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NONE, Sep 12

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

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On July 14, two Great Egrets were seen at the pond behind the Hardees across from the Antiques Mall in Verona. One of those birds was seen near Verona a day or two later.

Last bird alert:

18 Jul 2016

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
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Gabriel Mapel,
Club President

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Birds of Augusta County book cover

Birds of Augusta County, edited by YuLee Larner. Copies may be found at local public libraries and school libraries.

July 2016
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Last news update: 19 Jul 2016

Program for the September, 2016 meeting: Our next "Birds & Brews, Wings & Wine" social hour will be on Tuesday, July 26th, 6 pm at Yelping Dog, 9 East Beverley Street in downtown Staunton.

More unusual bird sightings

As the summer advances, we keep getting reports of rare or uncommon birds in Augusta County and elsewhere in the Shenandoah Valley. Shorebirds and marsh-dwelling birds are most conspicuous this time of year, and it always pays to keep your eyes open for something you don't expect! Whether you are a member of the Augusta Bird Club or someone in general public, please direct any reports of unusual birds to Allen Larner, who is in charge of local bird alerts; see the Contact page. We appreciate all such reports!

Sandhill Cranes

Great Egret, on the pond behind the Hardee's across from the Antiques Mall in Verona, July 14, 2016.

Earlier in July, a family of Soras was reported in the Nazarene Church Road wetlands, on the southwestern edge of Rockingham County. According to Birds of Augusta County (2008), there is only one nesting record of Soras in this county, in 1973, and that nest was abandoned before the eggs hatched. More recently, a family of Virginia Rails was observed in the same location on Nazarene Church Road. (One of the latter species made a brief visit to Bell's Lane last February.)


Sora, in the Nazarene Church Road wetlands, July 8, 2016.

Rare birds: Sandhill Cranes

A pair of Sandhill Cranes has been visiting the area north of Fishersville off and on since early June, or perhaps earlier. This species breeds primarily in the northern latitudes (Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, and Canada), although some of them breed in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. There have been two sightings of Sandhill Cranes in Augusta County during the summer months (2002 and 2004), but there are no records of breeding.

UPDATE: There have been additional reports of the Sandhill Cranes in the same area, as recently as July 17. There is no indication as to whether breeding has occurred, however.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes, on Kiddsville Road northeast of Fishersville, June 2, 2016.

Rare bird: Caspian Tern

Faye Cooper had organized a botany filed trip for May 10th and asked if I could come along to add a birding component. A couple of highlights were two Common Loons at Braley Pond, and then at Elkhorn Lake we had a Caspian Tern. Most of the group were not birders but watching this Caspian fly and dive captured everyone's attention. The tern had a fish in its beak and would drop it and then catch in midair and he did this over and over. Great fun to watch but after about 15 or 20 minutes of this antic, one member in the group finally said sarcastically, "just eat the damn fish!!!" Then, when we thought the show was over, who swoops in but a Bald Eagle and he seemed to try to shoo away the tern so he had solo rights to fishing and he dove down, caught a fish and off he went. We were about to leave when a hummingbird darted by... a perfect, petite counterpart ending to the eagle sighting! I notified Dan Perkuchin of the Caspian Tern sighting and it broke the late spring extreme date of May 6, 1978.

by Penny Warren

Caspian Tern

Augusta Bird Club: half a century!

The June 19 issue of the News Leader (published in Staunton) had a front-page story about the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Augusta Bird Club in 1966, describing its origins. John Mehner, a professor at Mary Baldwin College, taught an ornithology course that was audited by YuLee Larner and Isabel Obenschain, who became two of the club's charter members. (More information is contained on our Welcome / About Us page.) The article went on to profile outgoing club president Penny Warren and the survey work she is doing (along with fellow club member Diane Holsinger) for the Virginia Working Landscapes Grassland Bird Survey with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

On a related note, Penny is stepping down from the office of president, which she has held for the past five years. Augusta Bird Club members are deeply grateful to Penny for all the hard work and creative energy she has contributed to making our club more active and more effective in fulfilling its basic scientific and educational mission as far as the study of birds, and the conservation of bird life in Virginia. Penny will be replaced by Peter Van Acker, who was elected by club members in April.

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