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Dec 8, Jan 13

Generally, the second Monday of each month. For more information, see the Meetings page.

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On October 13, a Red Phalarope was spotted by William Leigh on a pond visible from Oakwood Lane about 1/4 mile from Route 11 in Mount Crawford, and it remained there for several days.

Last bird alert:

20 Oct 2014

Due to a wave of spam attacks, this Web site feature has been disabled for the time being. Stay tuned for further announcements.

Augusta Bird Club members may submit rare bird sightings by using the Update page. For further information, or to report any unusual sightings, please contact the rare bird alert coordinator, Allen Larner.

Blue Ridge Young Birders
Blue Rridge Young Birders logo

Gabriel Mapel,
Club President

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Birds of Augusta County book cover

Nearly all copies of the third edition of Birds of Augusta County, edited by YuLee Larner have been sold out, and the remainder can be purchased at our meetings for the reduced price of $5.00. You can still find copies at several local public libraries and school libraries.

December 2014
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Last news update: 09 Dec 2014

Holiday Party:
Monday, December 8th, 6:30 PM (Note the early time.)
Door prizes! Questions on what to bring? Contact Linda Matkins.

Hawk Watch 2014: Wow!

The 2014 Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, our 39th season, was quite an action-packed season with many new records! We finished the season with a record-setting 16 different raptor species (not including vultures), with all species above their 10-year season average and most well-above average. In fact, we had new season records for 11 different species! In total, 24,313 migrating raptors were counted, which is well above our season average of 16,223. Our season spans August 15 to November 30, and we were able to have excellent coverage this year (696.25 total hours). The last time we had over 600 hours of coverage was in 1994. We started the season with a 1-2 punch of two Mississippi Kites on August 15 and 16, followed by a third Mississippi Kite on October 4, breaking the previous season record of one in 8 separate years! Not to be outdone, we had two Rough-legged Hawks (November 16 and 20) where only single sightings occurred in five different prior seasons. Finally, the icing on the cake was a migrant Swainson's Hawk on October 4 where a total of only 3 prior sightings are on record. A second, non-migrant Swainson's Hawk was also observed on August 27. We have never had a prior season with all three of these rare raptor species!

It's been a terrific eagle season! We had 280 Bald Eagles, breaking the previous season record of 224 in 2012. (The season average is 52.) We had 40 Golden Eagles, breaking the previous season record of 22 in 2012. (The season average is 6.) In addition, 5 Golden Eagles were counted on October 17, beating our previous single-day record of 4, and then the record was broken yet again with 6 Golden Eagles on November 12! The falcons have also put on quite a show this season. We had 46 Merlin, breaking the previous season record of 28 in 2013, as well as 65 Peregrine Falcons, breaking the previous season record of 51 in 2006. We also had 403 American Kestrels, breaking the previous season record of 294 in 2011. We had 365 Osprey, breaking the previous season record of 348 in 2011, and the Northern Harrier had a very good season with a total of 92. The buteos all had a very good migration this year, with 156 Red-shouldered Hawks, breaking the previous season record of 67 in 2006. The Broad-winged Hawks put on a great show in September with over 1,000 counted on 8 separate days, ending the season with 18,514 total. (The season average is 13,267.) The Red-tailed Hawks also had a good season with 1,101 total (the season average is 883) including a very unusual, all-white Red-tailed Hawk on November 2. The accipiters also had a very good migration, including a total of 13 Northern Goshawks, an uncommon migrant at Rockfish Gap, breaking the previous season record of 12 in 1999. (The season average is 3). We had 401 Cooper's Hawks, breaking the previous season record of 370 in 2012 (The season average is 166.) The 2,757 Sharp-shinned Hawks was a very strong number. (The season average is 1,329.)

In addition to raptors, we also try to keep track of other avian migrants at Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, and this year we ended with a total of 125 different species including raptors. Among the highlights were a total of 431 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, including a new single-day record of 168 on September 2. (The previous single-day record was 71.) The warblers put on a good show this fall with 21 species recorded. The sparrows also made a great showing with 13 species, including a rare Nelson's Sparrow on October 2. A few uncommon migrants include: Brewer's Blackbird, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Northern Pintail, Great Egret, Rusty Blackbird, Tundra Swan and American Pipit.

The Monarch Butterfly has made a remarkable recovery this year (1,589 counted total) after an abysmal count of only 194 last year! Our highest single-day count was 242 on October 5. We had our 3rd annual Open House on September 14 called "Where the Raptors Soar! A Day at the Hawk Watch." It was very successful with over 111 visitors. We had plenty of food and drinks as well as displays of various educational materials about raptor conservation and migration. The Wildlife Center of Virginia also gave a raptor presentation at 1pm with several live raptors to show!

We would like to recognize and thank all the counters and observers who contributed to a successful season including: Brenda Tekin, Vic Laubach, Rose Thomas, Gabriel Mapel, David Hunter, Allen Larner, William Leigh, Pete Nebel and Josh Laubach. We'd also like to thank Mary and Daniel Mapel who have supported the hawk watch in so many ways. If interested, various photos from our 2014 season can be found at smugmug.com. See you next fall, and keep looking up!

NOTE: The above text is a condensed version of the full report submitted by Vic Laubach and Brenda Tekin, Coordinators of the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch.

Birding course this spring!

The Wide, Wild and Weird World of Birds and Birding
through UVA's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
by John Spahr
Dates: Thursdays, Feb 19, 26, Mar 5, 12
Time: 10:00 am - noon
Location: R.R. Smith Center, Staunton

The course includes a "light" exploration of the biology of birds, liberally illustrated with photos, as well as some basic "how to" of birding. Further exploration of birds will draw on John's personal birding experience in places far (Asia, Africa, South America, Antarctica) and near (USA, Virginia, Augusta Co.). Many fascinating and fancy birds will be highlighted.

For further information, including on-line catalog and registration material, visit www.olliuva.org.

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