On Sunday, my plucky team of eight braved winter winds and a brief period of sleet for the sector 14 count. We put up a respectable count of 40 species; next year I hope to squeeze out a bit more (maybe Rock Pigeon at Reston Town Center?). Avian highlight: an adult Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) being chased out of a Red-tailed Hawk’s (Buteo jamaicensis) airspace above the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail at Leigh Mill Road. Mammalian highlight: two River Otters (Lutra canadensis) doing their otter thing in Lake Fairfax.
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) numbers were down, perhaps reflecting the semi-mysterious illness afflicting songbirds in the mid-Atlantic this past summer.
I spent a lot of time scouting, but the team knowledge was perhaps more important, and a little liberating.
- Plan for a good 20 minutes of logistics conversations at the first meeting point as people trickle in, and especially if you’re going to split the team first off.
- Exchange phone numbers ahead of time. One of my subparties got separated from one another on their way to their first stop.
- Check your batteries for your camera, not just your phone and tablet.
- Use your field notebook, not a copy of the tally sheet on a clipboard. Too easy for the sheet to slip off in a strong wind, and you’re stuck carrying the board all morning.
- The boathouse at Lake Fairfax makes a tolerable windbreak.
Final results for the Seneca circle will be released by the compiler January-February.