When I got up this morning, I wasn't sure where or what time I would get out to do some birding. The temperature was 26 degrees, but at least it was sunny and there wasn't a lot of wind. I finally decided to go over to Lickinghole Creek and Reservoir. I hadn't been there for a few weeks, and perhaps the large reservoir had not frozen, so there might be some ducks and other waterfowl there. And I wanted to check in on the Bald Eagles. I parked on Fairwinds Lane and hiked the trail along the creek to the reservoir. There were lots of sparrows - mostly Field, White-throated, and Dark-eyed Juncos, along with a few Song Sparrows.
Field Sparrow (gray morph)
Field Sparrow (rufous morph)
Song Sparrow (note the spotted undertail coverts)
I was pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of the vegetation along the reservoir had been cut, offering great views of the gravel bar. But there wasn't a single goose, duck, or shorebird to been seen in the reservoir. One of the Bald Eagles was on the nest.
Two Red-shouldered Hawks flew across the reservoir. By the time I got back to my starting point, I only had 17 avian species so far.
I hiked a bit on the adjoing Crozet Connector Trail, and add four more species to my list: Eastern Bluebird and Northern Mockingbird, plus Turkey Vultures and two Red-tailed Hawks. There might have been a very high, third Red-tailed Hawk.
Turkey Vulture and Red-tailed Hawk
When I got back to my car, I saw my 22nd avian spieces of the day: Yellow-rumped Warbler.
I decided to drive down Lake Tree Lane, and take the steep trail down to the reservoir for a second look. Perhaps some other species may have flown in. But there weren't any new species at the reservoir. However, I added four more species along Lake Tree Lane: Common Grackle, Canada Goose, House Finch, and a quick look at a flying Sharp-shinned Hawk. Well, I was close to Beaver Creek Reservoir, so I drove there not expecting much. All I saw there were some more Canada Geese, and a Black Vulture (#27 for the day). I took the long way back to Old Trail, along Browns Gap Turnpike and Jones Mill Road. Jones Mill Road is gravel and only one lane wide with no where to pull off the road. I did see quite a few birds along there, but without stopping, added three more species that I could identify: Starling, Eastern Phoebe, and American Robin.Old Trail
So I had 30 avian species this morning, and decided to see if the female Common Merganser was still in the golf course pond. I have beening seeing it since last December 2. It was there, but hiding at the far side of the pond.
And then I saw a Merlin perched in a tall tree on the east side of the pond. I got some distant shots, but couldn't get very close because of the creek, so I hiked around to get closer. The sun was not at a good angle for photos when I got closer, but the Merlin stayed there while I fiddled with camera settings, and finally got some decent shots.
Merlin (distant photo)
It was a good way to start off March birding!
Here's my species list from today (32 avian species):