We have had crazy, seesaw, temperature swings here for more than a week, with some days near freezing and then two days later, mid to upper 70s, and then back to cold again. Brisk and consistent winds of 15-20 mph have been associated with these temperature swings, and many of the birds have been hunkered down to keep out of the wind.
I stayed close to home this week, and only did a little birding here in Old Trail and at the nearby Lickinghole Creek and reservoir. There weren't many birds to see, and most of the ones I did see were not out in the open.
The winds died down to about 10 mph, and with temperatures in the low to mid-50s today, I ventured out to the other side of the Blue Ridge. My first stop was at Strickley Road to see if the Snow Bunting might still be with the Horend Larks there. I saw a female American Kestrel on a power line as soon as I turned off from Patterson Mill Road, but I didn't see any Hornerd Larks in the bare field where they usually can be found. I got out of the car, and as I walked along the road, a flock of Horned Larks flew from the field and far into another field, so I moved on.
As I was driving on Little Run Road on my way to the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, I stopped to get some photos of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks.
I saw a first year male American Kestrel near the airport with a mouse that was almost as large as the falcon.
I then decided to try my luck at Swoope. The resident Bald Eagles were reported there a few days ago, and there was always the chance to see more raptors and possibly owls. I saw my third American Kestrel of the day there, and another Red-tailed Hawk, but no Bald Eagles. Thre wasn't a single duck in Smith Lake, but a pair of Belted Kingfishers flew over the lake.
Hoping for less wind in the coming days.