A Look Back at the 2019 Field Season

By Ashley Peele January 16, 2020
Staunton River Rally Crew

As we look ahead to the fifth and final field season of Virginia’s second breeding bird atlas, lets first look back at some highlights from the 2019 field season.  If you clink on the image, you will be able to view and download our 2019 field summary report.  This document reviews key species highlights, survey coverage, and volunteer accomplishments.  Additionally, the final section delves briefly into both the species and regional target areas for the final 2020 field season.

This report provides a preview of the updated maps and volunteer materials that we will be pushing out, as we head into spring.

A Note from the State Coordinator:

I often hesitate to put out specific acknowledgements and thank you, because frankly it would take up far too much room to list off the hundreds of volunteers that have made valuable contributions to this project.  However, as we head into the last year for data collection, I have to mention some key folks who made 2019 such a successful field season.

First, the regional coordinators continue to be driving forces for the VABBA2 across the state.  Some coordinators have been staunch, hardworking advocates from day one, others have jumped in throughout the project as they saw needs in their local areas.  ALL have freely given their time, energy, and expertise, so a huge thank you to rockin’ RCs!

Second, a number of folks really jumped on board with Atlas blockbusting in 2019.  To name one, Kurt Gaskill (RC- region 2) launched his own travel blockbusting program, which targeted high-value priority blocks in southside, the northern neck, and the Allegheny regions.  Recruiting help from other NoVA birders, he traveled to and knocked out many priority blocks over the course of multiple trips to each area!  He helped encourage other avid birders to direct their summer travels towards Atlas areas in need, so thanks to Kurt for leading this charge!

Third, a number of volunteers attended our Atlas Summer rallies, including a handful who returned for multiple events!  From group leaders to participants, all helped make a big impact on block coverage in each of the areas visited.  We wanted to acknowledge volunteers who came out for multiple events – Guy and Susan Babineau, Mike Schultz, Carlton Noll (the nightjar finder!), Lewis Barnett, Daphne & Jerry Cole – and to thank all the folks who traveled away from home to rural corners of VA to help us dramatically improve our coverage of open habitats in the southern half of the state.

Lastly, many, many volunteers continue to bird away to complete the priority blocks (PBs) and survey high-quality habitats within their home regions.  Four years is a long time and I can’t adequately express just how much I appreciate all of the folks who have continued to contribute their breeding bird observations over the course of this entire project.

I’ve met many, if not most, of our hundreds of our VABBA2 volunteers personally.  Every time I get a chance to bird and/or chat with one of you, I’m struck by your passion for both birding and bird conservation.  You make it fun and all the more rewarding.

If you’re a volunteer that I haven’t met yet, then please register and come out to our final field season KICKOFF MEETING!  It will be a great chance for you to meet other Atlas volunteers, coordinators, and get charged up for our final field season. This event will be held at VDGIF headquarters on March 14th from 10am-5pm.  And guess what? Our guest speaker hails from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is eBird’s BBA guru.  Stay tuned for more details on our guest speaker next week!

~Dr. Ashley Peele, VABBA2 State Coordinator

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