Journal Entry Index - 201720162015 - 2014

Early October 2017 (1st-10th)

The continuance of southerly winds throughout the early October period meant things were very quiet on the birding front, which is atypical for this time of year. Top birds during early October in Virginia Beach included just a single CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (3 Oct / Shipps Cabin Rd. / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate). Early first-of-fall arrivals this period included a Nelson’s Sparrow (8 Oct / Pleasure House Point NA / ph. Lisa Rose & Robert Wood) and Swamp Sparrow (7 Oct / Back Bay NWR / obs. Rob Bielawski). In addition to the early arrivals, first-of-fall arrivals within expected dates were logged during this period for American Wigeon & Northern Pintail (7 Oct / Little Island Park / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate) and Ruddy Duck (8 Oct / Back Bay NWR / obs. Cindy Hamilton & June McDaniels). Late flags were set off in eBird for a Yellow Warbler (8 Oct / Back Bay NWR / obs. Rob Bielawski), as well as a flock of 9 Glossy Ibis and a pair of Bobolink (7 Oct / Little Island Park / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate), a Least Bittern (8 Oct / Back Bay NWR / ph. Cindy Hamilton & June McDaniels) and a Veery (8 Oct / Marshview Park / obs. Andrew Baldelli). Average daily high temperatures this period dropped 0.1° from 79.2° F in late September to 79.1° (+3.3° from prior 10-year average), with average daily low temperatures dropping a bit more, falling 3.6° from 65.3° to 61.7° F (+2.0° from prior 10-year average). Overall, temperatures ranged from a minimum of 50° F (3 Oct) to a maximum of 86° (8 Oct). Precipitation this period amounted to 0.48”, spread across only a single day with measurable amounts (10 Oct). Maximum sustained winds at Oceana this period were 18 mph and gusts reached 28 mph (9 Oct). Sunrise/sunsets varied from 6:59 AM/6:47 PM (1 Oct) to 7:07 AM/6:34 PM (10 Oct), which means over all we lost 21 minutes of daylight during this period. Preliminary tide levels (referenced to MLLW) at the Sewell’s Point gauge (NOAA) in Norfolk (very sadly, with the closing of the South Thimble Island for 5 years of construction, which began on 1 Oct, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel gauge was apparently taken out of service) varied from a minimum of -0.292 (3:48 AM, 6 Oct) to a maximum of 3.642 (6:54 PM, 1 Oct). To view all of my photographs from this period, click Here!

Late September 2017 (21st-30th)

Top birds during late September in Virginia Beach included MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (28 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Mary Catherine Miguez), AMERICAN AVOCET and AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (23 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate), a PARASITIC JAEGER (29 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Christine & Scott Peters), a RUFOUS/ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD (28 Sep / Lago Mar / obs. Mary Catherine Miguez), a PAINTED BUNTING (23 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Michael Mayer), what may be a continuing (or a newly arrived) PHILADELPHIA VIREO (21 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty, obs. Tommy Maloney & Jason Schatti), a CANADA WARBLER (21 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty), a SALTMARSH SPARROW (28 Sep / Pleasure House Point NA / ph. Kathy Louthan & obs. Karen & Tom Beatty), a couple of new occurrences for CLAY-COLORED SPARROW (21 Sep / South Thimble Island / ph. Nancy Barnhart and 22 Sep / Little Island Park / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate) and at least one of the Back Bay NWR CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS (8-21 Sep / obs. Andrew Baldelli) continued into late September, and lastly, a possible WESTERN TANAGER (30 Sep / Lago Mar / ph. Mary Catherine Miguez). Birders continued to observe early occurrences for Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warbler, and early first-of-fall arrivals this period included a Blue-headed Vireo (21 Sep / Little Island Park / obs. Mary Catherine Miguez) and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (21 Sep / Lake Smith / obs. Tracy Tate). In addition to the early arrivals, first-of-fall arrivals within expected dates were logged during this period for Sora (21 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Rob Bielawski & Mary Catherine Miguez), Blackpoll Warbler (21 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty), Swainson’s Thrush (23 Sep / Red Wing Park / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty), Brown Creeper (29 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Mary Catherine Miguez & Rob Bielawski), Orange-crowned Warbler (29 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Mary Catherine Miguez). Late flags were set off in eBird for a Blue-winged Warbler (21 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty) which stayed a day past the species typical 20 Sep departure date, as well as a Summer Tanager (23 Sep / Camp Pendleton SMR / ph. Karen & Tom Beatty) and Purple Martin (23 Sep / Princess Anne WMA Beasley Tract / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate). Average daily high temperatures this period dropped 0.4° from 79.6° F in mid-September to 79.2° (+0.6° from prior 10-year average), with average daily low temperatures following suit, falling 3.4° from 68.7° to 65.3° F (+0.3° from prior 10-year average). Overall, temperatures ranged from a minimum of 55° F (30 Sep) to a maximum of 84° (21/22/24/28 Sep). Precipitation this period amounted to 0.42”, spread across only a single day with measurable amounts (26 Sep). Maximum sustained winds at Oceana this period were 26 mph (27 Sep) and gusts reached 37 mph (26 Sep) associated with the offshore passage of Hurricane Maria. Sunrise/sunsets varied from 6:51 AM/7:02 PM (21 Sep) to 6:58 AM/6:48 PM (30 Sep), which means over all we lost 21 minutes of daylight during this period. Preliminary tide levels (referenced to MLLW) at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel gauge (NOAA) varied from a minimum of 0.893 (7:48 AM, 22 Sep) to a maximum of 4.735 (12:54 AM, 21 Sep). To view all of my photographs from this period, click Here!

Mid-September 2017 (11th-20th)

Top birds during mid-September in Virginia Beach included a first-for-the-year PHILADELPHIA VIREO (13 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Mike Collins), a single ANHINGA (13 Sep / Lake Smith / obs. Tracy Tate), what is potentially a second (or perhaps a continuing) LEAST FLYCATCHER (16 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Tommy Maloney and Brandon Holland), individual MARBLED GODWIT (18 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Andrew Baldelli & Jason Strickland) & WILSON’S PHALAROPE (18 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Jason Strickland) as well as the continuing CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS (8-18 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Andrew Baldelli) which reached a high count of 4 (15 Sep / ph. Mary Catherine Miguez) during the period & also the continuing pair of LARK SPARROWS (8-14 Sep / Back Bay NWR / Andrew Baldelli). Additionally, due to the strong winds buffeting Virginia Beach 17-19 Sep as Hurricane Jose passed northward off our coastline, PARASITIC JAEGERS were observed at several locations (17 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Christine & Scott Peters, 18 Sep / Little Island Park / obs. Andrew Baldelli, 18 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty, 19 Sep / JEB Fort Story / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty, 19 Sep / South Thimble Island / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate and ph. Lisa Rose & Jason Strickland) and an even less expected POMARINE JAEGER (19 Sep / South Thimble Island / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Tracy Tate) was also found! Birders also enjoyed an early first-of-fall arrival for Ruby-crowned Kinglet (20 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Mary Catherine Miguez) as well as first-of-fall arrivals within expected dates for Rose-breasted Grosbeak (13 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Mike Collins), Northern Shoveler (14 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Andrew Baldelli), Red-breasted Nuthatch (15 Sep / Great Neck Park / obs. David Clark) and Savannah Sparrow (20 Sep / Pleasure House Point NA / obs. Matt Hafner). A lingering Mississippi Kite (16 Sep / NAS Oceana / obs. Jeffrey Blalock) was also reported slightly after that species’ typical 10 Sep departure, marking our first “late” species report for the fall season. Overall, temperatures ranged from a minimum of 64° F (11 Sep) to a maximum of 86° (13/20 Sep), while the average daily high temperatures this period unexpectedly rose 1.3° from 78.3° F in early September to 79.6° (+0.1° from prior 10-year average). Average daily low temperatures also rose, though an extreme 7.5° from 61.2° to 68.7° F (+4.3° from prior 10-year average). Precipitation this period totaled 0.54” (spread across 2 days with measurable rainfall), with a daily maximum of 0.34” occurring 14 Sep. Maximum sustained winds recorded at Oceana NAS this period were 28 mph and gusts reached 40 mph (19 Sep) as Hurricane Jose (category 1 at the time) passed northeasterly off the coast. Preliminary tide levels (referenced to MLLW) at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel gauge (NOAA) varied from a minimum of 0.673 (6:24 AM, 11 Sep) to a maximum of 5.45 (8:00 AM, 19 Sep) which also happened to be the highest recording in 2017 at the station thus far! Sunrise/sunsets varied from 6:43 AM/7:17 PM (1 Sep) to 6:50 AM/7:03 PM (10 Sep), which means over all we lost 21 minutes of daylight during this period. To view all of my photographs from this period, click Here!

Early September 2017 (1st-10th)

To view gallery of images from this period, please click this photograph.

To view gallery of images from this period, please click this photograph.

Top birds during early September in Virginia Beach included what is likely to be a third ROSEATE SPOONBILL (3-5 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Timothy Burnett) for the year, a first eBird record for LEAST FLYCATCHER (2-10 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Tommy Maloney & Jason Schatti), as well as a first for the year BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER (4 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Andrew Baldelli) and TENNESSEE WARBLER (6 Sep / Camp Pendleton SMR / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty), up to 3 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS (8-10 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Andrew Baldelli), and 2 LARK SPARROWS (8-10 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Andrew Baldelli)! Birders also enjoyed early first-of-fall arrivals for Sharp-shinned Hawk (1 Sep / Lago Mar / obs. Mary Catherine Miguez) and Yellow-rumped Warbler (8 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Pamela Monahan) as well as first-of-fall arrivals within expected dates for Magnolia Warbler (1 Sep / West Neck Creek NA / ph. Mary Catherine Miguez and obs. Karen & Tom Beatty), Worm-eating Warbler (1 Sep / First Landing SP / obs. Tommy Maloney & Jason Schatti), Broad-winged Hawk (3 Sep / West Neck Creek NA / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty & Mary Catherine Miguez), Black-throated Blue Warbler (3 Sep / West Neck Creek NA / ph. Andrew Baldelli / Rob Bielawski / Mary Catherine Miguez / Tracy Tate) , Bay-breasted Warbler (3 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. June McDaniels), Hooded Warbler (4 Sep / Back Bay NWR, obs. Mike Collins & Robert Wood), Wilson’s Warbler (4 Sep / Back Bay NWR, obs. Mike Collins & ph. Robert Wood and West Neck Creek NA / ph. Andrew Baldelli & Rob Bielawski), Chestnut-sided Warbler (4 Sep / Back Bay NWR, obs. Mike Collins & Robert Wood and West Neck Creek NA / ph. Andrew Baldelli & Rob Bielawski), Green-winged Teal (4 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Mary Catherine Miguez) & Veery (4 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Andrew Baldelli & Mary Catherine Miguez), Nashville Warbler (5 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Karen & Tom Beatty), American Bittern (6 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Tommy Maloney) and Cape May Warbler (9 Sep / Back Bay NWR / ph. Andrew Baldelli / Timothy Barry / Rob Bielawski / Lisa Rose) & Palm Warbler (9 Sep / Back Bay NWR / obs. Timothy Barry). Average daily high temperatures this period dropped 4.6° from 82.9° F in late August to 78.3° F (-6.2° from prior 10-year average), with average daily low temperatures following suit, falling an extreme 7.9° from 69.1° F to 61.2° F (-7.8° from prior 10-year average). Overall, temperatures ranged from a minimum of 55° F (8/9 Sep) to a maximum of 88° F (5 Sep). Precipitation this period amounted to 1.84”, spread across 5 days with measurable amounts, with a daily maximum of 0.82” (2 Sep). Maximum sustained winds at Oceana this period were 22 mph and gusts reached 34 mph (6 Sep). Sunrise/sunsets varied from 6:35 AM/7:32 PM (1 Sep) to 6:42 AM/7:18 PM (10 Sep), which means over all we lost 21 minutes of daylight during this period. Preliminary tide levels (referenced to MLLW) at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel gauge (NOAA) varied from a minimum of -0.006 (3:06 AM, 6 Sep) to a maximum of 3.931 (5:36 PM, 1 Sep). To view all of my photographs from this period, click Here!

Late August 2017 (21st-31st)

Temperatures dropped considerably in late August from those in mid-August, and the region was treated to its first batch of severe weather in quite some time as “potential tropical cyclone ten” impacted the coastline on 29 Aug, dumping several inches of rain and providing strong onshore winds and gusts in excess of 50 mph. Top birds during the late August period in Virginia Beach included the first ROSEATE SPOONBILLS to be present in the city’s boundaries since 1996! Another new rarity for the period was the occurrence of a single MARBLED GODWIT at Pleasure House Point that provided for several reports from 22-26 Aug. Mixed in with a swarm of migrating passerines, a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was also found at First Landing SP on 31 Aug! As with mid-August, the WOOD STORK first noted 8 Aug continued to be observed at least through 26 Aug, and birders also enjoyed an early first-of-fall arrival for Gadwall, Merlin Bay-breasted Warbler (25 Aug) as well as first-of-fall arrivals within expected dates for Blue-winged Teal Bobolink (25 Aug), Black-and-white Warbler (29 Aug), Yellow-throated Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler Baltimore Oriole (31 Aug). WEATHER: For starters, Virginia Beach was treated to a solar eclipse that reached 87% coverage around 2:47 PM on 21 Aug. Even with this level of coverage, we didn’t experience much change in the lighting...Click Here to Continue Reading!

While mid-August began with comfortable temperatures, the mercury spiked upwards towards the end of the period and heat indices rose over 100 degrees F for what is hopefully the last time in 2017. Top birds during this period in Virginia Beach included the continuing WOOD STORK (which was present every day of the period), an early first-of-fall arrival for Northern Harrier (11 Aug) as well as first-of-fall arrivals within expected dates for Yellow Warbler (13 Aug), Northern Waterthrush & Peregrine Falcon (15 Aug), Dunlin (16 Aug) & Common Nighthawk (18 Aug). WEATHER: Due primarily to the heat wave over the latter half of the period, mid-August’s average daily high temperatures managed to rise over those in early August (and amazingly, over late July’s as well), reaching 85.3 degrees F (+2.5 degrees from early August); average daytime lows unfortunately followed suit, rising to 72.6 degrees F (+4.1 degrees). The previous 10-year average daily highs & lows for the mid-August period were 86.4 & 71.1 degrees F, respectively which puts this period in 2017 at -1.1 and +1.5 degrees when comparing to the previous 10-year average. During that time frame, the maximum average daily highs & lows were a scorching 96.9 & 81.0 degrees F (2017) thanks to an incredible three days reaching 100 degrees F! We had 6 days with measurable precipitation during this period, which amounted to a total of 3.72 inches, with...Click Here to Continue Reading!

With July coming to a close, the summer birding season also reached its ending. August is generally regarded as the beginning of fall birding, though many species (shorebirds in particular) begin their actual fall migration during early July. With the highest temperatures now behind us here on the coast, birders were able to spend more time out and about, with some great birds being found thanks to the increase in coverage. Top birds during this period in Virginia Beach included WOOD STORK, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO AMERICAN AVOCET, early first-of-fall arrivals of Gadwall (1 Aug), White-rumped Sandpiper (3 Aug) Wilson’s Snipe (4 Aug) as well as on-time first-of-fall arrivals for American Redstart (5 Aug) & Scarlet Tanager (10 Aug). WEATHER: Overall, early August’s average daily high temperatures were able to drop from those in late July due to a couple of cold fronts in the latter half of the period, reaching 82.8 degrees F (-2.2 degrees from late July); average daytime lows dropped as well, to 68.5 degrees F (-0.9 degrees). The previous 10-year average daily highs & lows for the early August period were 87.4 & 72.6 degrees F, respectively which puts this period in 2017 at -4.6 and -4.1 degrees when comparing to the previous 10-year average. During that time frame, the maximum average daily highs & lows were 92.6 (2007) & 78.5 degrees F (2016). We had only 2 days with....Click Here to Continue Reading!

The extreme temperatures of mid-July continued through the first half of this period, but fortunately, cooler weather found its way into the region during the latter half, providing some much needed relief to coastal birders! Shorebirds continued to be the primary focus for most eBirders, with increasing counts of most species continuing since early July, and the number of immature birds passing through continues to rise as well. Top birds during this period in Virginia Beach included a continuing WHITE-EYED EASTERN TOWHEE, an unseasonal occurrence of Peregrine Falcon, and first-of-season arrivals which included our first-of-fall Piping Plover (24 Jul) & Black Tern (26 Jul). WEATHER: Overall, late July’s average daily high temperatures were able to drop from those in mid-July due to a couple of cold fronts in the latter half of the period, reaching 85.0 degrees F (-4.7 degrees from mid-July); average daytime lows dropped as well, to 69.4 degrees F (-4.1 degrees). The previous 10-year average daily highs & lows for the mid-July period were 89.0 & 72.6 degrees F, respectively which puts this period in 2017 at -4.0 and -3.2 degrees when comparing to the previous 10-year average. During that time frame, the maximum average daily highs & lows were 97.1 & 80.6 degrees F (both occurring in 2016). We had 5 days with measureable precipitation which amounted to a total of 1.96 inches, though most of which...Click Here to Continue Reading!

Oppressive heat permeated the region during mid-July, yielding the hottest period thus far in 2017. Shorebirds arrivals continued more or less on time, and some other notable birds were found despite the heat! Top birds during this period in Virginia Beach included the continuing WHITE-EYED EASTERN TOWHEE, a newly found DICKCISSEL, and an unseasonal occurrence of Black-and-white Warbler! Additionally, mid-July continued the trend started last period with first-of-season arrivals pouring through, including our first-of-fall Stilt Sandpiper & Pied-billed Grebe (11 Jul), Pectoral Sandpiper (14 Jul), Black-and-white Warbler, Solitary Sandpiper & Western Sandpiper (15 Jul), Whimbrel (16 Jul) and Red Knot (17 Jul). WEATHER: Overall, mid-July’s average daily high temperatures continued to rise from those in early July, reaching 89.7 degrees F (+1.1 degrees); in contrast, average daytime lows actually dropped slightly, to 73.5 degrees F (-0.2 degrees). The previous 10-year average daily highs & lows for the mid-July period were 88.2 & 72.2 degrees F, respectively which puts this period in 2017 at +1.5 and +1.3 degrees when comparing to the previous 10-year average. During that time frame, the maximum average daily highs & lows were 94.1 & 76.8 degrees F (both occurring in 2016). We had 4 days with measureable precipitation which amounted to a total of 1.84 inches, most falling overnight...Click Here to Continue Reading!

Hot & humid summer weather dominated throughout early July and Shorebirds started arriving in Virginia along their southbound migrations. Top birds during this period in Virginia Beach included the continuing FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER, fresh observations for SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, ANHINGA & ROSEATE TERN and the probable continuance of a WHITE-EYED EASTERN TOWHEE! In addition to these rarities, first-of-season arrivals this period included our first-of-fall Black-bellied Plover (6 Jul), Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper & Short-billed Dowitcher (7 Jul).  WEATHER: Overall, early July’s average daily high temperatures continued the typical of trend of surpassing late June’s, rising to 88.6 degrees F (+3.6 degrees); average daytime lows also rose to 73.7 degrees F (+5.4 degrees). The previous 10-year average daily highs & lows for the early July period were 87.9 & 71.7 degrees F, respectively which puts this period in 2017 at +0.7 and +2.0 degrees when comparing to the 10-year averages. During the previous 10-year period, the maximum average daily highs & lows were 93.6 (2012) & 76.6 degrees F (2016). We had 6 days with measureable precipitation which amounted to a total of 1.66 inches, most falling on 8 July (a Saturday) with 0.82 inches accumulating...Click Here to Continue Reading!

Blog Entry Index - 201720162015 - 2014