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Voice of the Naturalist

Reports, comments, questions

January 20, 2015
MD/DC/VA/DE/WV panhandle

Gerry Hawkins
Audubon Naturalist Society of the
   Central Atlantic states (independent of NAS!)
Steve Cordle

Reporting Guidelines  |  Archives  |  Naturalist Sightings

Please consider joining ANS, especially if you are a regular user of the Voice (Individual $50; Family $65; Nature Steward $100; Audubon Advocate $200). The membership number is 301-652-9188, option 12; the address is 8940 Jones Mill Road, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; and the web site is http://www.anshome.org.

This is the Voice of the Naturalist, a service of the Audubon Naturalist Society. This report covers the week starting Tuesday, Jan 13 and was completed on Tuesday, Jan 20 at 12:30 p.m.

The top birds this week were PACIFIC LOON* in VA, BARROW’S GOLDENEYE* in MD, SNOWY OWL in DE, MD, and VA, and WESTERN TANAGER* in Virginia and in Maryland and Virginia.  



The PACIFIC LOON* which has been a winter visitor to the Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenburg Co, VA for years, has returned with a sighting from Palmer Point on Jan 18.

A BARROW’S GOLDENEYE* has returned for the 4th year to the Elm’s Environmental Education Center, St. Mary’s Co, MD, with a sighting on Jan 15.

SNOWY OWL sightings increased this past week with one again being seen throughout the week at Ronald Reagan National Airport from nearby Gravelly Point Park in Arlington, VA. On Jan 14 one was flying over Big Water Farm, Queen Anne’s Co, MD. One was also seen at Poplar Island, Talbot Co, MD on the 13th, 14th, & 15th. A SNOWY OWL continues along Port Mahon Road in Kent Co, DE, with the latest sighting on Jan 19. The SNOWY OWL that was seen and photographed in mid-Dec in a backyard in the Woodbridge area of VA close to Rippon Middle School and about a ½ mile from Featherstone NWR, has returned to that area & was again photographed on the 19th.

The male WESTERN TANAGER* continued to be seen at a residence in Settlers’ Mill, James City Co, VA, with the most recent report from the 19th.


GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were seen at a number of different locations throughout the week. There was one on the 15th along Levin Dashiell Rd, Wicomico Co, MD, as well as the continuing bird seen throughout the week at Dyke Marsh, Hunting Creek Bridge, and off the Belle Haven picnic grounds, Fairfax Co, VA. The GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE at Black Hill RP, Montgomery Co, MD, also continued to be seen throughout the week. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was seen Jan 16 at Centennial Lake, Howard Co, MD. One was at Willow Lake, Rockbridge Co, VA on the 13th & 14th; another was seen the 15th along Harrison Rd, Fauquier Co, VA, and two were at the nearby Belvoir Pond on the 19th; another was at Drummond’s Field/Mainland Farm, James City Co, VA, on the 15th & 16th; and still more at C. M. Crockett Park, Fauquier Co, VA, on the 17th & 19th. Two GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were also seen Jan 19 at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax Co, VA. The two continuing GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at the Cumberland-Terminus, Allegany Co were seen throughout the week. Four were seen Jan 18 & 19 at the InVista Ponds (Old DuPont Ponds) in Waynesboro, VA.

The flock of ROSS’S GEESE in Augusta Co, VA, continued to be seen throughout the week in the same area: in the Old Fishersville Quarry off of Exit 91 in Fishersville, a short distance north in a pond along Long Meadow Rd, Rte 608, and on the north end of Fishersville, just across the road from Kiddsville Rd, Rte 796. A SNOW GOOSE was at Black Hill RP the 15th. One was also seen at Dyke Marsh on the 14th while a CACKLING GOOSE was seen the 14th through the 16th at the next door Belle Haven picnic grounds, Fairfax Co, VA, and at the nearby Hunting Creek Bridge on the 15th. There was also a CACKLING GOOSE on the 14th & 16th at Burke Lake Park, Fairfax, VA.

The tagged TRUMPETER SWAN (M78) continues at Black Hill RP, with the latest sighting on Jan 19. The continuing TRUMPETER SWAN, also tagged (L55), at the Cumberland-Terminus was seen throughout the week. And the two, possibly hybrids or escapees, continue at Lake Artemesia, Prince George’s Co, MD, with sightings Jan 14, 18, & 19.

The EURASIAN WIGEONS reported last week in MD were seen again this week with reports of one between the dams at Loch Raven Reservoir in Baltimore Co through Jan 17 and along Bayberry Drive on the Assateague National Seashore, Worcester Co on Jan 13, and up to two males at the Castaways Campground in Worcester Co on Jan 13. The male EURASIAN WIGEON at Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach, VA was seen again on Jan 13-16 as was the one at the Pohick Bay RP, Fairfax Co on Jan 16.

The BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Schoolhouse Pond, Prince George’s Co, MD, was seen throughout the week with the most recent report from Jan 18. The HARLEQUIN DUCK continues at the Indian River Inlet, Sussex Co, DE, with the latest report from Jan 19. Six HARLEQUIN DUCKS were seen Jan 18 at the Ocean City Inlet, Worcester Co, MD. LONG-TAILED DUCKS turned up at several inland locations this past week including the Washington Channel, SW DC; Sandy River Reservoir, Prince Edward Co, VA; Shannondale Lake, Jefferson Co, WV; Burke Lake, Fairfax Co, VA; Hains Point, SW DC; Little Seneca Lake, Montgomery Co, MD; and the Occoquan Marina, Prince William Co, VA.

A RED-NECKED GREBE was seen Jan 14 at the Swan Creek Wetland/Cox Creek DMCF, Anne Arundel Co, MD. A RED-NECKED GREBE was seen Jan 16 at Swift Creek Reservoir, Chesterfield Co, VA.

A BROWN PELICAN was seen Jan 13 at Beverly-Triton Beach, Anne Arundel Co, MD; another was seen the 18th at Franklin Manor, Anne Arundel Co.

On Jan 16 a GOLDEN EAGLE was seen in Worcester Co, MD. It was first seen from Campbelltown Rd perched northwest of a pond; a little later the same bird was seen flying over Fooks Rd towards Peerless Rd. A juvenile GOLDEN EAGLE was seen Jan 17 from Wimer Mountain Rd in Highland Co, VA. Two NORTHERN RED-TAILED HAWKS, a dark form of the RED-TAILED HAWK, and possibly the same bird, were reported in DE; one on the 15th in the Delaware Seashore SP, Sussex Co, and the other on the 17th along Primehook Rd. Two NORTHERN RED-TAILED HAWKS were seen Jan 18 along Russell Rd, Garrett Co, MD. A previously-reported ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK in Rockbridge Co, VA, was relocated on the 17th and 18th; it was west of Brownsburg along New Providence Rd between Hayes Creek Rd and Pisgah Rd.

A COMMON GALLINULE was seen Jan 15 at the Johnson Rd Pond, Wicomico Co, MD.

A flock of SANDHILL CRANES continues to be seen in fields along Bradshaw Road in Kingsville, Baltimore Co, MD, with the most recent report from Jan 19.

A DOVEKIE found the 17th on the sand near the Back Bay NWR Visitor Center, Virginia Beach, VA took several observers by surprise; another DOVEKIE appeared to be stranded on the sand a little north of the parking lot at the Assateague Island National Seashore, Worcester Co, MD on the 18th. One was also seen the 18th at the Ocean City Inlet, Worcester Co, MD. A RAZORBILL was seen Jan 18 from Island #1, South Thimble of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel islands, VA.

A BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen the 13th & 15th at the Wolfe Neck Waste Treatment Plant, Sussex, DE. The BLACK-HEADED GULL turned up on the 16th at the Hunt Valley Towne Centre, Baltimore, MD. A GLAUCOUS GULL was seen along Prime Hook Beach Rd on the 15th.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES continue along Sandpiper Road and other locations in Virginia Beach, VA.

Two SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen on the 17th & three on the 19th along Rectortown Rd about a ¼ mile west of Rectortown, Fauquier Co, VA. One was also seen at Poplar Island on the 14th. Two SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen the 17th and 19th at their traditional site on Bullfrog Rd, east of Baumgardner Rd (park off the road and do not block driveways), Carroll Co, MD. A SHORT-EARED OWL was seen Jan 18 flying in a large fallow field at Stull Rd, north of Frederick, MD.

A LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was seen Jan 19 at the same location it has been seen on and off, a field bounded by Natural Chimneys and Badger Rds, between Mt. Solon and Badger Rd, Augusta Co, VA. NOTE: there are no good places along this road to park for extended observation.

Lowland COMMON RAVENS were seen and heard at several locations this past week.

The SEDGE WREN at Eastern Neck NWR, Kent Co, MD, was heard again on Jan 17.  

LAPLAND LONGSPURS continue to be seen with HORNED LARKS and AMERICAN PIPITS at the Woodward Turf Farm along Norman’s Ford Road in Fauquier Co, VA, throughout the week with 15 reported on Jan 19.

Out-of-season warblers, including COMMON YELLOWTHROATS and PALM WARBLERS, continued to pop up at a number of locations. A NASHVILLE WARBLER was seen at the Belle Haven picnic grounds next to Dyke Marsh, Fairfax Co, VA throughout the week. Another NASHVILLE as well as a PALM WARBLER were found Jan 17 at City Point, Hopewell, VA. ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS continued to be seen at the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC with sightings on Jan 13 & 16 and throughout the week at the Tidal Basin, SW DC. The YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT continued in a residential yard in Charlottesville, VA.

A VESPER SPARROW was photographed Jan 17 at White Marsh Park, Queen Anne’s Co, MD.

A SUMMER TANAGER which is visiting various feeders at the Beacon Place apartments (916 Beacon Square Court, 20878), Kentlands, Montgomery Co, MD, was first seen on the 14th, photographed on the 18th, and was still being seen on the 19th.

A female PAINTED BUNTING turned up at a private residence in Chesapeake Co, VA on the 14th.

The COMMON REDPOLL at Black Hill RP, Montgomery Co, MD, is still visiting the feeders at the visitors’ center with the most recent report from Jan 19. Five COMMON REDPOLLS were found at the Indian River Inlet, DE on the 15th; they first landed on rocks and then flew to the nearby pines. Three COMMON REDPOLLS were seen Jan 18 in Sunset Park, Ocean City, MD.


This week's report was based on reports on the DE, MD, VA, and WV list servers, and on eBird records.

The Audubon Sanctuary Shop (301-652-3606, http://anshome.org/shop) is an excellent source for guidebooks and many other nature-related titles.

To report bird sightings, e-mail your report to voice@anshome.org. Please post reports before midnight Monday, identify the county as well as the state, and include your name and a Tuesday morning contact, e-mail or phone.

Thank you for your interest, and good birding!

*Of interest to the records committee.

Reporting Guidelines

The Voice of the Naturalist is written and recorded on Tuesday mornings. If you email your reports, please email voice@anshome.org, by Monday midnight to make sure they are received in time.

Reports prior to the preceding Tuesday will not be considered.

The area covered is (with rare exceptions) DC, MD, VA, and southern DE; all other reports should be sent to the appropriate rare-bird alert for the area in which the birds were observed.

Be sure to report only those birds that you actually saw, not ones that someone else told you about.

And please remember to include a phone number where you can be reached on Tuesday morning; if you can't be reached to verify a rare bird, your report will almost certainly not be used.

There are two main circumstances in which a bird sighting will not be reported on the Voice as a matter of policy. The first is if the report would jeopardize the bird's welfare:

Reports of species that are threatened or endangered at the state or federal level are generally not used, especially during nesting season--local Loggerhead Shrikes are an example; similarly, owls are not listed, with two exceptions--Snowy Owl and Short-eared Owl; and rails are also generally not mentioned; the rails at Huntley Meadows Park, VA, are an exception because birders stay on the boardwalk.

The second circumstance concerns private property: If the property owner does not want birders, the sighting will not be reported--at least in a way that identifies the location.

Please keep your reports concise (no lengthy trip reports, please), and provide the following information:


NUMBER of individuals of each species (estimates for big flocks are fine).

Age and sex, if relevant (important for gull observations, for example).

Location, including COUNTY and STATE (there are four Middletowns in MD).

DATE of observation ("today", "yesterday", "Saturday", etc., are not as helpful).

TELEPHONE NUMBER where you can be reached on Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

DIRECTIONS to little known places (your favorite local hot spot may not be familiar to the Voice compiler or to other nonlocal people); page numbers and map coordinates from the DeLorme atlas/gazetteer are extremely helpful.

Access limitations, if any; and, for birds that are on private property, whether the owner does not want birders, if you know.

Unusual behavior seen.

For RARITIES, a description of features YOU ACTUALLY SAW (not what is in the field guides).

Thanks in advance for your reports. You can be sure that they will be read. Don't be disappointed if your sighting isn't mentioned; when there are a lot of reports, summary comments sometimes have to be made. There are times, however, when every report is used in writing the Voice, for example, during the hot days of summer. -- Voice of the Naturalist


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