It was a beautiful spring day with afternoon temperatures that climbed into the mid-70s. I wanted to see if I could re-locate the Clay-colored Sparrow that I had seen a few weeks ago at the Days Inn near Staunton, VA, so that I could get better photos. I prepared myself to listen for the muted buzz-buzz call of this sparrow species, but the loud buzz-buzz of Red-winged Blackbirds overpowered any chance of hearing a muted call. And to make matters worse, a couple of Mockingbirds seemed to like the blackbird call, and they were also repeating its call. However, I did see 19 avian species around the parking lot there in about one hour.
At one point, one of the inn staffers came out to where I was birding. I expected her to ask me what I was doing, but instead she wanted to know what kind of bird was sitting on eggs on the ground there. I replied that it was probably a Killdeer, and asked to her show me where it was. Sure enough, a Killdeer had laid eggs in the gravel between a concrete walkway and the mowed grassy lawn. When the staffer approached the Killdeer, mama wasn't very happy about it.
I saw a Northern Mockingbird there that had the buffiest breast I have ever seen on this species, but from the looks of its tail, I wonder if it was just a stain on it feathers from dirt.
Immature Red-winged Blackbird
Male House Finch
I added five more species along Bell's lane on my way to the Augusta Springs wetlands.
Immature White-crowned Sparrow
A freshly colored Mourning Cloak butterfly greeted my arrival at Augusta Springs wetlands.
As I started my hike around the wetlands, there were a few sparrows in the brush. A Fox Sparrow tried to hide from my camera.
I got off a few shots of an unusual looking sparrow. In the field, I thought it was a song Sparrow, but the photos of it show a very large bill, so I am not sure what it was, but most likely a Song Sparrow, although a Savannah Sparrow might be possible.
As I approached the wooded area, I heard the chuckling call of a Least Bittern, but could not see it. This species had eluded me, even though I have heard its call at multiple birding locations. I saw Golden-crowned Kinglets and a pair of Wood Ducks there, bringing my bird list for the day up to 28.
Next stop was Swoope. As soon as I arrived, I saw a Bald Eagle carrying nesting materials in its talons.
There were Wood Ducks, Green-winged Teals, Mallards, Canada Geese, and a pair of Great Blue Herons at Smith Lake.
Great Blue Heron
I added American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, and a Carolina Wren driving through Stuart's Draft, and a Belted Kingfisher at the pond behind Kohl's was my 36th avian species of the day. A complete list of this day's avian species can be found at the end of this report.
I had to make a trip into Charlottesville, and decided to see if any of the Red-necked Grebes might still be at this lake. All I saw there were some Tree Swallows, a Ruddy Duck, and a female Ring-necked Duck.
Female Ring-necked Duck
There were a pair of Pied-billed Grebes and a pair of Horned Grebes in Lake Monocan. A Great Blue Heron was perched in a tree above Sawmill Creek pond #6, and a Cooper's Hawk did a close fly-by.
Great Blue Heron
Augusta County bird list for 4/2/14:
Great Blue Heron