BBC Flock Flies to T & T
Sore knees, bodysurfing on concrete, airline misappropriation of tickets, a plane with holes in the cargo-bay floor, a radar blackout, no-show-transportation . . . sound like a good trip? How about almost 200 birds (mostly lifers), 80 degrees in December, glorious flowers, breath-taking scenery, delicious food, clean and comfortable accommodations, friendly, enthusiastic, gracious, and knowledgeable natives, and 13 bubbling, bouncing, birding buddies?
All of the above, and more, combined for a fun-filled ten days in Trinidad and Tobago. Because of the camaraderie and spontaneity of our group, the former problems seemed to add to the merriment, while the latter made this a never-to-be-forgotten trip.
In Trinidad, each of us had the choice to participate in daily excursions - over the Northern Range to the seaside village of Blanchisseuse, to the east coast and Nariva Swamp, to the lowland Aripo Savannah and Arena Forest, and to the Caroni Marsh - or to remain at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. At the Centre, we could choose to rest in our very comfortable rooms and watch the many birds that visited the flowering plants outside our windows, view the hundreds of birds that came in to the feeders below the verandah, or explore the well-marked trails. There were always several knowledgeable and friendly guides available to assist you on the verandah or to help you find birds on the trails, if you preferred not going it alone. However, our main guide on Trinidad was Rudal Ramlal, an excellent birder who not only knew where to find the birds, but also went out of his way to ensure that no one missed out on anything. His sense of humor and personal anecdotes made this an even more enjoyable trip.
Throughout our trip, Blue-crowned Motmots were seen almost daily. Other common birds on Trinidad were Blue-black Grassquits, White-lined Tanagers, Purple Honeycreepers, Bananaquits, Crested Oropendolas, Blue-gray Tanagers, Silver-beaked Tanagers, Tropical Mockingbirds, hummingbirds, and on and on and on. The Yellow Oriole showed up frequently, as did the Turquoise Tanagers. Some of the more rare sightings were the Red-capped Cardinal, Grayish Saltator, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Lineated Woodpecker, Black-faced Antthrush, Striped Cuckoo, and Sulphury Flycatcher. Probably the oddest-looking bird seen at the Asa Wright Nature Centre was the Bearded Bellbird. Certainly, one of the most dramatic moments of our trip was when we watched hundreds of Scarlet Ibis returning to their mangrove roosts at dusk in the Caroni Swamp.
Tobago was another world. . . We traveled from a flower-festooned jungle hideaway on a mountainside in Trinidad to the white sand beach of the Batteaux Bay, which fronts the Blue Waters Inn. And the waters really are blue! It was delightful to fall asleep to the sound of the pounding surf, while the ocean breezes blew in through the windows. Many in the group enjoyed both swimming and snorkeling in the Caribbean during our stay here, as well as the three birding trips we eventually had with our errant guide. "Errant" because, when we landed at the Crown Point Airport in Tobago, we discovered that our guide/driver had forgotten about us and was out with another birding group. However, a call to his home soon brought his son with a bus and two cars to drive us the two hours to the Inn where we were to stay on the other end of the island.
Eventually, we discovered that our guide, Adolphus James, was a delightful gentleman who tried to compensate for his initial error by extending what was to be a half-day trip into a full day. With Mr. James, we discovered many interesting birds along the roadside, such as Red-crowned Woodpecker, Venezuelan Flycatcher, Blue-backed Manakin, Red-legged Honeycreeper, and White-fringed Antwren. On our last day, a muddy and hilly trek deep into the tropical rainforest produced a close and prolonged view of the beautiful White-tailed Sabrewing, as well as the Olivaceous Woodcreeper, and the Stripe-breasted Spinetail, among others. During lunch we were treated to excellent views of a Great Black Hawk and a Yellow-legged Thrush.
In addition to the above field trips, we enjoyed a glass-bottom boat ride to Little Tobago Island, which could be seen right across the bay from our inn. On the way out, we viewed beautiful tropical fish, coral, and other under-sea wonders. A hike to the top of the island took us to a display of hundreds of Red-billed Tropicbirds swirling through the air right in front of us and a grand, though distant, view of both Red-footed and Brown Boobies.
Would I go again? You bet!
Christmas Bird Count
The 2000 Baltimore Harbor Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 23.As everyone else has reported with other Counts, the near universal freeze-out of still waters put a bite on the usual waterfowl numbers.
We failed to repeat last year's sightings of Merlin; while some have been reported around DC and a number during the fall at the Federal Hill and Inner Harbor, none were tallied for the Count. We did get one Black Vulture, previously tallied just once in 1994. The observers at Fort Smallwood were kicked out of the park at 4 pm, before most of the cormorants had arrived at the rocks between Ft. Smallwood and Riviera Beach (pronounced "Ri-VEER-uh" by the locals), and couldn't get close enough to the rocks to pick out the Great Cormorant(s) among the Double-crested Cormorants there at dusk.
The two Pintail were in a back corner of Dundalk Marine Terminal. The 7 Shovelers were at Locust Point. The Redheads were in a cove in the south harbor opposite Ft. McHenry. The two Peregrine Falcons counted were at Hart-Miller Island. One Virginia Rail was at North Point State Park. The other two were at Hart-Miller Island. Single Great-horned Owls were found in a secluded neighborhood off Ritchie Highway just inside the Beltway and at Hart-Miller Island, which also had the two Short-eared Owls. While Snowy Owls have been reported on the Island in the past, we have yet to tally one for the Christmas Count. The lone Sapsucker was in the Holly Neck area near Rocky Point State Park. The Thrasher was in the Bowley's Quarters area between Middle River and Bird River. The Pine Warbler was with a flock of Myrtles at the Back River Treatment Plant off Eastern Avenue just outside the Beltway. The Yellowthroat was in the cove opposite Ft. McHenry. Single Field Sparrows were found at Holly Neck and at Fort McHenry. The five White-crowned Sparrows were on Hart-Miller Island, where they are not regularly found. The 80 Snow Buntings counted there, however, are routine on the Island, Baltimore County's reliable winter location for them.
There were 90 species (low) with 22 observers in 11 parties.
Pied-billed Grebe 4 Horned Grebe 1 Dbl-crested Cormorant 40 Great Blue Heron 38 Black Vulture 1 Turkey Vulture 9 Canada Goose 724 Mute Swan 23 Gadwall 60 American Wigeon 17 Black Duck 110 Mallard 568 Northern Pintail 2 Northern Shoveler 7 Canvasback 3456 Redhead 25 Ring-necked Duck 5 Lesser Scaup 1070 Scaup sp 1100 Bufflehead 232 Common Goldeneye 104 Hooded Merganser 48 Common Merganser 21 Red-breasted Merganser 23 Ruddy Duck 357 Bald Eagle (adult) 7 (immature) 2 Bald Eagle (TOTAL) 9 Harrier 5 Sharp-shinned Hawk 6 Cooper's Hawk 2 Red-shouldered Hawk 2 Red-tailed Hawk 19 Kestrel 4 Peregrine 2 Pheasant 8 Virginia Rail 3 Coot 37 Killdeer 17 Bonaparte's Gull 106 Ring-billed Gull 2555 Herring Gull 91 Great Black-backed Gull 59 Pigeon 603 Mourning Dove 150 Great Horned Owl 2 Short-eared Owl 2 Belted Kingfisher 8 Red-bellied Woodpecker 25 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 Downy Woodpecker 42 Hairy Woodpecker 4 Flicker 13 Blue Jay 86 American Crow 202 Fish Crow 4 Crow Sp. 103 Carolina Chickadee 136 Tufted Titmouse 78 White-breasted Nuthatch 7 Brown Creeper 1 Carolina Wren 58 Winter Wren 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet 14 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 15 Bluebird 2 Hermit Thrush 20 Robin 259 Mockingbird 47 Thrasher 1 Starling 1938 American Pipit 51 Cedar Waxwing 75 Pine Warbler 1 Myrtle Warbler 22 Common Yellowthroat 1 Towhee 11 Tree Sparrow 14 Field Sparrow 2 Savannah Sparrow 18 Fox Sparrow 14 Song Sparrow 349 Swamp Sparrow 76 White-throated Sparrow 550 White-crowned Sparrow 5 Junco 314 Snow Bunting 80 Cardinal 167 Red-winged Blackbird 689 Common Grackle 216 Cowbird 3 House Finch 106 Goldfinch 56 House Sparrow 240 SPECIES 90 BIRDS 17853 Observers 22 Parties 11 START TIME 6:40 STOP TIME 5:00 Total Hours 51 Foot Hours 44 Car Hours 7 Total Miles 145 Foot Miles 33 Car Miles 112 Min Temp 10 Max Temp 28 Min Wind 0 Max Wind 7 MPH Direction (NW?) Sky AM Mostly sunny Sky PM Mostly sunny Snow Co 1/2 inch Stil ater Frozen Moving Water Partly open Observers: Dan Britt Dan Cockerham Ralph Cullison Shirley Geddes Wayne Gordon Kevin Graff Peter Lev Taylor McLean Jim Peters Barbara Ross James Ross (son) Roberta Ross Terry Ross Gene Scarpulla Kevin Smith Debbie Terry David Walbeck Pete Webb (compiler)
Anneke Davis Receives Award
Each year Irvine presents an award to an individual who has made significant contributions to environmental education and conservation in Maryland. We are pleased to announce that the 15th Annual Olivia Irvine Dodge Conservation Award went to Anneke Davis.
Ajax Eastmen presented the award to Anneke during Irvine's Native Plant Seminar in August. The following are just a few excerpts from her presentation:
"Anneke Davis has been immersed in the environment since a very early age.... She teaches nature photography and has done photographic exhibits including one on the numerous water quality problems of the Jones Falls. That production helped serve as the impetus for today's enormous focus on the Jones Falls....Anneke became the president of the Baltimore Environmental Center and editor of their newsletter, the Beacon ... She has served as the conservation chair of the Baltimore Bird Club and Maryland Ornithological Society .. Today Anneke's greatest involvement is with the Maryland Conservation Council, where she serves as vice-chairman for publications and is the editor of the Conservation Report, their weekly legislative newsletter."
Wetland Arbor Day
at Fort McHenry
Help Beautify Fort McHenry's Wetland
by donating a tree, shrub or plant.
A Fort McHenry Wetland Arbor Day is scheduled on April 7, 2001, rain or shine, from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. Baltimore Bird Club member or anyone else wishing to contribute to the enhancement of habitat along the Glenn Page Nature Trail may bring their shrubs and trees to the Fort for planting on that day. There will be volunteers available to help with the planting.
Which plants to chose
Please select your donation(s) from the approved list of plants posted in Chip Notes and on the BBC web page site at:
You may either dig up the donation(s) from your yard or purchase them from a favorite nursery. If the item you wish to donate is not listed, please check with Jim Peters. If you're unable to make it on April 7 give Jim a call at (410) 429-0966 to make other arrangements.
Plants should be in pots and tagged with the species name and the name of the donor. For ease of handling, plants should not exceed 3'-4' in height.
Place to deliver your plants, planting locations & available tools for planting
Plants will be received at the Fort McHenry visitor parking lot where an N.P.S. white Cushman pick-up truck will transport donated tree and shrubs to the trail head in the Fort maintenance yard.
Volunteers will greet and assist you in carrying your plant to the designated location on the berm where it has been assigned for planting. Donors who are assisting in planting their tree or shrub should remain parked at the visitor center and walk to the trail head.
Tools for planting and water will be available to help you prepare the hole for your plant(s.)
Fort McHenry Plant Wish List
Please make your selection(s) from the list of native trees and shrubs native trees below.
If a particular plant is over subscribed, you will be contacted so that you may choose a different species.
If you are unable to attend the April 7 planting, contact Jim at (410) 429-0966 to make other arrangements.
Mail list of your contribution(s), showing your name and telephone, plant species, and number donating to
4427 Piney Grove Road
Reisterstown, MD 21136
Or call Jim at (410) 429-0966
The following is the list of the species and quantities desired:
10 Bayberry, Northern - Myrica pennsylvanica 5 Black Chokeberry - Aronia melanocarpa 2 Black Gum - Nyssa sylvatica 2 Black Huckleberry - Gaylussacia baccata 4 Blueberry, Highbush - Vaccinium corymbosum 4 Blueberry, Lowbush - Vaccinium vacillans or V. augustilfolium 2 Buttonbush - Cephalanthus occidentalis 1 Cherry, Black - Prunus serotina 6 Cedar, American White - Thuja occidentalis 6 Cedar, Red- Juniperus virginiana 6 Cedar, Atlantic White - Chamaecyparis thyoides 5 Chokeberry, Red - Aronia arbutifolia, Pyrus arbutifolia 2 Crabapple, American - Pyrus coronaria 3 Cranberry, Highbush- Viburnum trilobum 3 Dogwood, Gray - Cornus racemosa 3 Dogwood, Red Osier- Cornus stolonifera 3 Dogwood, Silky - Cornus amomum 3 Elderberry, Common - Sambucus canadensis 1 Fringe Tree - Chionanthus virginicus 2 Graybirch - Betula populifolia 4 Hackberry, American - Celtis occidentalis 2 Hawthorn, Washington - Crataegus phaenopyrum 2 Hazelnut, American- Corylus americana 10 Holly, American- Ilex opaca 3 Holly, Low Gallberry- Ilex glabra 1 Ironwood - Carpinus caroliniana 2 Loblolly Pine - Pinus taeda 2 Longleaf Pine - Pinus australis 4 Magnolia, Sweetbay - Magnolia virginiana 2 Persimmon - Diospyros virginiana 2 Plum, Beach - Prunus maritima 10 Serviceberry - Amelanchier canadensis (all species accepted) 2 Sassafras - Sassafras albidum 5 Spice Bush - Lindera benzoin 1 Sweetgum - Liquidamber styraciflua 1 Sweet Pepperbush - Clethra alnifolia 2 Tulip Poplar - Liriodendron tulipifera 3 Sumac, Shiny - Rhus copallinum 3 Sumac, Smooth - Rhus glabra 3 Sumac, Staghorn - Rhus typhina 10 Wax Myrtle - Myrica cerifera 3 Willow, Black - Salix nigra 2 Winterberry - Ilex verticillata
It was an unexpected offer when my wife's brother called. He was giving his wife a trip to the Galapagos for her 60th birthday. Moreover, he was chartering a yacht with room for 12 but still had room for two after including closest family. Did we want to go? "Yes!" with hardly a thought.
The planning for the Galapagos part of the trip was done; all we had to do was get to Quito, Ecuador and the rest was being handled by Abercrombie and Kent (A&K). Thus, the need to arrange for two round-trips to Quito led me on a search of various travel web sites. The usual sites --expedia.com and travelocity.com --were quoting fares of about $800 a person. In reading at savvytraveler.com I found a suggestion about using ticket consolidators -- this led me eventually to tiss.com where exactly the same American Airlines flights were offered at $485 plus tax. Tiss.com only does international travel but is highly recommended -- the only complications were the need to confirm by fax for some reason.
Recommended inoculations for the trip included hepatitis A and typhoid. My doctor suggested that I get hepatitis B and boost my polio and tetanus immunizations as well. After the fact, we discovered a superior service -- Passport Health Travel Clinic with offices in many convenient Maryland locations (1-888-499-7277 or passporthealth.com).
Since A&K was handling the rest of the trip, the next option was to spend some extra time in Ecuador. Searching for "birding ecuador" very quickly turned up web pages for Bellavista in the cloud forests of Ecuador (www.ecuadorexplorer.com/bellavista/). We only had five free days and considered trying to see other areas of Ecuador such as the Amazon basin, but luckily we chose to limit our trip to just the cloud forest and the Galapagos. Travel in Ecuador, we found, is measured in hours, not miles! Bellavista is two hours north of Quito over dirt and "modern" roads. Even "modern" roads are often full of pot holes. To have tried to fit in the Amazon basin as well would have cost at least one more day of travel time. As it was, four full days at Bellavista was about right although two days would be the minimum time needed there to see most birds.
We arrived in Quito at about 11:15 Sunday night to be met by our taxi driver, Nestor (arranged by Bellavista). Nestor took us to the Quito Bed and Breakfast run by Bellavista where we stayed the night. He then picked us up at 8 am the next day for the trip to Bellavista. The B&B is fine for one night but seems to be less a full-time operation than a convenience for weary travelers such as ourselves.
The two-hour trip to Bellavista in Nestor's cab was $30 (but was bundled into the pricing for the whole trip). The first hour was over a blacktop road and, once we left the pollution of Quito, was very scenic. The second hour was over dirt roads that used to be the main route to Mindo just three years ago.
The Bellavista Lodge is a geodesic dome that is built of wood and bamboo with a thatched roof. The main floor of the dome is the lounge and dining area. The second floor is reached by spiral staircase, has very basic rooms, each with a private bath, balcony, and hummingbird feeder. The third floor is a dorm and is reached by ladder. A new section of rooms has just been completed -- and while they promise to be more comfortable and accessible, they do conform to the "eco-lodge" concept that inspired the original dome part of the hotel.
Upon approaching the lodge the first things one (a birder, anyway) notices are the multiple hummer feeders on the porch surrounding the lodge. There are 6 hummer species that were usual visitors -Tawny-bellied Hermit, Western Emerald, Speckled, Collared Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, and Gorgeted Sunangel. We also saw a Racket Tail that had been stunned striking the glass on the porch. Another early and frequent visitor was a Blue-Wing Mountain Tanager. (See Bellavista's Bird Gallery for some pictures.)
Our host and the manager of Bellavista was Edison Buenanc. He and the other staff were excellent. Edison is also the primary guide and helped us far beyond our expectations, arranging several guided trips and two car trips to nearby areas. One trip highlight was to a nesting site for a pair of Toucan Barbets. This is one of the signature birds for the area and an incredible sight. I got only a distant picture that does not begin to capture the shading of the feathers. This was the only time I wished that I had brought along the spotting scope I packed and never used the whole trip; binoculars were more than adequate. Another trip was to a private hummingbird preserve where the owners maintain many feeders and attracted 15 different varieties of hummers while we were watching (raptly). The Racket Tail and a Violet-tailed Sylph were only two of the highlights.
Two of the most common birds there are Spillman's Tapaculo and Plain-tailed Wren --both heard (very loud calls) but rarely seen. We finally saw both on our last full day as two Tapaculos walked (they do not fly) into the trail in front of us. A couple of wrens also obliged by emerging from the foliage for a viewing. From our final tally of 73 species, we had previously seen only three: Blackburnian Warbler, Turkey and Black Vulture.
The trip back to Quito was also a special treat. We stopped at the Ecuador Orchid Preserve to see orchids (we thought). It turned out that the orchids were minimal this year because of the dry conditions. The guide at the preserve led us high up a narrow valley and showed something even better: a Cock in the Rock and an Oriole Blackbird.
We finally got back to Quito with a recommendation for a place to eat that night -- Cafe de la Cultura. Our dining experience there was superb. The food at Bellavista was excellent if somewhat simpler. It is largely vegetarian (fish from a nearby farm was served two evenings). We never once had any intestinal problems --Bellavista provides boiled water and washes all vegetables (typical of all good eating places in Ecuador). No problems with insects at any time, either.
(Be sure to read the 2nd installment of Joe and Carol McDaniel's dream trip titled "The Galapagos" which will appear in the Apr/May issue of Chip Notes.)
in Frederick County
The best winter birding treat for lots of area birders has been a Snowy Owl in Frederick County. This magnificent bird has been in the New Design-Oland Road area south of Buckeystown. According to local people it was first seen in early November but birders did not become aware of it until December 10 when it was reported on Maryland Osprey, the Internet birding discussion list, http://home.ease.lsoft.com/archives/mdosprey.html
And, boy, has it ever been seen! Dozens of viewers have been lining the roads, especially on weekends, since then and almost always seeing the Snowy, usually after 3 PM. At the beginning it tended to sit on telephone poles along New Design Road from north of Oland Road to south of Greenfield Road and could be approached very closely. More recently, it has apparently become more cautious and usually stays a hundred feet away or more, but still viewable from public roads.
Unfortunately, all this birding pressure was disturbing more than just the owl. On January 10 a report on Osprey indicated that one of the property owners on the south side of Oland Road was very upset with people trespassing on his property and said his fence had been broken. The police will enforce his desire that no one park at all on the south side of Oland Road. As of mid-January, the owner of the north side will allow people to park and stand on the property on the edge of the road, but the police threaten to give tickets to anyone not parking completely off the road anywhere in the area.
Obviously, some birders have been stretching or completely breaching birding ethics and common sense with regard to this bird. For an official version of the code of birding ethics on the Internet, which the Maryland Ornithological Society subscribes to, see http://www.mdbirds.org/ethics.html .
By the time you read this, the owl may well be gone, and the access to the area may be even more restricted. If you DO want to look for the Snowy Owl, check the latest information on Osprey or other sources such as the recorded "Voice of the Naturalist "at 301-652-1088 . At a minimum, be sure to stay off the SOUTH side of Oland Road, and park completely off the road on the north side, or on other roads, and be extremely sensitive to any indications that you are unwelcome.
I put some pictures I took of the owl (from the roadside!), with some links to other pictures, and to Osprey, at http://www.geocities.com/bfbooby/SnowyOwl.html .
Field Trip Reports
Compiled by Steve Sanford
October 28 - Northampton Furnace Trail - 10 observers enjoyed 51 species of birds on this trail on the west side of Loch Raven. Some of the highlights were 3 Bald Eagles, 20 Wigeon, 7 Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Winter Wren, and a Hermit Thrush. Leader: Joy Wheeler.
November 5 - Horsehead Wetlands Center. 10 participants visited this sanctuary by the Bay in Grasonville, Queen Anne's County. They saw 49 species including large numbers of Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks and about a dozen other species of water birds. Leaders: Terry Ross and Kevin Graff.
November 18 Fort McHenry - Leader Jim Peters writes "A good variety of birds for a 3 1/4 hour walk on a breezy, cold morning. Rusty Blackbird was added to the fort list bringing it up to 139 species over the past 15 months of monitoring. Cedar Waxing became the 98th bird of the year list which began August 17, 2000. We had good looks at most of the species, some very close to us. Most exciting was the large number of sparrows that typically can be found along the trail in the fall and winter months. We had at least 10 Fox Sparrows. Previously the count of Fox Sparrows had been three on any one day. Missing from the list were the Mockingbirds that are resident on the fort grounds, and Myrtle Warbler which is usually present. We also missed Winter Wren which has been present recently.
"On future trips we would expect more ducks (Canvasback. Ruddy Duck, both scaups, Black Duck, and scoters) and we also should have some additional passerines, such as Hermit Thrush, Tree Sparrow as well as American Pipit showing up."
There were 8 participants. The weather was sunny, about 40°, with WNW winds 10 mph. The species total was 31.
December 2 - Southern Maryland - We stopped first at Schoolhouse Pond in Upper Marlboro but did not see the recently seen White Pelican. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp was cooking with kinglets, mainly Golden-crowned, Winter Wrens, Y-b Sapsuckers, and a Hermit Thrush. At Point Lookout the main surprise for this trip at this season was several very distant Brown Pelicans at Point Lookout. There were also 50-100 Gannets also way in the distance, which is more to be expected. Three bald Eagles flew in to land seemingly straight from the middle of the bay which was a little surprising. Other sightings at the Point were routine but always enjoyable: Surf and White-winged Scoters (no Blacks), Oldsquaw, Buffleheads, a few Goldeneye, a fair number of Forsters Terns, but surprisingly, no loons at all. The cold north wind stirred up quite a chop which limited visibility and our endurance. We missed Brown-headed Nuthatches, thanks probably also to the wind. The final stop, Beauvue Ponds, gave us lots of Hooded Mergansers and Ring-necked Ducks. We had 9 species with 10 participants. Weather: temps around 40 with north wind 5-15 mph. Leader: Steve Sanford.
Jim Peters Recognized for
Fort McHenry Wetlands
By Steve Sanford
Jim Peters efforts to develop the Fort McHenry Wetlands were publicized by an article in the Baltimore Sun on November 5, which cited his receipt of an award for outstanding volunteer achievements from Coastal America, a partnership of government agencies and the private sector.
The wetland was formed 15 years ago from river dredgings. For about a year Jim has been turning this area into a delightful and productive sanctuary with some help from his wife and volunteers such as Boy Scouts and Morgan State students. It involved much clearing of weeds and building up and reinforcing of the earth around the edge in order to create pathways. Jim put up an Osprey platform, houses for Purple Martins and Tree Swallows, and feeders. He also put up benches and signs naming various areas. Jim and Barbara Ross have established a banding station as well.
The wetland is about a quarter of a mile west of the main Fort McHenry parking area. To visit the sanctuary, make arrangements with Jim at (410) 429-0966, or join one of the growing number of Baltimore Bird Club field trips there: Counts every first Wednesday of the month, and Saturday morning trips February 17 and March 17, and "Arbor Day," April 7. See the Activities schedule for more information, and page 3 concerning Arbor Day.
These are new activities not on the original schedule
for the overall schedule.
Feb 17 (Sat) 8am to noon Fort McHenry - For wintering passerines and waterfowl. Meet at 8am in the visitor parking lot. Dress warmly. Telescopes useful. Canceled if raining. Directions: From I-95: take Hanover Street exit 55, McComas St (last exit before tunnel eastbound, first after tunnel westbound), north on Key Hwy which turns west, first left Lawrence St, left onto Fort Avenue, continue east to end passing through gateway into the park, and continue to parking lots. >From the JFX, I-83, south to St. Paul St. exit, south on St. Paul becomes Light St., then left (east) onto Fort Avenue, continue to end as above. From the entrance, the wetlands are to the right; an asphalt path leads to the site. Meet just past the statue of Orpheus. Leader: Jim Peters 410-429-0966.
MAR 3 (Sat.) Horsehead Sanctuary and Terrapin Beach on Kent Island for waterfowl and songbirds. Possible Brown-headed Nuthatch. Bring lunch although there may be opportunity for fast food stop. Meet at Nursery Rd Hammonds Ferry Rd Park-n-Ride 7:30 Directions: Take I-695 Beltway exit 8. From outer loop (southbound), ramp leads to parking lot across Hammonds Ferry Rd. From inner loop, ramp leads to Nursery Rd. Turn right on Nursery Rd., right on Hammonds Ferry Rd., then left into Park-n-Ride lot. Or meet at Horsehead parking lot 8:30 am. Leaders: Pete Webb and Kevin Graff. Contact Pete at 410-486-1217 or e-mail for info.
March 17 (Sat) 8am to noon Fort McHenry - same as Feb. 17
March 19th (Mon) 7:30 p.m. Veracruz, River of Raptors, slide show about the world's largest raptor migration by special guest speakers, Pat and Clay Sutton. Pat will also show slides of butterflies she photographed while in Veracruz. Pat and Clay are widely published authors on birding and have led trips to Veracruz, Mexico for the past three years. Location: Oregon Ridge Lodge, 13401 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville Cost: free to ORNC members, $3.00, non-members at the door. For information call Oregon Ridge Nature Center, 410-887-1815.
(Not a Baltimore Bird Club activity)
MAR 24 (Sat) 10:00 - Noon. Baltimore Zoo. Steve Sarro, Curator of Birds, takes us behind the scenes to Rock Island, home of the zoos African black-footed penguin population; learn about the zoo's Species Survival Plan for the North American population. Visit the exotic birds and natives in the Raptor Garden, with a red shouldered hawk, peregrine falcon and screech owl, etc. In the zoo lab meet the animal ambassadors. Outdoor picnic tables available for lunch, and spend the afternoon on your own. Zoo admission is $9.50. Space on the tour is limited. Reserve with Nancy Meier, 410-719-9335, or . Meet inside the Zoo's front entrance.
Cylburn Arboretum Association Programs
FEB 11 3 pm Valentine's Day Reception (for invited guests only), Snow date Feb 18
MAR 2-4 and 9-11 Maryland Home and Flower Show
MAR 25 2:30 pm Monet's Garden - slide lecture by Mary Ellen Bay
APR 21 11 am Aromatherapy - lecture by Ellen Decaro
APR 28 Bird Walk and Breakfast with the Birds with Joy Wheeler and Patsy Perlman
APR 22 2:30 Wildflowers - lecture by David Pyle, followed by trail walk by Joyce Holmes and David Pyle
BBC Mail Order
The Baltimore Bird Club is now offering its merchandise for sale through its mail order section. The following items are available. All prices include shipping costs.
Baltimore Bird Club's Birding Site Guide - $12.00
Baltimore Bird Club T-Shirt - $18.00 (only XL left)
MOS Patch - $3.50
MOS Decal - $3.50
Please make your check or money order payable to "The Baltimore Bird Club" and send your order to: Joseph Lewandowski, 3021 Temple Gate, Baltimore, Maryland 21209.
Back Yard Birding and Beyond
By Gail Frantz
We're not hearing a whole lot from you about your back yard birding lately! So we're expanding the scope to include your birding experiences in Maryland. Have you had an enjoyable or interesting birding experience in Maryland that you'd like to share? Send in your description. Be sure to include: the time of year, and the birds you saw. If it's a public area, include directions and travel time so that others might visit there too.
Joel Martin has more information concerning his backyard Bewick's Wren sighting this past October:
Just wanted to let you all know I've come to the conclusion that my mystery wren was a Bewick's. Last week (11/10) I went up to the Delaware Museum of Natural History & got to pore over trays of study skins for a couple of hours. I just couldn't see any room for confusion between the two species, especially when seen as well & close as this bird was. As they say, in nature you can never say "never", "always" or "impossible" -- but in this case I think I'd have to have been totally delusional to be mistaken about the ID. So, I'm writing it up for the records committee and we'll see what they say. Even if they don't accept it, it may stir some interest in possible Bewick's vagrancy in Md.
Also this week I was able to see the Howard County's Greater White-fronted Goose! That's life bird #299, so now the pressure's on to reach 300 this year. I have a number of very do-able targets to shoot for -- American Pipit. Lesser Black-backed Gull . . . Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow --plus who knows what rarities will show up. The way this winter is shaping up, maybe #300 will be a Hawk Owl!
On Nov 27, Sister Barbara Ann reported an Ovenbird in the azalea bushes outside the convent cafeteria. Sister also relates a battle of wills between birds & humans. In an effort to keep Canada Geese from landing on a local pond, 3 to 4 ft wide fishing lines were strung in a grid across the pond's surface. However, adult geese created a mud slide for the baby Canadas to slide underneath the grid and into the water.
You may recall Sister Barbara's popular book, "Beakless Bluebirds & Featherless Penguins" which is still in print. Keep your eyes open for her new book entitled, "Illuminating Tale of Three Old Monks and A Very Bad Boy." The book will be published sometime in the year 2001.
From Keith Eric Costley:
Yesterday (11/18) at 4:3 pm a Selasphorus Hummingbird came to my feeder in Randallstown. I could not match this bird to any photos/illustrations but I will describe it here: The gorget is washed with rufous color and has rows of dark dots originating from base of the bill. A few iridescent feathers centered at the bottom of the gorget often flashed gold. A white bib crossed the upper breast. The rump and the uppertail coverts are solid rufous while the undertail coverts are white. Other rufous areas (the flanks, belly, nape and auricular) are blotchy on white. The bird's forehead, back and scapulars are green. The primary flight feathers and tail feathers are dark.
The hummer returned today (11/19) to enjoy a fresh supply of nectar. I managed to edit the video and get 10 minutes of some good shots.
Keith made a copy of the hummer video and sent it to Bob Sargent (master hummingbird bander from Alabama.) Bob wasn't able to ID the bird with certainty but had a "gut feeling" that it was an immature Allen's.
Harry Smith, TV personality, will host a "Travels With Harry" beginning in January on the A&E cable. Bob and his work with bird banding and conservation is to be featured as the lead off segment. Check your local listings.
And from Beyond the Back Yard...
Serendipity on an Autumn Day Trip
By not putting on the old reading glasses when needed or just stretching the arm a little to see a bit clearer, my world became a richer place on Saturday, November 8.
As I glanced at the notice for an MOS state board meeting being held at the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary in Prince Frederick (Calvert County), my curiosity kicked in. I looked forward to going and didn't notice that the board meeting was not for MOS but instead for the Maryland Conservation Council (MCC.)
Thinking that I would probably attend, I looked up several places in the area that might be promising birding areas. I decided to ask someone to ride along and possibly do some birding. I invited a friend who said she would be glad to go.
We arrived early and while talking with Millie Kriemelmeyer, president of the MCC, we realized the mistake we'd made. Millie helped us sort out the misunderstanding and graciously asked us to stay. She offered us hot coffee and donuts and invited us to join the group at lunch which would be served later in the day. We thanked her, took her up on the offer and decided to make a day of it.
A ranger presented a very interesting program about the history of the swamp. She told us that the bald cypress trees were last logged about one hundred years ago. Another logging was slated during the 1950's but when the Nature Conservancy discovered what was about to happen. They purchased the swamp and turned the area into a sanctuary.
The ranger went on to explain that when the knees of the cypress are growing they will remain red on the top. Scientists still have not determined why the trees grow these knees but have figured out that different water levels, particularly during spring floods, trigger growth in the knees.
My friend and I ventured out to walk along a boardwalk (made of recycled plastic) which runs throughout the swamp. There were many small Paw-paw trees growing in the understory of the cypress throughout swamp. Because the Paw-paws are the host plant for the Zebra Swallowtail caterpillar, we were told that in the summer the swamp has many Zebra butterflies.
The sanctuary has a respectable list of over 123 bird species. November is not a particularly birdy month in the swamp but we still managed to see a Winter Wren, Myrtle warblers, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-throated sparrows, Black Vultures, a Brown Thrasher, a Red-tailed Hawk, Robins and Bluebirds. A blind Barred Owl that had been hit by a car is on display. He used his hearing to follow each move I made as I moved around the outside of his cage.
Inside the center there is an Albino Turtle in a large tank made up to look like a part of the swamp. He was found ten years ago walking across a local road and undoubtedly would have been killed if not brought to the center.
We left the swamp and decided to check some other close areas such as, Flag Pond Nature Park, Calvert Cliffs and also a very old lighthouse that will be reopened soon as a museum. We made a quick turn a-round when we noticed local landfill. The guard at the gate let us in without a problem and told us where "the other birders" sit to check out the gulls. We enjoyed Great Black-backed and Herring gulls as they walked within a few feet of the loud, heavy trucks showing no fear of the machinery. Several Turkey Vultures were sunning themselves on the piles of sand with wings spread out in the warm sun.
We decided to head home about 3:30 content with the many unsought for discoveries we made on this very pleasant day.
Directions to Battle Creek Cypress Swamp: Baltimore Beltway (I-95), take Route 301 South into Rt. 4 South. Just south of Prince Frederick, turn right onto Sixes Rd (Rt 506.) Look for the sign and turn left on Gray's Rd. The Sanctuary will be on your right approximately one quarter mile. Travel time one-way is about 1 1/2 hours.
Let us hear about your Back Yard and Maryland Birding too!!!
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13955 Old Hanover Rd.
Reisterstown MD 21136