"Protecting Wildlife Through Field Research, Education and Habitat Conservation For 25 Years"
Scenes from the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch and the Eastern Shore of Virginia where CVWO's team of three biologists are documenting the annual fall migration of raptors and Monarch butterflies.
Photo credits: Top, left to right: Bridgett Brunea and Karl Bardon, by Steve Thornhill; Ashley Hansen, Karl Bardon, and Bridgett Brunea, by Nancy Barnhart; Bridget Brunea and Karl Bardon, by Brian Taber. Bottom, left to right: Peregrine Falcon by Steve Thornhill; Ashley Hanson, by Nancy Barnhart; Cooper's Hawk, by Steve Thornhill.
Because of the pandemic, the education and interpretation efforts by CVWO's staff at Kiptopeke State Park this fall are different. To ensure the safety of our staff and visitors, we will limit group sizes on the hawkwatch platform and in our education programs. And of course we'll be abiding by all guidelines in effect at the Park.

Currently, at Kiptopeke State Park, face coverings are required in all park facilities and where social distancing is not possible. Stay up to date on the park's guidelines by checking their web site. Here's a special message from President Brian Taber about guidelines for the fall of 2020.
September 2020
A Word from the Prez!

CVWO is proud and humbled to receive the 2020 Jackson M. Abbott Conservation Award from the Virginia Society of Ornithology. VSO President Dan Bieker and Conservation Committee Chair Patti Reum wrote this in the announcement:

“In its 25 plus years of service, the CVWO staff and volunteers, working in partnership with biologists, researchers, organizations and citizen scientists, have studied, protected and conserved birds and other wildlife on the Coastal Plain of Virginia. To mention a few, these projects include songbird research on the Eastern Shore, raptor research at the Hawk watch site, Prothonotary Warbler population studies, banding Saw-whet owls, and Butterfly Counts."
"In 1973 the Virginia Society of Ornithology established a conservation award, later renamed the Abbott Award, to be given to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated outstanding conservation work in the state of Virginia. CVWO was nominated by the Williamsburg Bird Club, with letters of support from Harry Armistead, longtime volunteer, Forrest Gladden, manager of Kiptopeke State Park of the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Cheryl Jacobson, President of the Williamsburg Bird Club.”

The pandemic prevented the VSO from holding its Annual Meeting in the spring where this and other awards are presented. According to Patti and Dan, “we will present you with your Award certificate at our next publicly held event. Thank you for your service and accomplishments.”

Congratulations and thanks to the many Board members, volunteers, Advisors and seasonal staff who made all this work possible over the years.

2020 Kiptopeke Hawkwatch
Ashley Hansen, Karl Bardon, and Bridgett Brunea on the Hawkwatch Platform at Kiptopeke State Park. Photo by Nancy Barnhart
Ashley Hansen, Monarch Biologist. Photo by Nancy Barnhart.
Karl Bardon and Bridgett Brunea are on station at the Hawkwatch Platform at Kiptopeke State Park every day to document the 2020 raptor migration. Karl is CVWO’s official Hawkwatcher. Bridgett joins him on the platform as CVWO’s educator and hawkwatch intern. Every day is a wonder!

The number of migrating birds builds as September has progressed. September 15 Karl recorded 982 raptors! Osprey led the pack with 355 followed by American Kestrels at 423. Broad-winged Hawks were the only other species in triple digits with 123.
Peregrine Falcon, September 26. Photo by Steve Thornhill.
Broad-winged Hawk. Photo by Steve Thornhill.
September 26, Bridgett reports “today marked the first real wave of Peregrine Falcons we’ve seen since beginning our count September 1st. Until this point, the highest daily count we’ve had for Peregrines was 5, with most daily tallies being more like 0 – 2. Today, we totaled 32! While this is only the beginning, of course, we’re looking forward to seeing more Peregrines as they continue migrating south.”

In the category of “you’ll never know what will fly over,” Karl and Bridgett documented a juvenile Swainson’s Hawk moving rapidly south over the platform September 21!

Through September 26, Karl has recorded 5399 raptors and 16 species. But Karl is not just tallying raptors! He’s recording EVERY bird he sees. Here is his comment for September 14: “Good Osprey and kestrel flight. Non-raptor Observations: 4 Great Blue Herons, 2 Snowy Egrets, 8 White Ibis, 1 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Common Nighthawk, 9 Chimney Swifts, 32 Purple Martins, 1593 Tree Swallows, 35 Barn Swallows, 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 3 Black-and-white Warblers, 2 Northern Parulas, 1 Black-throated Green Warbler, 1 Blue Grosbeak.”

Monarch Biologist Ashley Hansen arrived September 15 to document the Monarch migration, which usually peaks in October. In addition to counting and tagging Monarchs, Ashley is keeping a list of all butterfly species observed as she makes her rounds. With her knowledge of pollinators she has also taken the initiative to keep track of the species of bees she encounters. During her point counts Ashley has had good opportunities to speak with visitors to the ESVNWR and Kiptopeke State Park.

There is no better time to visit the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch than NOW! Migration is picking up and October is traditionally a spectacular time to visit the Park and the Hawkwatch Platform.


You can see Kiptopeke's daily counts at Hawkcount.org.

You can also check in with the tally each day by logging into Dunkadoo where you'll see a colorful graphic like the one below showing the mix of raptors since the first day of the Hawkwatch.
And check out Bridgett’s CVWO Blog for highlights from the Hawkwatch.

Reminder: Visitors are always welcome and encouraged to follow the pandemic guidelines on the Kiptopeke State Park website.

We hope you’ll stop by for a visit. Please respect the “safe zone” for the hawkwatcher and observe the other social distancing signs on the platform
Mega-rarity! Black-whiskered Vireo at Kiptopeke State Park
Fall on the Eastern Shore often yields ornithological rarities bringing birders from around the state and region to add a life bird, state bird, a county bird or year bird to their lists. Remember last year’s Northern Wheatear’s arrival just in time for the Kiptopeke Challenge?

The most recent rarity was the Black-whiskered Vireo September 15 and 16 at Kiptopeke State Park, found by Matt Anthony as he watched a group of similarly marked Red-eyed Vireos foraging in hackberry trees. So what’s the field mark that caught Matt’s eye? Well…the black whisker, of course! Check your field guide for a good look at the bird’s dark malar stripe on the side of the throat and the bigger bill.
This bird rarely makes it as far as Virginia in any season. Indeed, this observation was only the second in Virginia’s history. The last recorded sighting was May 18, 1991 at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, per Virginia’s Birdlife: An Annotated Checklist, Fourth Edition, edited by Stephen C. Rottenborn and Edward S. Brinkley

Bridgett Brunea, CVWO’s Social Media guru this fall, recorded the excitement in CVWO’s Blog of September 17! Here’s the link to read all about it:

The two photos above were taken by Nancy Barnhart who was pleased to do the "life bird dance" after seeing this gem in the canopy.
2020 Kiptopeke Challenge
Harry Colestock, one half of the Road Runner Team. Photo by Rochelle Colestock, the other half of the team.
The September 26, 2020 Kiptopeke Challenge is in the rearview mirror! Numbers – both species totals and donations – are still coming to KC Coordinator Dave Youker. The October eNewsletter will have final results and winning teams in each category.

This one-day bird-a-thon Saturday, September 26, found nine teams in the field at various locations around the Coastal Plain of Virginia.

The Kiptopeke Challenge is CVWO’s single largest fundraiser each year! You can still donate to the Challenge. Teams collect donations from friends, relatives, sponsors and ALL donations go to CVWO.

Go to the Kiptopeke Challenge page on our web site and donate to one (or more teams). Many thanks.
Whimbrels photographed by the Beltway Brobolinks at Chincoteague.
Here at the 2020 KC Teams:
  • Solitary Vireo – Brian Taber
  • Laughing Falcons – Bob Ake, David Clark, Andrew Baldelli, Nick Flanders
  • Gulls Gone Wild – Shirley Devan, Nancy Barnhart, Jan Lockwood, Barbara Neis
  • Peninsula Parulidae – Dave Youker
  • Dragon Ladies – Maryanna Fisher, Peggy Combs
  • Hawkwatch Platformers – Karl Bardon, Bridgett Brunea
  • Beltway Brobolinks – Scott Stafford, Josh Stafford
  • Road Runners – Harry & Rochelle Colestock
  • Philadelphia Vireos – Harry Armistead, George Armistead

Stay tuned for the winners in the coming days on our Facebook page, Blog, and other social media – and next month's eNewsletter.

And thanks to the donors! We couldn't do it without you!
Scott and Josh Stafford, the Beltway Brobolinks team.
Spotted Sandpiper. Photo by Dave Youker, Team Peninsula Parulidae
VA Dept of Wildlife Resources Describes the New Seabird Colony on Fort Wool
A Good News Story!
Learn how the largest seabird colony in Virginia found new nesting grounds thanks to work by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and partners. The creation of a new nesting habitat on Fort Wool for the seabird colony displaced from their usual nesting location on the South Island of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel complex is a true conservation success story. DWR biologists Ruth Boettcher and Meagan Thomas tell how DWR and partners created a new nesting habitat for thousands of birds in just three months.

Common Tern and chick. Photo by Shirley Devan
Tune in to "Virtual Lunch and Learn" Series sponsored by Hawk Migration Association of North America
Bald Eagle by Steve Thornhill
Broad-winged Hawk by Steve Thornhill
The next event is October 15 at 12 noon when veteran hawkwatcher and photographer Josh Haas is LIVE at the Detroit River Hawk Watch to meet the counter and volunteers and see what’s flying!

Join us this time on Facebook LIVE. Visit the HMANA Facebook page HERE where you can also see previous "virtual lunch and learn videos."

Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) sponsors these online "lunch and learn" workshops. Join in monthly at 12 pm EDT!

Here are the topics for November through January.
  • November 18: Vic Berardi, "Winter Raptor Survey"
  • December 9: Laurie Goodrich, "Broad-winged Hawk Migration"
  • January 20, 2021: E. Viviana Vallejo, "Establishing a Migration Count in Colombia"
CVWO Tee Shirts with Prothonotary Warbler Artwork Now Available in our Cafe Press Online Store
Check out CVWO's Cafe Press store to see a variety of shirts and items with Anna Stunkel's eye-catching image of a Prothonotary Warbler, commissioned by CVWO. Thanks, Anna. A small portion of each sale comes back to support CVWO.
Mugs are available in 11 oz and 15 oz
Actual tee shirt worn by one of CVWO board members
1 liter water bottle
"Riding the Wind"
Riding the Wind is a book of essays by CVWO President Brian Taber about birds, birding, and conservation, several of which were previously published. Cover art by our hawkwatcher Anna Stunkel and 20 illustrations by award-winning artist Julie Zickefoose.

For a donation of $20.00 per book (plus $5.00 shipping & handling), email Nancy Barnhart and she will mail a copy out to you.

If you live in the Williamsburg area, you can save shipping and handling by visiting Backyard Birder at 1490 Quarterpath Road, or Wild Birds Unlimited, 4625 Casey Blvd, Suite 300.

You can also get a copy from Buteo books.
Shopping online more these days? You can support CVWO just by shopping at AmazonSmile.
It's same Amazon you know and love. Start at www.smile.amazon.com. Log in as you always do and then look for Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory in their list of charities. Amazon donates a small portion of your purchases to CVWO! Easy as that! And thanks!
CVWO Has A New Website!
Visit and Share CVWO's New Website!

You'll find information on raptor, butterfly, songbird and waterbird research as well as beautiful photos and rich stories from the field!

And don't forget to support our nonprofit work with your tax-deductible donation!
CVWO's Blog Is Hopping!
Bridgett Brunea will be a frequent contributor to CVWO's Blog as she reports from the Hawkwatch Platform at Kiptopeke State Park during fall migration. Welcome, Bridgett!