Saturday, March 21, 2009

Northern Goshawk at College Creek Hawkwatch

Today, March 21, 2009, there was a Northern Goshawk, apparently a sub-adult, that crossed the river, then circled for 2 minutes, affording excellent views through a scope. It's only the 3rd record for the site. The flight continued from yesterday's record with 103 birds recorded today...only the second time there have been back-to-back 100+ bird days at the hawkwatch.

Brian Taber

Friday, March 20, 2009

Record Day at College Creek Hawkwatch

Today, March 20, 2009, the first day of spring, the hawkwatch recorded its highest total in its 13 years! Tom Armour, Fred Blystone, Bill Williams and I watched as 190 birds crossed the river, breaking the record of 173 set on March 23, 2003. The days around the equinox have generally been very good each year and today's exciting flight came with strong northeast winds, usually not a good wind for migration at the the site. We also saw our largest flock ever, 50 birds, in a mixed-species group. The birds struggled to make the water crossing into the headwind.

9 species is excellent diversity for the site:

Black Vulture 2
Turkey Vulture 167 breaks the previous record of 125
Osprey 7
Bald Eagle 3
Northern Harrier 2 first ones of the season
Sharp-shinned 1
Red-tailed 4
American Kestrel 3
Merlin 1 first of the season, rare at the site

Yesterday, with very pleasant temperatures and southerly winds, the total was only 6....but the first Rough-winged Swallows and Royal Terns of the season were at the site.

Today there were also 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls sitting onthe sand spit and the American White Pelican was seen again over Hog Island.

Brian Taber

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

White Pelican at College Creek Hawkwatch

Today, March 18, 2009, at about 11 a.m. an American White Pelican was seen soaring over Hog Island, across the river from the hawkwatch, by Fred Blystone, Shirley Devan, Bill Williams and me....and....after 5 days of steady, cold rain, the migration resumed with an excellent 7 species at the hawkwatch....3 Black Vultures, 29 Turkey Vultures, 2 Ospreys, 2 Bald Eagles, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Coooper's Hawk and 3 Red-tailed Hawks...most were low and near the parking lot as they crossed the river after the fog lifted.

Brian Taber

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tundra Swans at College Creek Hawkwatch, March 11




There weren't many hawks or vultures today, but Fred Blystone, Bill Williams and I were treated to a remarkable Tundra Swan show.....nearly 1400 birds...in the marsh, on the river and flying over! Many were also flying over Williamsburg the previous night.




Brian Taber

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Prothonotary Boxes on Dragon Run

Pictured is Gary Driscole, who with his wife Adrienne Frank, installed 10 Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes on March 7th along Dragon Run. For more information about Friends of Dragon Run, there is a website link on the CVWO website. They even managed to get a picture with partnering organization logos....Historic Rivers Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists, Dragon Run and CVWO!

College Creek Hawkwatch, March 8, 2009

Following the snowstorm earlier in the week, temperatures rebounded nicely, reaching the 70s today and the migration rebounded as well. In addition to our first butterfly, a Mourning Cloak yesterday and our first Laughing Gull yesterday, Fred Blystone and I have counted more than a hundred vultures and hawks over the past 2 days, about equalling our February total. Today we saw our first American Kestrel, a species whose totals here have been under 20 for the past 4 years. Hundreds of Tree Swallows and Ring-billed Gulls and nearly a hundred Fish Crows moved north across the river as well.

Brian Taber

Monday, March 2, 2009

Colonial Parkway in the Snow, March 2, 2009


The area around the College Creek Hawkwatch on the Colonial Parkway along the James River always has lots of sparrows when it snows...today 2-3 inches... as there is melting along the edge of the usually quiet road, exposing a narrow band of grass and mud to feed in. Today there was Vesper Sparrow, rare in this area (photo) and 152 White-throated Sparrows, 63 Dark-eyed Juncos, 51 Fox Sparrows, 9 Northern Cardinals, 7 Chipping Sparrows, 3 Savannah Sparrows, 3 Song Sparrows and an Eastern Towhee. In addition, there were many American Robins, 31 American Pipits, 7 Killdeer and a dead Greater Yellowlegs.


Brian Taber