The results for the first Nelson County Rarity Roundup are in! On October 6, 23 birders from all over Virginia birded in Nelson County, in search of low density fall migrants and to help create eBird data during an interesting time of year in a relatively poorly birded area. The county was divided into 18 randomly drawn territories. Twelve territories received some birding effort, although only six were birded thoroughly for most of the day. Together, all the teams had 113 species, 23 of which were seen by only one team. The rarest bird of the day was a Connecticut warbler found by Drew Chaney and Baxter Beamer at the Three Ridges Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Rockfish Valley Trail was productive as usual, with bobolink, two Lincoln’s sparrows, and the county’s fourth record of marsh wren being the highlights. Three of the four previous marsh wren records from Nelson have been in the first two weeks of October, the fourth was in the last week of April. The marsh wren apparently stuck around for at least one day, as Theo and I saw and photographed one at Rockfish Valley Trail on Monday. Elsewhere in the county, highlights included two other Lincoln’s sparrows — one at James River State WMA and one at Democracy Vineyards — as well as a Trail’s flycatcher at the Piney River Railway Trail and abundant gray-cheeked thrushes (8 between all teams). Birds flagged by eBird as late included two yellow-throated vireos, four blue-gray gnatcatchers, two worm-eating warblers, one veery, and one prairie warbler. Between all the teams, we counted 3,594 birds. The most numerically abundant species was cedar waxwing (289), followed closely by blue jay (252) and then by northern cardinal (205). The most numerous sparrow was chipping (92), and the most numerous warbler was common yellowthroat (58).
Between all the teams, we saw eleven out of the twelve unflagged sparrow species, missing only vesper. We saw 21 warbler species, with the only unflagged species we missed being Wilson’s. We also got all the unflagged raptor species, eleven, including the three falcons. Notable misses included least flycatcher, Philadelphia vireo, fish crow, northern-rough-winged swallow, brown creeper, hermit thrush, purple finch, and summer tanager. Here’s the link to the map of territories, and here’s a spreadsheet with the results. Thanks again to everyone who participated, and I look forward to next year!