Week Ending May 1, 2016

With last week’s steep rise in temperatures, it was not surprising that we saw a bit of a drop with average daily high temperatures of 73.4 degrees F (a 4.3 degree drop) this week; additionally the average daytime lows rose slightly to 56.1 degrees F (a 2.8 degree increase). With decreasing highs and increasing lows, this week was a bit more consistent than last week, though the overall range was 46 degrees F to 89 degrees F from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon, which was quite an incredible transition. Rainfall was scattered on four of the seven days throughout the week, but only amounted to an overall total of 0.72 inches. Conditions were favorable for songbird movements during the midweek and by Friday a number of species began moving through as a result. The average daily maximum sustained windspeed was 16 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 23 mph occurring on Tuesday. Despite the winds though, Virginia Beach saw several first-of-season (FOS) arrivals this week, which included: Veery (25 Apr / Mary Catherine Miguez / West Neck Creek Natural Area) & photographed again (26 Apr / Karen & Tom Beatty), staying at this site through at least 27 Apr; Blue Grosbeak (25 Apr / Robert Ake / Back Bay NWR Colechester Parcel); Blue-winged Warbler, a rare transient through our area (26 Apr / Tracy Tate / White House Lane); Black-throated Blue Warbler (26 Apr / David Clark / Munden Point Park); Rose-breasted Grosbeak (30 Apr / Kristin Swanbeck / Cypress Point Golf Course) via Facebook; Mississippi Kite (30 Apr / Tracy Tate / Thoroughgood), which have nested in the neighborhood the past two summers, and arrived a few days earlier this year; Yellow-breasted Chat (30 Apr / James Marcum / Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area Whitehurst Tract).

In addition to the list of First-of-season arrivals, other noteworthy observations including Piping Plover and Whimbrel continue to be seen along the beach at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (25 Apr / Robert Ake) and a single Sora was also picked up there this week as well (25 Apr / Rebecca Walawender). Summer Tanagers were observed at both Stumpy Lake & West Neck Creek Natural Areas. Waterfowl continue to become more scarce across the county, with Blue-winged & Green-winged Teal some of the only non-summering species remaining at places like Back Bay and Whitehurst Tract. One very interesting checklist (29 Apr / Ellison Orcutt / Rudee Inlet) with observations of Clapper Rail, Marsh Wren, Saltmarsh Sparrow and Seaside Sparrow, seemingly out of place in the armored shoreline habitat of the inlet provided some very nice photographs. I swung by Rudee on Sunday morning during a light drizzle and was excited to still catch a couple of Seaside Sparrows, which can be tough to find in Virginia Beach, with Pleasure House Point Natural Area the typical location they’re observed, as well as at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. While spring is usually dominated by the songbird migration as far as birders are concerned, shorebird variety increased this week also, with several Solitary Sandpiper reports showing up, as well as peeps (Least & Semipalmated Sandpipers). The only true rarity this week though was a Lincoln’s Sparrow (30 Apr / James Marcum / Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area Whitehurst Tract), which is being evaluated still in eBird, but would be the first of its species to be observed in Virginia Beach since October when one was documented out on South Thimble Island of the CBBT complex (Arun Bose & Ellison Orcutt). If this report does go through, it’ll be added to the Noteworthy Observations list under the Distribution section of the website. Some lingering winter resident species were picked up this week as well, with Ruby-crowned Kinglets (30 Apr / Richard Korpi & Phil Lehman / Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge), and Hooded Merganser (29 Apr / Ellison Orcutt & Arun Bose / Pleasure House Point Natural Area) being observed. 

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