It was bright, sunny, and a bit warmer this morning, but it was still quite windy with winds coming in from the northwest. I wanted to see if any northern birds may have been pushed into central Virginia, so I headed over to Swoope.
As I drove west on Hewitt Road, I didn't see many birds at all, and wondered if they were still hunkered down from the wind. By the time I reached Cattleman Road, I had seen only a handful of birds and six species: Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Rock Pigeon, Eastern Meadowlark, American Crow, and European Starling.
My first stop in Swoope was at Smith Lake, and here it got interesting. As soon as I got out of my car, I saw a Bald Eagle flying from the lake. There were several large flocks of ducks, and sparrows along the shoreline. I added 11 more avian species there. A pair of Red-tailed Hawks flew over the far end of the lake. At least one of them was a "northern" race hawk.
Mallard, Green-winged Teals, and Northern Pintail
Northern Pintails and Mallard
"Northern" Red-tailed Hawk
Other species at Smith Lake included Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, and American Goldfinch. I drove around the Swoope area and added six more species to the day's list: Canada Goose, Gadwall, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, and Dark-eyed Junco.
Gadwalls - one partially albino?
Next stop was Augusta Springs Wetlands, and it was really quiet there. I saw three Carolina Chickadees, and heard one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
I decided to drive home via Hewitt Road in Swoope, and was surprised that I had not seen an American Kestrel there. Just as I neared the eastern end of Hewitt Road, I spotted a female Kestrel hunting from a power line.
I ended the trip with 27 species. Not bad for a windy, winter day.