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NONE, Sep 12

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In early June, Two Sandhill Cranes were seen at ponds and fields around houses on Kiddsville Rd. (Rt. 796), about one mile north of Fishersville. (from Allen Larner)

Last bird alert:

03 Jun 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.

June 2016
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Last news update: 21 Jun 2016

Program for the September, 2016 meeting: Our next "Bird & Brews, Wings & Wine" social hour will be on Tuesday, June 28th, 6 pm at Yelping Dog, 9 East Beverley Street in downtown Staunton.

Augusta Bird Club:
half a century!

Monday's 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.

Spring field trip reports

Summer is upon us, which means that there won't be as many opportunities for birding ventures during the next couple months. So, it's an appropriate time to look back at some of our club's birding expeditions from the past several weeks.

June 4: Highland County

On Saturday, June 4, Allen Larner led the Augusta Bird Club's annual late spring / early summer field trip to Highland County, and fortunately the weather was better than had been forecast. It was the first time the group visited Sapling Ridge, a high-elevation location where we soon spotted a Mourning Warbler, one of our "target species." Higher up, we saw several different species of warblers, most notably Blackburnians and a Magnolia. At the Straight Fork meadow, we heard both Alder and Least Flycatchers, and eventually saw one of the former. Later on we went to the home of the late Margaret O'Bryan* in search of Golden-winged Warblers, and we did identify it, but only by sound, not sight. Then we went to other locations where Golden-winged Warblers are known to breed, but without success. Between the towns of Blue Grass and New Hampden, we saw a Bald Eagle perched in a tree While at the summer home of John Spahr we were waiting we were able to see a lot of birds in the back yard, most notably a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

* Members of the Augusta Bird Club were saddened to hear that Margaret O'Bryan had passed away earlier this spring. Year after year, she had graciously welcomed our group to her home along the West Virginia border in Highland County, and we will miss her.

Montage 04 Jun 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Bald Eagle, House Wren, Alder Flycatcher, Blackburnian Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Magnolia Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Mourning Warbler, and (center) American Goldfinch.

Montage 04 Jun 2016

John Spahr, Allen Larner, and Bob Ake, at the summit of Sapling Ridge. Not pictured are Brenda Tekin, Keith Tekin, and Andrew Clem.

May 25: McCormick's Mill

On May 25, Jo King and five other members of the Augusta Bird Club conducted a field trip to McCormick's Mill, on the southern edge of Augusta County. The morning was pleasantly warm, a lovely day after the many days of rain. The group counted 37 species, of which the highlights were: Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Purple Martin, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Towhees, and Baltimore Oriole. Jo plans to resume birding trips to McCormick's Mill in late August or September, and hopefully your faithful Web site editor will make sure to attend and get some good photos.

May 20: Reddish Knob

After rain forced a three-day postponement, on May 20 the Augusta Bird Club had a field trip to Reddish Knob, with Andrew Clem, Peter Van Acker, and Ed Lawler as participants. At Briery Branch Reservoir we had some dramatic close encounters with a male Indigo Bunting and an aggressive (presumably young) male Black-and-White Warbler. Next we drove along Route 257 upward into the mountains and stopped at two places with a mixture of shrubs and burnt-out trees, and soon saw the first of many Chestnut-sided Warblers, as well as a Blackburnian Warbler and a Scarlet Tanager. After that we stopped at the main intersection at the summit, where we eventually saw a family of Red Crossbills -- one of our main "target species." Then we headed north for about a half mile along the gravel road which follows the crest of the mountain ridge. We saw some species that only breed in the highlands at this latitude, such as Juncos and Yellow-rumped Warblers, as well as some that are more often associated with lowlands: Bluebirds and Brown Thrashers. On the way back down we were fortunate to see a Ruffed Grouse perched on a fallen log, and as an added bonus, we saw one of the babies as well. Next we drove southward along the ridge crest, and saw Black-throated Blue Warbler, a family of Canada Warblers, and a Black-throated Green Warbler. On the way back to Staunton, we saw a female Wood Duck with several youngsters in a pond in the town of Mount Solon. We racked up a a grand total of 57 species altogether.

Montage 20 May 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ruffed Grouse, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Red Crossbill, and in center, American Redstart.

Montage 20 May 2016

Peter Van Acker, Ed Lawler, and Andrew Clem at the summit of Reddish Knob.

May 2: Bell's Lane & Betsy Bell Hill

On Monday, May 2, Penny Warren led a field trip to Bell's Lane. There had been reports of Golden-winged Warblers and Blue-winged Warblers there, but alas they had already left. We did see some unusual migrating species, most notably the White-eyed Vireo seen below. Also, a Baltimore Oriole was in the tree tops. Afterwards, most of us went over to Betsy Bell Hill, where we heard a Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, and other migrating species, but didn't see much other than a Scarlet Tanager or two.

Montage 20 May 2016

White-eyed Vireo, on Bell's Lane.

Montage 20 May 2016

Ann Cline, Peter Van Acker, Allen Larner, Jo King, Linda Corwin, and Penny Warren, at the observation deck on Betsy Bell Hill.

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