It was a cloudy and raw day. Rain fell throughout the night and into mid-morning, and the temperature was in the mid-40s. I wanted to go over to Swoope and do some birding, because Bobby Whitescarver photographed a rare Upland Sandpiper on one of his pastures two days ago, but also reported that he hadn't seen it since then. I wanted to see if it might still be in the area, and in addition, Short-eared Owls might be out during the day under these darker skies. I waited for the rain to mostly stop, and arrived in Swoope around 11:00 a.m. My first stop was at Smith Lake where I have permission to do birding. One of the resident Bald Eagles was in its nest.
A few Mallards and Green-winged Teals took to flight, and there were some Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks at the east end of the lake.
Buffleheads and Ruddy Duck
I surprised to see a Bonaparte's Gull flying over the lake. It was starting to get its dark breeding hood, and already had its reddish-orange breeding leg color.
I drove around Swoope and hiked where the Upland Sandpiper had been seen, but could not find this rare species.
White-crowned and Savannah Sparrows
Soon after turning onto Livik Road from Cattleman Road, I saw a distant Short-eared Owl flying over a ridge to the east. I got a few photos, but was unable to re-locate this owl as I drove around Swoope.
I drove by the lake at the Boy Scout camp, and saw Buffleheads, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, and two Horned Grebes in the lake.
Horned Grebe, Bufflehead, and Lesser Scaups
Horned Grebe and Lesser Scaup
Horned Grebes and Lesser Scaups
I ended up with 43 avian species in Swoope, and then took a detour on the way home to drive along Bell's Lane in Staunton where Short-eared Owls have been seen. I didn't see the owls, but saw some of the same species and added House Finch and Blue Jay to bring my day's trip list to 45 avian species.
Great Blue Heron