Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Eastern Shore Virginia Birding & Wildlife Festival

The 2014 Eastern Shore Virginia Birding & Wildlife Festival is in 2 weeks, October 10-12. The festival is a wonderful opportunity to learn about migration, birds, and wildlife in an important flyway for migrating birds and Monarch Butterflies. There is a variety of educational field trips that you can sign up for (!event/component_74511) and Brian Sullivan will be speaking in Cape Charles, Friday night.  There will also be exhibits and vendors at the Cape Charles firehouse. Check out for more information regarding the event.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

1034 raptor day

Today was a grand day at the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch,1034 raptors were counted! Our first 1000+ day, of hopefully many, for the season. These upcoming weeks are a great time for spotting big flights of raptors, black birds, Northern Flickers, Blue Jays, and passerines at the hawk watch. Monarch Butterfly detections have also been increasing and should continue to rise. 170 Monarchs were counted from the hawk watch in the past two days. Check out for daily updates on the migration.

American Kestrel with a dragon fly

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

20th annual Kiptopeke Challenge

The 20th annual Kiptopeke Challenge, a birding competition and fund-raising event, was held this past Saturday, September 20th. Nine different teams competed in three different categories. The hawkwatch platform team, the Platform Poachers, consisting of Zak Poulton and myself counted a total of 68 species between the Kiptopeke State Park hawkwatch platform and Ramp Lane at the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, it was very windy on the hawkwatch making it nearly impossible to hear flight calls of fly-over birds.

The 55 species counted from the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch:
Brown Pelican
Double-Crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Rock Pigeon
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Royal Tern
Forster's Tern
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Fish Crow
Eastern Kingbird
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Northern Parula
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Pine Warbler
American Redstart
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird

13 Additional species from Ramp Lane:
American Black Duck
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-heron
Yellow-crowned Night-heron
Clapper Rail
Greater Yellowlegs

The winners are still to be announced.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Swainson's Hawk and Olive-sided Flycatcher

This past Friday, September 19, was an exciting day on the hawkwatch platform. A Swainson's Hawk flew by the platform and circled around in the east for a few minutes at 12:30 P.M. Then an Olive-sided Flycatcher, spotted by Brian Taber, perched in a small branch to the southeast of the platform. The bird soon moved over to "The Snag" where it remained for close to two hours.

The Olive-sided Flycatcher from September 19 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Imperial Moth Caterpillar

A 10 cm Imperial Moth caterpillar was feasting on some plants to the right of the platform for the past few days.

In other news, the hawk migration is well under way. Ospreys and American Kestrels have been pouring through by the hundreds. Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, and Merlin have begun to migrate in small numbers.

CVWO's Monarch Biologist and Educator, Cole Gandee, has started counting Monarchs and searching for individuals to tag.  I will post the schedule of his education presentations soon.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sabine's Gull at Jamestown Ferry

This very rare and strikingly patterned juvenile Sabine's Gull was following the Jamestown/Scotland Ferry near Williamsburg today...they typically migrate far offshore...a first local record and one of few for Virginia.
Brian Taber

Friday, September 12, 2014

Double Eagle Release

Today, at Kiptopeke State Park, the Wildlife Center of Virginia released two juvenile Bald Eagles that they had been treating that had been found on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Over 200 people attended to witness the eagles take their first flights in over a month. These eagles were not fitted with GPS transmitters, but other individuals who were fitted with GPS transmitters and released at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge can be tracked at

The second eagle getting adjusted to the light before release
The first eagle after being released

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Upcoming Eagle Release and Rare Birds

This Friday at 12:30 P.M. there will be a Bald Eagle release at Kiptopeke State Park. The Bald Eagles were being rehabilitated at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Visit for more information on the release and to find links to the Bald Eagles' online rehabilitation diaries.

A juvenile Bald Eagle that flew over the hawk watch platform today

On another exciting note, two western species have shown up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the past two days.  A Western Kingbird was identified on Route 600 just south of Jones Cove Road on September 9 2014 and a Swainson's Hawk was spotted flying high over the hawk watch platform and headed south today. What will show up next?


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ospreys on the Move

A mild cold front moved through Tuesday night, bringing birds with the north winds. The Osprey were the stars of the show for the past two days, with a count close to 200 Osprey today!

One of the 192 Osprey that passed the hawk watch today

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hawk Migration has Started!

The 2014 fall hawk watch at Kiptopeke State Park kicked off today with 14 Osprey and 6 American Kestrels. The first raptor of the season was an Osprey. I,Katie Rittenhouse, am the hawk counter again and will be keeping you updated on here about the latest sighting at the hawk watch and bay watch, updates on the monarch butterfly migration, and educational programs.

Harry Armistead, Bob Anderson, Thuy Tran, Bob Ake, and Chris Foster all helped with a count conducted August 30th from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. They had a nice variety of raptors: 32 Osprey, 4 Bald Eagle, 2 Northern Harrier, 2 Broad-winged Hawk, 1 Red-tailed Hawk, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 2 American Kestrel, 1 Peregrine Falcon.

You can keep updated on the daily counts at