potties around Lake Maury.

 

Jason Strickland’s Beaverdam species lists (45+):

Canada Goose 44

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10

Gadwall 8

White-breasted Nuthatch 2

Mallard 2

Winter Wren 1

Ring-necked Duck 6

Carolina Wren 5

Bufflehead 6

Brown Thrasher 1

Hooded Merganser 53

Northern Mockingbird 4

Ruddy Duck 18

Eastern Bluebird 3

Pied-billed Grebe 8

Hermit Thrush 4

American Coot 9

American Robin 1

Ring-billed Gull 78

Cedar Waxwing 12

Herring Gull 1

American Goldfinch 5

Double-crested Cormorant 19

Chipping Sparrow 5

Red-tailed Hawk 1

Dark-eyed Junco 9

Belted Kingfisher 2

White-throated Sparrow 5

Red-bellied Woodpecker 5

Song Sparrow 1

Downy Woodpecker 3

Pine Warbler 2

Hairy Woodpecker 2

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 6

Pileated Woodpecker 2

Northern Cardinal 4

Northern Flicker (Yellow- shafted) 1

Muscovy Duck (Domestic type) 4

Blue Jay 2

Sharp-shinned Hawk 1

American Crow 3

duck sp. 2

Carolina Chickadee 4

Tufted Titmouse 7

Golden-crowned Kinglet 5

 

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

2021 Dismal Swamp Trip group.JPG