The guest speaker for the October member’s meeting was Andy Hawkins. Andy is a retired science teacher and is currently on the board of directors for the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory and the Hampton Roads Bird Club. Andy spent several hours this spring and summer observing birds at our chapter’s park with chapter member Ken Dugan. Andy discussed the birds that have been sighted in the Suffolk area and specifically those that he and Ken sighted at the park.
A list of approximately 150 birds was handed out to the chapter members present at the meeting. The birds on the list have all been sighted in the Suffolk area. Most of the birds on the list were sighted at the Great Dismal Swamp or the Lone Star lakes areas. Of the 150 birds listed, approximately 50 have been sighted in our park by either Ken or Andy this year. Andy pointed out the fact that our park environment is an “Urban Island” and will become more and more important in the coming years for bird habitat as development continues in the surrounding area.
Andy also discussed the various organizations in our area associated with birds and bird watching. In addition to showing pictures of the various birds sighted at the park, he described the ongoing efforts of bird watchers work on the third year of a five year program to create the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2. The last time the study was done was about 35 years ago. The revision to this atlas will aid birders in determining changes in bird populations, breeding and migration habits of birds in the state of Virginia. This study will also help identify the impact that global warming trends may have on the birds. It was requested that members who sight birds not on the list or not already identified as having been sighted at the park inform Ken Dugan so the list can be updated. If members are interested in bird watching and want to keep track of their sightings, Andy recommended a free App called eBird that can be downloaded to your PC or mobile device.