Unseasonable, record-breaking warm weather permeated the region in mid-February, and both the average daily highs and lows were the highest recorded temperatures during this period for at least ten years. The first daffodils of the season are in bloom, and purple blankets of clover are covering many fields now in southern Virginia Beach. Birding picked up considerably from last period, and the sheer number of checklists submitted to eBird in mid-February was bolstered by this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count event, which took place from 16-19 Feb, and resulted in a pair of exciting finds that may otherwise have gone unknown. Top records for the mid-February period included new rarity reports for WESTERN GREBE, EURASIAN WIGEON, PURPLE FINCH, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE & PAINTED BUNTING, continuing rarity reports for BLACK-HEADED GULL & WESTERN TANAGER, a new unseasonal occurrence for YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, and a continuing unseasonal occurrence for YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER! WEATHER: Record high temperatures were achieved on several days across the region during mid-February and as a whole, this was the warmest period both in terms of daily lows and highs in at least ten years (all the data I have currently at hand). Average daily high temperatures rose 9.0° from 52.3° F in early February to 61.3° (+10.6° from prior 10-year...Click Here to Continue Reading!
Despite warm weather throughout early February, we logged yet another snowfall event (though a minor instance) on Friday, 2 Feb. In stark contrast to the same period in 2017, alcid numbered remained low, with a high count of Razorbills remaining in single digits (6 to be exact), compared to last year’s 4,000+ logged on a single checklist. While our hope for another major movement of these birds in 2018 appears to be losing a bit of steam with each period passed, there was still lots to be excited about around the city, as always! Top records for the early February period included new reports for AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, continuing reports for BLACK-HEADED GULL, COMMON MERGANSERS & WESTERN TANAGER and an unseasonal occurrence for BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER! WEATHER: Most years, early February represents the beginning of rising temperatures, and this year continued that trend. Average daily high temperatures rose 0.1° from 52.1° F in late January to 52.3° (+0.8° from prior 10-year average), with average daily low temperatures actually falling 4.8° from 34.0° to 29.2° F (-4.9° from prior 10-year average). Overall, temperatures ranged from a minimum of 19° F (on 3 Feb) to a maximum of 66° (7 Feb). A total of 0.85” of rain fell during the period, with 0.44” recorded on Wednesday, 7 Feb. Minor snowfall accumulations occurred on Friday, 2 Feb. Maximum sustained winds at Oceana...Click Here to Continue Reading!
With a warm start to late January (72° F), temperatures eventually dropped to near-normal values. For a third straight period in a row, we received snowfall accumulations, with yet another nor’easter sliding past us on 30 Jan. The Winter Wildlife Festival took place from 26-28 Jan, which helped add some records to eBird, but overall, rarity observations were down a bit from the madness that early & mid-January raised the bar to. Top records for late January included new records for BLACK-HEADED GULL & AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, continuing reports of CACKLING GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, COMMON MERGANSER, WESTERN TANAGER, BREWER’S BLACKBIRD and an ongoing unseasonal occurrence of YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER! WEATHER: In a typical year, late January is expected to be the coldest of the thrice-monthly periods here in Virginia Beach, however thanks to a very unseasonal first few days this was strangely the warmest period of 2018 thus far. Average daily high temperatures rose 1.7° from 50.4° F in early January to 52.1° (+4.0° from prior 10-year average), with average daily low temperatures also increasing 2.2° from 31.8° to 34.0° F (+3.3° from prior 10-year average). Overall, temperatures ranged from a minimum of 24° F (on both 26 & 31 Jan) to a maximum of 72° (23 Jan). A total of 1.72” of rain fell during the period, with 1.03”...Click Here to Continue Reading!
Following the arctic-style freeze we felt throughout early January, the middle third of the month actually began with several unseasonably-warm days (reaching 71°F). It was short-lived however, and another snowfall event associated with our second coastal nor’easter of the season moved in on the 17th/18th, though accumulations were anywhere from 1-3” across the city, rather than the 8-12” seen back on the 3rd/4th. Bolstered by a pair of bird club boat trips to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, this period featured a staggering number of reports, and top records included new records for AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, WESTERN TANAGER, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, COMMON MERGANSER, HARLEQUIN DUCK, continuing reports of CACKLING GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, ICELAND GULL, PAINTED BUNTING & BREWER’S BLACKBIRD and unseasonal occurrences of TRICOLORED HERON, LEAST BITTERN, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW! WEATHER: After an extremely frigid early January, temperatures return to more normal levels in mid-January, rising a drastic 18.2° from 32.2° F in early January to 50.4° (+0.6° from prior 10-year average), with average daily low temperatures also steeply increasing 16.4° from 15.4° to 31.8° F (-2.1° from prior 10-year average). Overall, temperatures....Click Here to Continue Reading!
The first reporting period of the new year proved to be one of, if not, the most exciting periods I’ve ever had the good pleasure to be a part of since beginning this journal back in 2014! Wholly dominated by the effects of a powerful coastal nor’easter (unofficially dubbed Winter Storm Grayson by outlets affiliated with The Weather Channel), this period was utterly jam packed with rarities, and an explosion of waterfowl also occurred as most inland bodies of water iced over completely and forced many species to the coast. Heavy snowfall impacted Virginia Beach from about 7 PM on Wednesday, 3 Jan through about 3 PM on Thursday, 4 Jan, leaving anywhere from 8-12 inches on the ground depending on the specific location within the city. Normally cryptic/secretive species were pushed out into the open as available foraging habitat became swiftly constricted by the snow cover. The plethora of incredible reports was topped by new records for COMMON MERGANSER, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, ICELAND GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, BREWER’S BLACKBIRD & LINCOLN’S SPARROW, continuing reports of CACKLING GOOSE, LECONTE’S SPARROW & BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE unseasonal occurrences of Blue-winged Teal, Least Bittern, Yellow-throated Warbler & Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and late reports for Cattle Egret! WEATHER: Average daily high....Click Here to Continue Reading!