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  • G Ricketts

Rare bird report Spring 2022

This is a compilation of all rare or unusual bird sightings in our chapter’s region for the spring of 2022. The counties of Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah, Fauquier, and Winchester city are included in our chapter’s region, and are the counties covered in this report. Our chapters wide variety of habitats, combined with weather events and migration season, can create a wonderful opportunity to see rare or unusual birds that would otherwise not be regularly found in our chapter. All data in this report was gathered using the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird website. A huge thank you to all the dedicated birders who use eBird, and so contributed to this report. Anyways, in taxonomic order, I present:


Waterfowl:

Probably the rarest on the waterfowl list, a Trumpeter Swan was seen at Lake Holiday (Frederick) on April 9th. This bird was determined to be very likely a natural vagrant, despite no tags, seeing as it was timed right with northerly winds, and Trumpeter swan migration. There is a feral population of Trumpeter swans in Fauquier County, but these birds were introduced and thus do not make it onto this list. A very late Tundra Swan was seen May 6th on a private farm in Shenandoah County. Tundra Swans are a semi-regular migrant through our region but are generally seen in late fall and late winter/early spring, and often heard at night as they fly overhead. A late Northern Shoveler was seen at Forestville Pond (Shenandoah) on May 5th. This bird is commonly seen in the winter and early spring but is not expected in May. A high count of 17 Long-tailed Ducks was reported at Lake Holiday (Frederick) on April 6th. Long-tailed Ducks are an uncommon migrant, usually seen on deeper water lakes, so this number is quite significant. There were several late Buffleheads seen during May throughout our chapter. While common in the winter, it is unusual to see them after mid to late April. A pair of late Ring-necked Ducks and a Ruddy Duck were seen at Lake Frederick (Frederick) on May 4th.


Doves to Cranes:

The only rare Dove seen in our chapter this spring was Eurasian Collared-Dove. As the name might suggest, this bird is not native to North America, but was introduced out west and down south and has been slowly spreading north. There are several stable populations in the southern part of our state, but they are still quite rare in our chapter’s region. There was one bird first reported on a private farm in Fauquier County, on May 20th. The bird stayed at this location for some time. Another individual was seen at a 7-11 near New Market (Shenandoah). This bird was first reported on April 14th, and likely continues to this day. A couple Rallids were reported in our chapter this spring. Virginia Rails being the most numerous. In Frederick, they were reported at Abrams Creek Wetlands preserve (April 15-16, 22 and May 10th) and Round Hill Road Marsh (April 22, and May 10). VIRA were less common in Fauquier this spring with only two reports: One at Warrenton Reservoir on April 16th, and another at Fauquier Education Farm on April 12th. A Sora was seen at Abrams creek on May 10th, and at the Woods at Warrenton Trail (Fauquier) on May 9th. Surprisingly, no other Rails were reported in our chapters region.


Shorebirds to Gulls and Loons:

Shenandoah county takes the spotlight for shorebirds this spring with a flock of five Black-bellied Plovers seen at the Racetrack Road Pond. These plovers are considered rare in migration throughout our chapter’s region. The only Semipalmated Plover was seen at the Mt. Jackson Soccer complex, also in Shenandoah County, on May 21st. Other somewhat notable shorebirds include Semipalmated Sandpipers at Milburn Road Pond (Frederick) on May 25th, and Race Track Road Pond on May 19th. And then a flock of three Dunlin, also at Race Track Road on the 19th. Forster’s Terns Were seen in a couple of our regions counties: Lake Holiday (April 3rd and May 7th) and Lake Frederick (April 19th), and a private farm pond in Shenandoah on the 6th of April. The only Caspian Tern seen this spring was seen at Belvoir Pond (Fauquier) on April 7th. A couple of Common Loons hung around later than usual. The first of which was seen at Morgan’s Ford Boat ramp (Warren) on May 30th. Another has been seen at Lake Holiday since late May, and likely continues to this day.


Herons to Hawks:

There were a couple American Bitterns in our chapter area this spring. This bird can be particularly hard to find, seeing as they blend in with the marshes they usually inhabit. Blandy Experimental Farm (Clarke) is usually a good place to look, but only one was seen this spring, on the 29th of April. In Fauquier, one bird was found at the Clifton Institute (restricted access) on March 25th. The most notable heron, however, was an Immature Little Blue Heron seen at Cool Spring Battlefield Park (Clarke) on May 10th. This was a first county record for Clarke, but unfortunately was only seen that day. A couple Mississippi Kites were seen in Fauquier County. Both reports near Warrenton on June 23rd, and May 12th.


Flycatchers to Blackbirds:

A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was seen at Lake Frederick on May 16th, and another the next day at Blandy farm. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are the Empidonax genus of flycatchers, a group of drab greenish flycatchers with wingbars, that all look very similar, and are hard to confidently identify. A notable Philadelphia Vireo was reported at Warrenton reservoir (Fauquier) on the 4th of May. Philadelphia Vireos are usually only to be expected in out area in the fall and are uncommon even then. Bank Swallows were seen in most counties this spring, in Frederick they were seen at Lake Frederick (May 2nd, and 5th) and at Third Winchester Battlefield (May 13th), There were some in Clarke on Nation Spring Road (May 13th) and Clay Hill rd (April 24th), Fauquier had a couple at the G.R. Thompson WMA-Thompson Lake area on May 2nd, and then a couple on Belvoir Road on May 19th. Bank Swallows were formerly more common but have declined due to habitat and nesting site loss. Red-breasted Nuthatches were seen this spring, despite it not being an irruption year for the species. One at Elizabeth Furnace rec. area (Shenandoah) on March 5th, one at Dickey Ridge visitor center (Warren) on May 20th, one on the Thompson WMA trillium trail on May 8th, and one near Bluemont (Clarke) on April 22nd. A single Marsh Wren was reported at the Woods at Warrenton Trail on May 26th. Usually, this species is detected more in the spring, but this was the only report for our chapter. Not surprisingly, there were hardly any Pine Siskin reports this spring. A good crop of food up north kept these and most other northern finches-and Red-breasted Nuthatches-from irrupting south, as they have in previous years. Regardless, on bird was seen at the Seven Fountains Pond (Shenandoah) on April 3rd, and another in Warren County on May 5th. American Tree Sparrows were seen, as usual, at Blandy until March 8th, but one Tree Sparrow was seen At Sky Meadows S.P. (Fauquier) on March 22nd. This was the only place a Tree Sparrow was reported.


Warblers to Cardinals:

Blue-winged Warblers were seen in scarce numbers this Spring, with one at Northern Fauquier Community Park (Fauquier, who could’ve guessed) on May 5th, one on Ebenezer Road (Clarke) May 2nd, and at least one individual seen at Third Winchester Battlefield (Frederick) May 2-3rd. A more notable warbler sighting was a Mourning Warbler seen at Lake Frederick on May 2nd. This warbler is usually very hard to see, but in the spring, you can occasionally hear them singing. Another somewhat notable bird this spring is the Dickcissel, with up to three being seen on Boteler rd, regularly since May 15th. The final bird to be included on this report is a notable sighting of a Painted Bunting visiting a private feeder in Clarke. This bird was first seen on May 11th, and it is unclear if the bird stayed longer or not.


And so concludes the Rare Bird Report for the spring of 2022. I hope you enjoyed reading about this report, as I think it shows the incredible diversity and potential that our region has to offer. With Fall Migration ramping up, I encourage each and everyone of you to get out and find birds for yourself. NSVAS offers quite a few different birding and nature walks, ranging from Abrams Creek to Snickers Gap. Consider tagging along on one of our walks, who knows what we’ll see!

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