Field Shots of Notable Birds - 2015


Previously identified Sedge Wren, refound on the Ft. Belvoir CBC (1-4-2015) by Gerco Hoogeweg and myself. We were told where to stand, we played a Sedge Wren call, and eventually this phlegmatic little bird showed up and we looked at each other for a while.



An American Pipit, one of three, seen at Sandy Point Park in Maryland, near Annapolis, on 11 January 2015. One of the few Pipits that I have seen up close when the temperature was warmer than 20F, which led to a couple of observations. One is that I had always thought that the field guide illustrations showing them with long legs were whacked. As best I could tell previously, they might not even have legs. But clearly they must hunker way down, keeping their legs close to their bodies in really cold weather. The other observation (not obvious in this photo, though you can see it on the left foot if you look closely) is that the rear toe has a really long nail, at least a cm long.



This Common Redpoll had been coming to the rather grand feeding station at Black Hill Regional Park in Boyd Maryland for several weeks. Phil Kenny and I traveled up there on 25 January 2015 to see this bird and some other unusual species in the park. The Redpoll flew in, fed for about a minute, and then flew out. We got pictures (only this one came out for me, camera would not focus) and Hugh McGuiness was also there and saw the bird. But as far as I know, it did not return over the next 90 minutes, dissapointing quite a few birders.



On the same visit to Black Hill Regional Park in Boyd Maryland on 25 January 2015, we also observed a Common Loon and this Trumpeter Swan. We were alerted to the bird being visible from the kayak launch area. From that spot we had distant views, where we could just make out the wing tags ("M78" yellow tags) but I could not honestly identify to species. So we went back to the nature center area, walked down to the shore, and ended up getting within about 12' of the bird, who was not particularly alarmed by our presence.



I made the long drive out to Remington in early February, hoping for a Lapland Longspur or two. No luck, though there was quite a bit of bird activity. Leaving, I drove in on Savannah Branch Road which produced a nice flock of (ta-dah) Savannah Sparrows. I thought this shot of one flying at me was kind of cool.



In Richmond for a fencing tournament my son was at, I took the opportunity to break away and head over to Paul Bedell's house a bit ahead of a looming snow storm (February 14th, happy Valentines Day!). There I saw many species at his feeders, including Pine Warbler and Hermit Thrush. And eventually the target species, this White-winged Dove that had been visiting his feeder for 3 or 4 days. It was great to meet Paul, who came out to say hi, thinking I was Mike Iwonik, who showed up a little later.



Enroute to a VSO Board Meeting in Charlottesville, I swung an hour out of my way on February 28th to stop at the Shennandoah Valley Regional Airport at Weyer's Cave, Virginia. The hope was to see the continuing Smith's Longspur (or perhaps Longspurs, as several people believe there are two). It was about 8F when I arrived, a bit nippy to say the least. Horned Larks were everywhere, very busy. After about 30 minutes, the Longspur showed up. I got to see it briefly and unsatisfyingly from afar, backlit and subsequently flushed by a stray dog trotting through. Happily, it came back and actually ended up working its way up the road until it was exactly opposite me. Note the cracked corn in the second shot; someone had put out some food and the bird seemed interested. I include two shots here to point out how different the bird looked, based on angle and background. Oh, and while there I also added Dick Rowe to my life list of birders ... nice to finally meet him, as I have admired his work to document the birds of Rockbridge County.



Fred Atwood reported 4 Sandhill Cranes on farmland in King George county near Fredericksburg. They stuck around for quite a while and many birders saw them. Beautiful birds, my guess, based on feathering and eye color, is that they were second year birds. Phil Kenny and I drove down to see them on November 7th.


One of the few birds I've managed to see at Winkler Botanical Preserve in Alexandria that was flagged as "rare". This Blue-headed Vireo as with the other cases is a late bird, appearing on November 20th. BHVI are regular visitors to Winkler during more expected dates.