Crisp autumn weather with blue, cloudless skies made for a great morning to be out birding, but occasional breezes kept my avian species count a bit lower than the past few days. We had another soaking rain all day yesterday, so I only hiked part of the narrow trail through the wetlands in Western Park, as it got rather boggy. I did not see the Lincoln's Sparrow today, but did see several Swamp Sparrows and other species.
Some of the birds were rather aggressive. I saw some American Crows chasing a Turkey Vulture, a sight I have seen before, but I also saw a Black Vulture chasing three Canada Geese - a new one for me! [Update: after researching this some more, I now think that the Black Vulture was actually the Black Swan I saw later. I only saw this from behind the birds, and when I saw a larger black bird with white wing tips, I assumed it was a Black Vulture. Black Swans also have white wing tips.]
American Crow chasing Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture chasing Canada Goose
Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow
I only had a dozen or so avian species at this point, so I headed over to the golf course pond, and up the trail past the pond. I saw a few more species, including a very late season Common Yellowthroat. The Virginia "Gold Book" has them out of here by October 20, but mentions that they can be rare early winter visitors, so I wonder if this one will stick around for a while.
Great Blue Heron
On my return by the golf course pond, I saw a small flock of Canada Geese, a Solitary Sandpiper, and a non-countable avian species - an escaped Black Swan.
I have been seeing Black Swans here in central Virginia for more than three years now, and wonder how many are needed to be in the wild, and for how long, before they are considered established and countable. I've seen this species mulitple times here in the Old Trail golf course pond, in the reservoir at Lickinghole Creek (here in Crozet as well), and at Willow Lake in Raphine. Here are a few of my archival photos from previous reports.
Black Swan; Lickinghole; March 14, 2016
Black Swan; Lickinghole; June 28, 2016
Black Swan; Lickinghole; September 16, 2016
Black Swan; Old Trail; December 8, 2016
Black Swans; Lickinghole; February 9, 2017
Black Swan; Willow Lake; March 5, 2019
I continued my hike along Slabtown Branch Creek, and added more avian species to my day list.
White-throated and Field Sparrows
At this point I had 24 avian species plus the Black Swan on my day list, and decided to call it a day. When I got to my house, I added three more species. House Finches and a White-breasted Nuthatch were at my feeder, and a Mourning Dove was on the ground below the feeder, making it 27 species plus the Black Swan. And a Praying Mantis was on my driveway.