RESULTS AS OF JUNE 2018 – OBSERVED: 67, POSSIBLE: 22, PROBABLE: 25, CONFIRMED: 34, TOTAL: 81
Midland NW Breeding Block – Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (2016-2020)
(known as Midland Block 1 during the Virginia Breeding Atlas 1 (1985-1989)
As of June 2018, there are 34 confirmed breeding bird species in Midland NW. This marks an increase from the first breeding bird atlas as only 22 were reported to be breeding from 1985-1989.
Four species were identified during the first atlas that have not yet been observed breeding during the second atlas:
American Kestrel, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher and Great-Crested Flycatcher. Of these, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Great-Crested Flycatcher are present and very active in the block. However, they possibly are breeding in the woods located on private property along Germantown Lake.
Of concern, American Kestrel has rarely been observed in the block and has not been observed for the atlas. Moreover, Acadian Flycatchers have not been observed in this block.
Priority database species have been observed in this block during prime breeding season though no breeding confirmations have yet been made: Dickcissel, Swamp Sparrow, and Spotted Sandpiper. Of interest, June 2018 is when the first Dickcissel was observed in this block!
Other priority database species have been observed stopping over in this block during migration season: Hooded Mergansers, Vesper Sparrow, Bobolinks, Common Ravens, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Nashville Warbler.
Midland NW Breeding Block is located in a rural area that is mainly agricultural. There are two eBird Birding hotspots in this block. Busy Route 28 cuts through this block and the noise from vehicles and planes makes it difficult to bird along the roads in this block (there are few places to pull over as most of the land is in private hands).
Midland is a scenic area, however, it is quite noisy often with constant plane and vehicle noise. Other sources of noise are farm equipment and lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Often biosolids are sprayed on the fields and the smell can be quite bad. Agricultural runoff can be detected in waterways.
The first eBird hotspot, C.M. Crockett Park, is located primarily in this block (note: most of the parks woodland trails fall under Catlett SW, which is reported on separately).
The park has a big man-made lake, grasslands, small woods, developed picnic area with lawn and trees, and a paved parking area with trees popular with many birds.
C.M. Crockett Park has a large grasslands area, which is a dam with a flood plain. Grassland birds are most probably negatively impacted by the mowing and bush-hogging done in the middle of the breeding season because of the dam.
This matter was brought up with the park. Park management replied that they are required to cut the field and slopes by Virginia law because of the dam. This will negatively impact a number of species this breeding season. The cutting of the fields and slopes has probably adversely impacted grassland birds for years!
This month, I observed a pair of Blue Grosbeaks nesting on a slope and I have seen fledgling Eastern Meadowlarks in the field. Red-winged Blackbirds probably already have a nest in the field also. There is at least one pair present. There are also Common Yellowthroats and Indigo Buntings probably breeding in the area. At least 10 Grasshopper Sparrows are in the grasses of the slopes. They probably have nests already too. A Dickcissel was observed at the park and could potentially breed in the grasslands.
Grassland birds have very limited undisturbed fields to use for breeding in this block. Eastern Meadowlarks are in notable decline in the Piedmont. Northern Bobwhite are absent from the park. Could policies be amended to promote bird conservation at the park? C.M. Crockett Park could provide a haven for grassland birds if mowing and bush-hogging were to be scheduled before and after breeding season.
The second eBird hotspot is John Marshall’s Birthplace (another birding hotspot). This is a short dirt trail through the trees between a creek next to a large cattle farm and on the other side is an agricultural field. It is noisy as the train runs north and south very close by. Also a cement factory site is near.
This block also contains most of Midland, VA, including the main area of the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport. The woods at the entrance to the airport have hosted Ovenbirds, Eastern Towees and other species. However, a development project that started during the second atlas has resulted in the loss of part of this woodland habitat. This will likely negatively impact Ovenbirds.