Monday, April 08, 2002

The Potomac Valley Audubon Society's Birding 201 field trip this week was wonderful. There was a wonderful turnout of students and the birds were somewhat cooperative as well. The weather on the other hand was not as amiable. The cold temperature and the biting winds caused us to keep moving especially when heading back from the eastern edge of the marsh. I was totally surprised to see that it was only a little after 10 AM when we got back to the cars. The highlights of the day were singing Brown thrashers that greeted us as we arrived. Putting on a show as if previously choreographed, they were a great crowd pleaser. On the way out, heading into the mid-twenty wind chills, I noticed a bird way up on a hillside to the north of the tracks. I tried to hold the binoculars as steady as possible and wasn't certain, but it looked like... but could it be. It has been 12 or so years since one was seen here... could it be. Do I dare to announce what I think I see. "There's a Loggerhead shrike on the the hillside to the right of the large multiflora rose bush!" There I said it, now I'll have to see if they agree with this long distance ID. They concurred! I could see the smiles as they realized that they were seeing a Loggerhead shrike, one of the rarest breeding birds in the panhandle of WV. What a way to end a field trip. How am I going to top this next week???
Birding 201 Altona Marsh Field Trip
Jefferson Co., WV
4-06-2002
Clear to mostly cloudy, 39 F and windy.
Canada Goose
Mallard
Great Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Common Snipe
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
Loggerhead Shrike
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Carolina Wren
Barn Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Rusty Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird

Species seen - 33

Wednesday, April 3, was a sad day. The last of the more than 65 orthopterans, that I had captive for work on a book, died. He was a short-winged meadow katydid, Conocephalus brevipennis, and had been singing in his cage since August. His longevity is remarkable. Most of the others lasted until January. One, a female round-tipped conehead katydid, Neoconocephalus retusis, lived until early March. I will miss the soft purring and ticking of this little brevipennis and I look forward to late summer when I will be able to hear the orthopteran chorus again.