Current 2012 year total of bird species:

211 (most recent addition: Dickcissel, June 2 2012)

Life bird total:

470 (most recent edition: Black Rail, June 2 2012)

2012 Black Bear count:


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May finishes..sort of a repeat of last year

The 5th month of 2012, the year after my Junior Big Year is coming to a close.  This is not a Junior Big Year, however my birding is shaping up similarly.  The trips last year are what gave me the big numbers.  So far I have not flown anywhere this year and only have one flying trip planned for the rest of the year.  Obviously, my list is lower at this time than it was last year at this time.  Right now my "year list" is at 209 species, last year at this time that number was 302.  Call it 100 below, it is very close.   Although that is a big difference, the way the birds are shaping up is VERY SIMILAR to last year, only with less bird species since there have been less trips.  As an example, last year from mid April-mid May I was adding more than one year bird every day, on average.  Some days there would even be 5 or 8 "new ones".  This is because a large percent of wood-warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, vireos, etc. winter in Mexico or South America.  When the birds return for breeding, a lot of them pass through or breed here in Virginia, so the birds just "racked up".  A very similar scenario happened this year.  I had multiple days with 5-8 year birds and few days with none, from mid April-mid May.  However, at the end of the third week in May, here in Virginia the migration turns the "off switch" with not much notice.  By May 25th, Blackpoll Warblers and a few other "late warblers" are the only ones trickling through, and in very small numbers.  You still have the breeders (Redstarts, Ovenbirds, Black-and-whites, Chestnut-sideds, Hoodeds, Ceruleans, Waterthrushes, and so on) however they are all fairly common and I will have likely "picked them up" by the first week of May.  So come mid May last year year birds all of a sudden became few and far between.  In the first half of May last year I added 21 year birds.  In the second half of May last year I added 4 year birds.  A very similar thing happened this year.  In the first half of May I added 21 (do you see the pattern here?) year birds and so far from May 15-May 29 I have added 1 year bird.  

This shows you, that even when 2 birding years are very different, same patterns can and do occur with bird migration.

Even with birds being slow I've had lots of adventures with non-new birds and bears, etc. lately and I will hope to post an update from my recent adventures tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How plans change

This morning my mom and I had planed to go on a bird walk..but PLANS CHANGE.  We woke up and I checked my emails to find that my friend, who's birthday was today was going to be at Shenandoah National Park for wildlife photography.  I wanted to get to the park myself, so my mom and I were off to the national park to look for Black Bears & our friend.  We found the former first, an apparent adult female bear.  She gave wonderful looks before wandering off into the woods.  Thank you special bear!  We then did find our birthday friend and spent time with him and treated him to a birthday breakfast.  Happy birthday, buddy!

That about raps it up for now.  Tomorrow should be a more-or-less so-so day but Friday I'm off to Shenandoah National Park with my dad and Saturday I'm birding with a friend.  Next week I go camping.  Stay tuned!

I wish I had to go to the dentist more often..

I have a great dentist, but he is over 2 hours away in Fredericksburg, Va.  I love going to the dentist!  Afterwards I get to go birding over in that area, which always yields some birds that are not around/rare in this part of the state.  A trip to the dentist got me my life Greater White-fronted Goose and # 368 for my Junior Big Year last year.

Yesterday my trip to the dentist yielded a wonderful day of birding with a day list of 79 species.  The highlight was a Black Tern, a rare visitor to Virginia.  It had been reported by other birders and my dad and I stopped off to see it on the way back from the dentist.  Other good birds for yesterday included Yellow-breasted Chat (I had heard it before but yesterday was the first time I saw it), Ospreys, and more.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Black Tern

I am very tired and are to get up early tomorrow but I wanted to post this quickly.  My trip east was a success and the highlight was a new year bird for me, Black Tern # 209 for this year.  I have only seen a few in my life so it was a real treat.

I will post a full trip report tomorrow.

Good night, :)


"everyday birding" yesterday--maybe not today

Hi everyone,

yesterday was rainy and wet here in the Shenandoah Valley of VA and I just did some normal "everyday birding"  I did find the usuals which are still nice--Grasshopper Sparrow, Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Least Sandpiper, etc.  It was my mom's birthday so that made it a great day in itself.  Happy birthday, mama!

Today I'm off to see my dentist, but since he works in Fredericksburg, VA some 2+ hours away I'm going to be going birding over there trying to work up my "Fredericksburg City List"  If I find anything but a Starling, House Sparrow, and Pigeon I will post a report on my blog.

I have a couple of exciting days coming up.  Tomorrow I go on a bird walk with the Rockingham Bird Club, Thursday is a bit of a so-so day, but Friday I am going to Shenandoah N. Park to look for bears and Saturday I am birding with a birder friend.  It's going to be great times!

That about raps it up for now.  Wild times,


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Flycatcher ticked and grosbeak found

Keeping this short as it is late but in the same area this evening I ticked my first of year Acadian Flycatcher and saw a Blue Grosbeak, my first for Augusta County.



Since my list post i've done a lot more birding adding 7 more birds to my "2012 year list": Glossy Ibis, Kentucky Warbler, Least Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Common Nighthawk, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and Tennessee Warbler.  The Glossy Ibis was a rare inland ibis, at a pond in Albemarle County, Virginia. The Alder Flycatcher was the first one I had ever seen, although I had heard one before so it was not a true 'lifer'.

Two days ago, a group of 3 birding friends and myself took the day and spent some 13+ hours in Highland County, Virginia having a blast and logging at least 70 bird species, as well as a Red Fox.  That is when/where I added LEFL, ALFL, and CONI.  The CONI was back in my home county, Augusta County Virginia right after we got back from Highland County.

That about raps it up for now.  Stay tuned for more adventures as I look for bears, birds, and other wild things!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

A flycatcher, 2 warblers, and a thrush

Keeping this very short as it is very late but while doing the Augusta County Big Spring Day today I had 4 new year birds: Willow Flycatcher, Prairie Warbler, Cape May Warbler, and Veery.  That brings my 2012 year total of bird species to an even 200.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

7 year birds, 4 bears, and loads of fun ahead of the last post

Hey everyone,

it's been a little while since I've posted..I've been very busy as I think every nature-enthusiast has been because this is a busy time!  Here's why: for one, it's MIGRATION.  I've posted about this before..warblers, vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks, and all the other neotropical migrant birds are returning..passing through and arriving to breed.  And also it's EMERGING time..well, a little past emerging time...Black Bears, my favorite animal are coming out of their winter sleeps and the new cubs are enjoying the world for their first times.

Since May swung around 5 days ago I've ticked 7 new birds for my 2012 year list: Chuck-will's-widow, Canada Warbler, Bank Swallow, Double-crested Cormorant, Least Sandpiper, Warbling Vireo, and Blackpoll Warbler.  The first 6 were added on May 1st when I spent all day birding around my local county in Virginia: Augusta with my good friend Vic Laubach.  That day we found 106 species in the county alone!  The Chuck-will's-widow was a life bird for Vic.

The 7th year bird of may, Blackpoll Warbler was one that I ticked this morning.  The Augusta Bird Club had it's annual birding and brunch picnic and I attended, and there we found 57 species including my FOY Blackpoll, which is my favorite warbler.  The first warbler I ever saw was a Blackpoll Warbler (at least 3 years ago) and then it was the first bird that I ever held, at the Kiptopeke Songbird Banding Station.  With these 2 things, it makes since Blackpoll is my favorite warbler and one of my favorite birds...

Tomorrow the Augusta Bird Club is having it's annual Big Spring Day and many teams will be out around the whole county.  My mom and I have a lot of territory and I can't wait.  I will post an update.

Moving away from the birds topic, I've also seen 4 special bears in May so far.  The first 2 were both young (1-4 year old bears) that I saw while birding on May 1st with Vic.  The third and fourth were a mom with a yearling, while looking for bears in Shenandoah yesterday.  There's a long story to go along with that that I will post sometime but not right now.

Happy wild times,