Dutch Gap, VA 2/25/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs and I had already planned to go this morning to the Dutch Gap Conservation Area in Chesterfield, Virginia, just south of Richmond, when we added a quick side trip to the journey. A few days ago I signed up on www.eBird.org to get rare bird alerts in Virginia, and read yesterday morning that a Rufous Hummingbird, nick-named "Little Sarge," had been coming to a bird feeder at a home just a few miles from Dutch Gap. After doing a bit of Internet research, I was able to get the name, address, and phone number of the home owner, Julie Kacmarcik, gave her a call, and got permission from her for Walt and me to go into her back yard and look for the hummingbird.

It was supposed to be sunny, but there was light overcast all day long. Our target birds at Dutch Gap were Bitterns, Rails, and small birds that might be along the shore line. We had seen an American Bittern there last December, although there had not been any recent reports of it.

We spent most of the first hour or so at and along the two platforms that overlook the large marsh just before the Dutch Gap parking lot. There were more Ring-necked Ducks than I had ever seen before, perhaps as many as 100 of them, in addition to lots of other waterfowl - American Wigeons, Gadwalls, Wood Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, American Coots, and Mallards.

We didn't see any Bitterns or Rails near the shore line, but saw six sparrow species, a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a secretive Winter Wren.


Ring-necked Duck


American Wigeons and Wood Ducks


Northern Pintails


Northern Pintail


Gadwalls


Gadwall


Northern Shovelers


Northern Shovelers


Golden-crowned Kinglet


Golden-crowned Kinglet


Savannah Sparrow


Winter Wren


Winter Wren


Winter Wren

We decided to take a break and head over to Julie's house to look for the Rufous Hummingbird. Her house should be listed as a Virginia birding "hot spot," as we saw 18 species in about 45 minutes while we were standing in her back yard. In addition to a Brown Creeper and a Bald Eagle that did a flyover just as we were getting ready to leave, "Little Sarge" made three appearances to two different feeders while we were there, although I wasn't able to get as close to him as I wanted for some close-up photos. But I am not complaining - the Rufous Hummingbird was a new life bird for me.


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird


Brown Creeper


Yellow-rumped Warbler


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle


Bald Eagle

After a quick lunch, Walt and I headed back to Dutch Gap, this time hiking along the trail, and stopping briefly again at the two marsh overlooks. We ended the day with 53 species that included a Red-shouldered Hawk we saw along the road just after we left Dutch Gap.


Great Blue Herons


Great Blue Herons


"Now where did I drop that seed?"


Ring-billed Gull


This guy sat on the overlook platform rail only two feet away from me as I took pictures


Double-crested Cormorants


Just doing some duck watching


Just doing some duck watching


"Look at all the ducks at this marsh"

Today's list (53 species):

Double-crested Cormorant
American Coot
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Mallard
Gadwall
Northern Pintail
Ring-necked Duck
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
American Kestrel
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Tree Swallow
Eastern Phoebe
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Rufous Hummingbird
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Hermit Thrush
Brown Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Swamp Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Meadowlark
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch
Purple Finch
House Finch




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