Christmas Bird Count 2022: Seneca and Central Loudoun

This was my second year leading Seneca’s sector 14, and I was a last-minute recruit to lead a subsector of Central Loudoun’s sector 11, four sites in the vicinity of “Old Ashburn” (the crossroads with the W&OD Trail).

We found a warm place inside to get the sector 14 group organized and then dispersed into a pair of parties. We missed some birds that we found last year, but found new ones, for a total of 46 species. One of my feeder watchers reported an Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina). The Buttermilk Creek Trail (pinned as an eBird hotspot) was marginally productive for Candy and Pat’s party; on the other hand, I had reasonable success with the obscure Lexington Estates Park in Great Falls, despite a bumptious family group passing through. No luck finding Rock Pigeon in my sector, despite some near-twilight parking lot crawling. The north end of Lake Fairfax is more easily accessible from the boat house, rather than walking down the hill from the parking by the water park.

I got to meet some new places and denizens of Ashburn with sector leader Kent Clizbe, and my team of five “beginners” was relatively well experienced. A Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) teed up for us near the Graves Lane pond. Accipiters are still an ID challenge for me. Raptor-on-raptor confrontations are always fun: this time it was another Red-shouldered Hawk challenging a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), flustering a pack of European Starlings in the process. The Borrowers claimed the lens hood on my long lens, and then quickly returned it (thanks, Michael!).

It was a good season for Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) on both counts.