Central Virginia 3/10/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Augusta and Rockingham Counties

Walt Childs and I headed out this sunny and warmer morning on a photo mission. I wanted to try to get better photos of the Lapland Longspur seen just south of Elkton, Virginia that I had accidently over-exposed in my photos two days ago, and then to see if the Short-eared Owls seen in Swoope might be out in the sunshine. The Longspur had been reported through yesterday, and although we missed it today, it was seen there by someone who had arrived just as we were leaving for Swoope.

We took back roads from route 340 near Elkton all the way to I-81. At the Longspur location and at various points along the way, we saw quite a few Horned Larks and clusters of mixed-species sparrows.


Horned Lark


Horned Lark


White-crowned Sparrow

The SE Owls have been seen many times this winter near the intersection of Cattleman and Livick Roads in the Swoope area of Augusta County, and Vic Laubauch had seen and posted photos of three of them that he saw there yesterday at 11:00 a.m. EST. I suspected that with all the snow cover for the past few days, the SE Owls must have had a hard time finding food, and were taking advantage of the emerging bare ground areas as the snow was melting.

Walt and I arrived at the Swoope area around 12:50 p.m. EDT, and as we were driving along Hewitt Road on our way to Cattleman and Livick Roads, I stopped the car when Walt and I saw a SE Owl flying over the field just north of the road. I jump out with my camera and exclaimed, "There's three of them!" As I was taking photos and fixated on one of the owls, Walt shouted, "FIVE OF THEM!"

The SE Owls put on quite a display. We watched them for 25 minutes. A couple of them stayed far away, but the others came fairly close to see who I was. They often landed on the ground or on a nearby post, but usually landed on the far side of a ridge where we could not see them, and then took off again. I took 310 photos of the quintet, and I apologize in advance for posting so many photos, but it was difficult to decide which photos to post, as so many of them showed different aspects of the SE Owls' flight and plumage variations.


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owls


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owls


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl



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