Albemarle County, VA; 12/19/16
I just got a new lens for my camera, and wanted to try it out, as well as try some new camera settings for photographing flying birds. Walt Childs and I stopped at King Family Vineyards in Crozet to see the adult and juvenile, dark-morph, Snow Geese that had been reported seen the day before by Pete Myers.
Augusta County, VA; 12/19/16
We then headed into the Shenandoah Valley, stopping first on Strickley Road where we saw 40+ Horned Larks.
We continued driving back country roads, and ended up seeing 38 avian species for the day, including 12 American Kestrels, 2 Northern Harriers, 3 Red-shouldered Hawks, 7 Red-tailed Hawks, and 1 Bald Eagle (in Swoope).
There were lots of ducks in Smith Lake in Swoope - mostly Mallards, but also a small flock of Green-winged Teals, a few Gadwalls, and at least one Ruddy Duck and one Northern Pintail.
Old Trail; Crozet, Albemarle County, VA; 12/20/16
I wasn't thrilled with my experimental camera settings from the day before, so I reverted to my old camera settings and did some more experimenting here in Old Trail.
Great Blue Heron
At one point in my hike, the juvenile Cooper's Hawk that, two weeks ago, had let me take 800 photos of it during more than 30 minutes of being only a few feet away from it, showed up near the golf course pond. This bird is clearly not afraid of me, and let me get close once again for more photos from different vantage points.
And then the Cooper's Hawk dove into the tall vegetation just a few feet in front of me as it went after a small bird for a meal. The hawk did not re-appear after a minute, so I assumed that it was staying on the ground to have its breakfast, and I moved on.