Time: 2:45 – 4:00pm – 4/16/2018
Location: Flood Wall, Hull St. Richmond, VA
Weather: 60°F – windy, partly cloudy
Species Observed but Not Recorded: Red-winged Blackbird (O: Passeriformes, F: Icteridae), Canada Geese (O: Anseriformes), Rock Pigeon (O: Columbiformes), American Crow (O: Passeriformes, F: Corvidae), Common Grackle (O: Passeriformes, F: Icteridae), Turkey Vulture (O: Accipitriformes).
I decided to visit the Flood Walk this time for my blog post and was a little let down by high winds not allowing many song birds to be out, but instead saw many large and charismatic birds at the river. I saw many of some of my favorites as well: Ospreys.
Northern Mockingbird (O: Passeriformes, F: Mimidae): I initially heard this individual before I saw it, but I kept hearing the varying 5-repeat calls of different birds, echoed from the same place over and over. I searched quickly and noticed this Mockingbird sitting in a young tree, singing its heart out. It was distinctive with its straight tail, dull grayish coloration, and the call/song I was describing before.
Osprey (O: Accipitriformes): I saw many Ospreys on this trip (8 – 10 total), and observed many various habits. Ospreys are a large raptor with diagnostic brown and white colorations. Brown usually coats their back and wings while they have white underbellies and white markings on their face. Their legs are typically blue/grey and they can be found near waterways, as this is their primary food source.
I observed high soaring, most likely to get up above the harsher winds found above the water.
This individual kept swooping low to make attempted predations, but never actually pulled the trigger on any dives. As it dove down, it would quickly catch wind it its wings right before it hit the water to stall out and gain more altitude.
The last individual was seen soaring low as well, and vocalizing loudly above me. I then saw it dive and make a predation attempt, and was actually successful. These photos were taken right before the dive was made, and right after the dive, the Osprey was seen carrying the fish “torpedo-style” to go devour at it’s nest most likely.
Black Vulture (O: Accipitriformes): I saw many Black Vultures, as we usually do outside, but I did not feel that anything they were doing was out of the ordinary. But then I saw this one sitting by itself on a rock, which I thought was odd, since it was not above the water kettling with all of the other vultures. I observed the black head of this bird and determined it was a Black Vulture.
Great Blue Heron (O: Pelecaniformes): I saw 5 total Great Blue Herons on the walk, and the first that I saw were these three standing together on an island in the middle of the river. The birds are a characteristic blue-grey color and have long feathers that are characteristic of powder-down. They have long necks and long legs and can be seen wading in shallow water hunting their favorite prey. These three birds could have possibly been watching over nests in the rookery.
Here is another individual looking for a meal by itself in a different section of the river.
Lastly, on my way out, I saw one last GBH flying over me. It was easy to identify due to its long trailing legs and its curled neck in flight.
Double Crested Cormorant (O: Pelecaniformes): The most populated bird at the river this day was the Double Crested Cormorant. These birds are seen flying with their long necks straight out and flapping their wings similarly to a duck. They are dark black and actually their beak is quite colorful in orange and blue around and inside the mouth. They are great divers and can be seen underwater for over a minute or so. This first individual pictured was having a good time surfing the rapids and diving down attempting to get some food. I did not see this bird get any food, but I saw one later get a fish and swallow it whole.
Here is a large colony of Cormorants huddling together. Again, you can see the long necks and dark bodies. These birds do not float as well as ducks so they will appear half way out of the water while swimming/floating.
Mallard Duck (O: Anseriformes): The last bird that I saw on my way out, besides Common Grackles, was this male Mallard. I observed him off to the side of the river where the water was much calmer, and I watched him dabbling over and over trying to forage in front of me. He was easy to identify by his bright green head/yellow bill, drab body, and blue/purple bar on the wing.