Walt Childs and I were asked by Scott Boven to help out with the Gordonsville Christmas Bird Count (Audubon Scociety). Scott's area was south of Gordonsville most of the way to I-64, and a few miles east and west of Route 15. Scott started out with three other birders at 7 a.m., and Walt and I met up with them at 10 a.m., and we left the area at 3:30 p.m. This report only covers the period that we were with Scott's group, and we ended up with 37 species. I saw all but one of these species. The weather was not conducive for birding. Rain had been forecast for the entire day, but was changed to more likely in the afternoon. We drove to the area under heavily overcast skies, and as soon as we got onto route 15, it started to drizzle. The entire time we were birding, there was off and on drizzle/light rain, and dark skies.
We met up with Scott and the rest of his group at the intersection of Route 15 and Jack Jouett Road. I had birded there a few times in previous years, and the field to the south of the road was a reliable spot for Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, and Short-eared Owls (at dusk). We saw one Northern Harrier, one Red-tailed Hawk, and a dark, perched bird far down the field that looked too bulky for a Crow, and may have been a Short-eared Owl, but we could not confirm this. We birded from the road, and the combination of distance and bad weather made for poor photos.
Short-eared Owl or ???
Our next stop was Brackett's Farm, and we hiked around part of the lake and some of the fields. I saw only one Ruddy Duck and a few Hooded Mergansers on the lake. As we left this location, we saw a Red-tailed Hawk that looks like a "northern" race variety.
Scott and the rest of his group headed north to Gordonsville for lunch, and Walt and I went south almost to I-64. We saw a pair of Ring-billed Gulls flying around the small shopping center, but they may have been too far south to be counted in the Gordonsville CBC.
We met up with Scott's group at Jack Jouett Road again after lunch, and this time met the owners of the field where the Short-eared Owls reside, and walked a lot of the field with them. We didn't see any owls, but saw another Northern Harrier and another Red-tailed Hawk, possibly the same ones we saw there in the morning.
Our last stop, and best of the day for Walt and me, was at Hawkwood Farm. There were Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, Ruddy Ducks, Ring-billed Ducks, and a large flock of Buffleheads (close to 20) in the lake, and to our happy surprise, a flock of 17 Tundra Swans. In the field next to the lake, we saw 200+ Canada Geese that all took flight at the same time.
Great Blue Heron
Buffleheads and Tundra Swans
My CBC list:
Great Blue Heron