Warmer weather has returned for a few days, and I went looking for sparrow and other species here in Old Trail, especially in the marshy wetlands area of Western Park. Western Park is surrounded by Old Trail, but is an mostly undeveloped parcel owned by Albemarle County. There is a soccer field and a small community garden, but the rest of it is undeveloped and contains a large area of marshy wetlands. There has been recent acivity to determine how to develop the rest of the park. Some members of the community want more ball fields and playgrounds. Alice and I, along with some other county residents, are doing whatever we can to keep most of this park as it is. There are a few warbler species from spring through autumn, and lots of sparrow species, especially from autumn through spring. The photos below are from both Western Park and other areas in Old Trail.
Great Blue Heron
Eastern Bluebird sizing up a meal
Rain was moving into the area, but not supposed to arrive until mid-afternoon. It was dark and fairly cloudy with moderate wind this morning and afternoon. Walt Childs and I decided to try one of our usual routes though part of Augusta County in the Shenandoah Valley. We started off on Strickley Road just west of Route 340, where we saw a few Horned Larks, Tree Swallows, Killdeers, Eastern Meadowlarks, and an American Kestrel.
We continued along country farm roads towards the Shenadoah Valley Regional Airport. Along the way, we saw some woodland species, more American Kestrels, and seven sparrow species: Chipping, Field, Song, Savannah, White-crowned, White-throated, and Eastern Towhee.
Field and Chipping Sparrows
The highlight species of the day was seen as we approached the airport. We saw a medium-sized bird perched on a branch of a small tree as it swayed in the wind. We got out for a better look. It was a Merlin! We had hoped to get lucky and see this species on this outing. It stayed in that tree for about five miuntes before taking off when it saw some prey.
We continued to a few other sites in Augusta and Rockingham Counties, and ended the day trip with 33 avian species. We didn't see any hawks this day, but the Kestrels and Merlin were a good substitute.