Monday, January 27, 2014

First Great Horned Owl

I was lucky enough to secure a spot on the Birds of Prey excursion with
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy this past weekend. Things began a little slowly, but the afternoon findings more than compensated. I picked up my first Great Horned Owl (thanks to Liam and Laura!), and we had extended and indescribably beautiful views of multiple Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers. (Extra pic included to illustrate just how excellently the Great Horn uses its camouflage.)

There was much gasping from the spectators, you better believe it. There were also extreme measures taken--craning and straining necks, peeking out of sunroofs, crawling on the floors--by those of us in backseats to get good views. It was all worth it because it was a great day.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sandhill Crane @ Temple Hall Regional Farm Park

A life bird appeared out of the morning mist in Loudoun County today. A lone Sandhill Crane picked through the field for its breakfast, affording long looks and many good photos.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Peregrine Falcons @ Jones Point

After receiving a tip from another birder, I hightailed it over to Jones Point to see if the Peregrine Falcon was still perched near the parking lot. Well, not only was the bird still there, but it was also joined by another Peregrine! You'll notice that at least one of the birds is clearly banded.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sandy Point and Riverbend

Spent the day with some water birds, visiting both Maryland and Virginia sites. Started at Sandy Point, where the birding was very good and the weather was good enough. Had some really lovely views of a male and female Common Goldeneye, as well as a Red-breasted Merganser. Bald Eagles were on the hunt, too, which really got the ducks in a frenzy.

The afternoon brought me back to Riverbend, which is easily one of favorite places to bird lately. The diversity of species today was the best I've seen at Riverbend, and I managed to spot a Northern Shoveler, Canvasbacks, a Redhead, numerous Common and Hooded Mergansers, a Wigeon, a Mute Swan, and the highlight of the day... a male Wood Duck!

(Please forgive the poor quality of the photos, as the distance was much too great for my little camera to overcome. Just wanted to be sure I documented the Wood Duck more than anything.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

200th bird! sedge wren @ occoquan

Today, I made quick stops at Riverbend, Occoquan Bay NWR, Mason Neck State Park, and Pohick Bay, with my primary objective to find the Sedge Wren at Occoquan. Well... success! Thanks to the many tips from our birding community and this morning's presence of Jim Goehring, I was able to get really good views of the Sedge Wren within 10 minutes of my arrival. To say the least, the bird did not disappoint. No matter how much you study the bird in books, nothing can prepare you for just how diminutive it really is. Awesome little bird, indeed. (I'm also including a couple of photos to illustrate just how splendidly the Sedge Wren uses camouflage.)

Most notable during my other stops were the numerous Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons (nearly side-by-side!), as well as over 200 American Coots at Pohick; a handful of Wigeon at Mason Neck; and two Winter Wrens and a Merlin hunting at Riverbend. Gotta love winter vacation!

(Here's a bonus photo of an American Crow eyeing a juvenile Bald Eagle and his breakfast.)