It was cold and extremely windy, but the sun was shining brightly, and I wanted to check out the local lakes and ponds. As I was packing my gear into my car, I noticed a male Eastern Bluebird checking out a tree cavity next to my garage. It flew away, and then a female Bluebird emerged from the cavity. This has been a nesting spot for Tufted Titmice for the past few years. Looks like the Bluebirds signed the new lease.
My first planned stop was the Sugar Hollow reservoir where a breeding plumage Common Loon had been reported a few days earlier. My route took me through the Oil Trail area in Crozet, and I stopped when I saw a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk struggling to fly westward into the strong wind, and it finally gave up, pulled in its winds, and shot off like a bullet to the east.
I didn't see any birds at Sugar Hollow, so I headed over to Beaver Creek Lake. I saw an immature Tundra Swan, a Pied-billed Grebe, and a few Canada Geese there.
Next stop was Lickinghole Creek Reservoir where there were lots of Canada Geese (and the feral barnyard goose), a few Killdeers, and at least five Wilson's Snipes. The south end of the marshy area where beavers have taken down many of the trees has dried out without the tree cover, and I was able to walk across that area almost all the way to the other side of the reservoir. The Bald Eagle was still in her nest.
Wilson's Snipe and Killdeer
Wilson's Snipe and Killdeer
Bad hair day for this Field Sparrow
I went from there to the golf course pond at Old Trail where I saw a few American Coots, Ring-billed and Ruddy Ducks, a Gadwall, two Pied-billed Grebes, and a lone Redhead. A darkly colored Red-tailed Hawk soared overhead.
I ended the trip with a stop at the King Family Vineyards, but there wasn't much there to report.
Walt Childs and I went west and south into the Shenandoah Valley, starting off at the Augusta Wetlands where we logged 31 species. It was still sunny, cold, and windy. The best bird there was a Pine Warbler that was foraging on the ground. Golden-crowned Kinglets put on a show for us, and it was fun to see Black-capped Chickadees as Carolina Chickadees are what we mostly see on our side of the Blue Ridge.
Female Hooded Merganser
Male Hooded Merganser
Trying to do a pull-up
"Anyone?! . . . a little help here, please"
"Pull-ups are hard to do"
We headed over the mountain to the southern end of the Swoope area, and added a few more birds to the day's list. There were large mixed flocks of Starlings, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Cowbirds.
Our last stop of the day was in the Stuart's Draft area. We saw lots of sparrows along the railroad tracks, and a few duck species in the pond behing Kohl's to bring our day total to 40 avian species.
Adult and immature White-crowned Sparrows
I hadn't been to the RV Trail for a few days, so I wanted to see what might be there. The trail is just starting to awaken from the persistent winter weather. I saw 22 species, but the only spring arrivals were Red-winged Blackbirds and Tree Swallows.