May Count 2001
Organized by Michele Melia - Compiled by Steve Sanford
The May Count for Baltimore City and County was held May 12, 2001. 51 people in 21 parties participated and observed 160 species of birds. This is pretty respectable considering that migration was generally very lean this spring, perhaps because of a persistent high pressure system that may have encouraged the migrants to fly right through our area without stopping.
Perhaps the most noteworthy species were: a Golden-winged Warbler seen by Scott Crabtree's party at Leakin Park; a Summer Tanager seen by Keith Eric Costley back at it's now traditional location at Soldiers Delight; and a Lesser Black-backed Gull seen by Gene Scarpulla's party at Hart-Miller Island. Species that were seen by one party only are marked in the list with an asterisk. Not surprisingly 21 of 42 were seen by the Hart-Miller group - mainly shorebirds and waterfowl, but a few land birds also, including Blue-headed Vireo and Pipit. Gene remarked that there was somewhat of a land bird fallout on the island. Some other notable species were Wilson's Warbler, seen by 3 parties, Least Flycatcher seen by 2, and a good supply of Bobolinks (248). Some surprising low counts were Common Loon, Green Heron, Canada Warbler, Chat, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Surprisingly absent were Great Egret, and Laughing Gull. Sadly, the low number of Meadowlarks, Pheasants, and absence of Bobwhites is no longer surprising due to the deterioration of suitable rural habitat.
It was a pretty decent day weather-wise: mostly sunny in the morning to fairly cloudy in the afternoon with brief light showers for a few parties. Temperatures ranged from the low 60's in the early morning to around 80° in the afternoon, except for 90° on Hart-Miller Island. Winds were light from the southwest in the morning, turning to northwesterly in the afternoon from 10 to 20 mph in some areas.
We certainly thank our counters: Bill Ballfour, Anne Brooks, Don Burggraf, Brent Byers, Mary Byers, Mary Jo Campbell, Keith Eric Costley, Scott Crabtree, Ruth Culbertson, Ralph Cullison, Bob Dixon, JoAnn Dreyer, Gail Frantz, Helene Gardel, Shirley Geddes, Kevin Graff, Josie Gray, Linda Groff, Dot Gustafson, Jim Highsaw, Rob Holtz, Kye Jenkins, Sukon Kanchanaraksa, Elliot Kirschbaum, Nancy Kirschbaum, Elise Kreiss, Paul Kreiss, Peter Lev, John Maloney, Michele Melia, Jim Meyers, John Meyers, Sharon Morell, Paul Noell, Eric Perlman, Patsy Perlman, Linda Prentice, George Rill, Brian Rollfinke, Steve Sanford, Jean Sawyer, Gene Scarpulla, Carol Schreter, Ed Smith, Betty Strauss, Debbie Terry, Drew Thornblad, David Thorndill, Darlene Valentine, Pete Webb, Marion Wilson.
May Count Results
Baltimore City and County - May 12, 2001
* = species seen by one party only Common Loon * 1 Double-crested Cormorant 116 Great Blue Heron 56 Snowy Egret * 3 Cattle Egret * 14 Green Heron 2 Black-crowned Night-Heron * 1 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron * 1 Glossy Ibis * 8 Black Vulture 14 Turkey Vulture 84 Canada Goose 279 Wood Duck 37 Gadwall * 3 American Black Duck * 2 Mallard 215 Greater Scaup * 6 Ruddy Duck * 1 Osprey 19 Bald Eagle * 2 Northern Harrier * 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk 5 Cooper's Hawk 2 Red-shouldered Hawk 4 Broad-winged Hawk 3 Red-tailed Hawk 29 American Kestrel 3 Peregrine Falcon * 2 Ring-necked Pheasant * 1 Wild Turkey * 2 Black-bellied Plover * 10 Semipalmated Plover * 21 Killdeer 51 Greater Yellowlegs * 6 Lesser Yellowlegs 9 Solitary Sandpiper 65 Spotted Sandpiper 34 Red Knot * 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper 5 Western Sandpiper 15 Least Sandpiper 59 peep sp 73 Dunlin * 164 Short-billed Dowitcher * 2 Long-billed Dowitcher * 1 Ring-billed Gull 56 Herring Gull 1328 Lesser Black-backed Gull * 1 Great Black-backed Gull 258 Caspian Tern * 153 Royal Tern * 2 Least Tern * 8 Rock Dove 77 Mourning Dove 219 Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3 Barred Owl 2 Common Nighthawk * 1 Whip-poor-will * 2 Chimney Swift 127 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 18 Belted Kingfisher 8 Red-bellied Woodpecker 178 Downy Woodpecker 35 Hairy Woodpecker 5 Northern Flicker 32 Pileated Woodpecker 8 Eastern Wood-Pewee 50 Acadian Flycatcher 83 Willow Flycatcher 2 Least Flycatcher 2 Eastern Phoebe 44 Great Crested Flycatcher 62 Eastern Kingbird 79 White-eyed Vireo 36 Yellow-throated Vireo 15 Blue-headed Vireo * 2 Warbling Vireo 39 Red-eyed Vireo 294 Blue Jay 120 American Crow 483 Fish Crow 16 Crow sp 37 Horned Lark * 1 Purple Martin 5 Tree Swallow 64 Northern Rough-wing Swallow 116 Cliff Swallow 36 Barn Swallow 299 Carolina Chickadee 138 Tufted Titmouse 178 White-breasted Nuthatch 27 Carolina Wren 120 House Wren 69 Marsh Wren 12 Ruby-crowned Kinglet * 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 93 Eastern Bluebird 71 Veery 36 Swainson's Thrush 10 Wood Thrush 198 American Robin 459 Gray Catbird 540 Northern Mockingbird 135 Brown Thrasher 11 European Starling 557 American Pipit * 1 Cedar Waxwing 279 Blue-winged Warbler * 2 Golden-winged Warbler * 1 Tennessee Warbler * 2 Nashville Warbler 2 Northern Parula 59 Yellow Warbler 82 Chestnut-sided Warbler 12 Magnolia Warbler 24 Black-throated Blue Warbler 50 Yellow-rumped Warbler 46 Black-throated Green Warbler 21 Blackburnian Warbler 6 Pine Warbler 3 Prairie Warbler 33 Bay-breasted Warbler 6 Blackpoll Warbler 27 Cerulean Warbler * 1 Black-and-white Warbler 24 American Redstart 56 Prothonotary Warbler * 1 Worm-eating Warbler 8 Ovenbird 75 Northern Waterthrush 8 Louisiana Waterthrush 18 Kentucky Warbler 10 Common Yellowthroat 134 Hooded Warbler 18 Wilson's Warbler 3 Canada Warbler 2 Yellow-breasted Chat 6 Summer Tanager * 1 Scarlet Tanager 103 Eastern Towhee 72 Chipping Sparrow 163 Field Sparrow 47 Savannah Sparrow * 9 Grasshopper Sparrow * 1 Song Sparrow 149 Swamp Sparrow * 8 White-throated Sparrow 8 White-crowned Sparrow 4 Northern Cardinal 365 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 12 Blue Grosbeak * 3 Indigo Bunting 135 Bobolink 248 Red-winged Blackbird 343 Eastern Meadowlark 2 Common Grackle 352 Brown-headed Cowbird 101 Orchard Oriole 28 Baltimore Oriole 118 House Finch 176 American Goldfinch 295 House Sparrow 193 SPECIES COUNT 160 Time start 12:00 AM Time stop 10:00 PM Hours foot 87.75 Hours Car 25.25 Miles foot 69.5 Miles car 172 Hours Feeder Watch 15.5 Parties 21 Observers 51
Lake Roland Plans
In early May, Baltimore City and Baltimore County convened an open meeting to discuss plans for Robert E. Lee Park, usually known as Lake Roland. This wonderful park is owned by Baltimore City but situated in Baltimore County. The City and County plan a jointly funded repair of the bridge at the park's main entrance, and other improvements are possible (upgraded rest rooms would be nice!).
The City/County planning process creates a great opportunity to safeguard the future of the park. Lake Roland is now zoned residential. This is the time for us to try to change that zoning-- to "nature conservancy," "natural preserve," "natural area," or some similar language.
You can help us protect the park! If you live in Baltimore County, please write to your Councilperson and/or the County Executive. Baltimore County controls the zoning process. If you live in Baltimore City, please write to your Councilpeople (3 per district) and/or the Mayor. Baltimore City owns Robert E. Lee Park. To find out who represents your district, contact the League of Women Voters at 410-464-1901.
Please write the letter in your own words. You may wish to include some of these points:
***Lake Roland, as a large natural park with varied habitats, is an important wildlife sanctuary.
***Lake Roland is heavily used by birders, especially during migration. The Baltimore Bird Club has been holding migration walks at Lake Roland since 1945!
***At a recent community meeting on Lake Roland, all speakers favored preserving the park as a natural area.
***Any Baltimore City/Baltimore County plan for park improvements should include a zoning change, to "natural area," "nature conservancy," "wildlife preserve," etc.
***As taxpayers, we want a new bridge and better rest rooms at Lake Roland, but we also need a zoning change. We must protect this beautiful park for our children and grandchildren.
Please help. Write your elected officials in Baltimore County and Baltimore City.
Baltimore Bird Club Annual Report 2000-01
RECEIPTS Memberships $ 7,610.25 Sales $ 564.65 Checking Interest $ 36.66 Savings Interest $ 488.03 Honoraria & Misc $ 80.00 TOTAL RECEIPTS $ 8,779.59 EXPENDITURES MOS Dues $ 3,737.50 Chip Notes Printing $ 1,437.00 Membership Printing (1) $ 1,210.00 Museum $ 666.00 All Postage (2) $ 231.83 Donations $ 330.00 Birdline $ 208.39 Honoraria for lecturers $ 280.00 Museum Insurance Fund $ 250.00 Internet $ 100.00 Sales Taxes $ 24.97 Miscellaneous (3) $ 361.41 TOTAL EXPENDITURES $ 8,837.10 DEFICIT $ 57.51 Savings Balance $ 8,783.11 Checking Balance $ 1,185.50 Operating Balance $ 9,968.61 (04/30/01)1) Membership Printing includes: Program Booklets, Stationery, and envelopes for Memberships Mailing
2) Postage includes: Chip Notes mailings, Membership mailings, Bulk Mail Permit, and Officers mailings
3) Miscellaneous includes: Xerox copies by Officers, Birdseed, Chip Notes labels, Yellow Books and Patches for Sale, Chip Notes Printer Cartridge, and Hospitality
Joshua Tree National Park
We thought we'd tell you about our trip to Joshua Tree National Park. The park (northeast of Palm Springs, CA) is named for the 1,000 year-old Joshua tree - a funny tree with furry bark and oddball arm-limbs. We camped and hiked at the park for three days in mid-April at elevations of 2,500-2,900 feet. With daytime temperatures in the 80's & 90's and evenings cooling off to the 40's, the weather was perfect for both hiking and stargazing.
The desert in spring boasts hundreds of species of blooming wildflowers and plenty of wildlife. Our biggest "critter" surprises were an endangered desert tortoise who we nearly tripped over on a hike to Eagle Cliff (yes, we did see a Golden Eagle circling an abandoned mine). The tortoise's fist-sized jeweled shell and miniature head and claws captivated us as it crossed our path, oh so slowly. We also were amazed by the chubby chuckwalla, a lizard with a tail that looked like a succulent plant, and by another unidentified lizard mother and her lime-green young ones who entertained us with their playing on the desert rocks. We did not see any scorpions, though we did shake out our boots each morning. Nor did we see any Roadrunners, though one was reported in a parking lot in Palm Springs.
Some of the birds we saw were: Northern Mockingbird, Lesser Nighthawk, Golden Eagle, Black-throated Sparrow, Inca Dove, Cliff Swallow, Common Raven, Steller's or Scrub Jay (we couldn't be sure which), many hummingbirds, and Phainopepla, which loves the pink salmon desert mistletoe berries as a source of food and water.
Best of all by far was the Gambel's Quail. It has a hawk-like call but is not at all hawk-like. This plumed seed-eater loves mistletoe berries and is partial to bottomlands where thorny shrubs like the mesquite provide them with cover. The male has a wonderful red cap and feather. Both the male and females are plump and bustle-bottomed, almost dowdy looking. These are the most arid-adapted of the quail. They forage in morning and late afternoon, staying quiet during the heat of the day. Our first sighting was of a male singing and trying with difficulty to stand on top a spiky yucca plant.
Joshua Tree National Park covers over 800,000 acres of high desert and oasis. We can't wait to go back!
BBC Visits the Baltimore Zoo
It's Saturday, March 24 and who are these strange people peering through binoculars at the birds and elephants of the Baltimore Zoo? It's none other than a 14 person contingent from the BBC out to see some behind the scenes action at the zoo. Steve Sarro, the curator of birds, took the group on a interesting, informative, and witty tour stopping first at a waterfowl area and breeding facility. We learned how the zoo breeds indigenous and exotic ducks and saw unusual and beautiful waterfowl such as the Rosy Billed Shelduck and the White-winged Wood Duck from Asia. Next we went inside Rock Island, the home of the zoo's South African penguins, a colony of approximately 80 birds. It was a rare opportunity to see the downy penguin chicks who after 3 weeks learning to be penguins with their mothers, were adjusting to their new life with humans. Steve showed us the nesting box area where he presented personal penguin tales and facts about the Species Survival Plan for these birds. As we listened to Steve, suddenly the flock made a mad dash outside for lunch call and we went back out to watch them. Inside the Raptor Garden the docents who handle the hawks, falcons, and owls presented the history and characteristics of the individual birds. Lastly, we headed to the Animal Embassy which houses the animals that the zoo uses for educational purposes such as school visits. The collection ran the gamut from amphibians and snakes to cute and cuddly skunks and chinchillas. Let us not forget chicken George and the macaws, toucan and Kookaburra who laughed along with our personal docent. It appeared that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the tour and many thanks go to Steve Sarro and the zoo education department for arranging the tour.
Dues Are Due
J. Catherine Bishop
6111 Bellona Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21212
Dues are $20 for an individual or $30 for a household. New members who joined after April 30, 2000, and paid a full year's dues at that time, have already paid for the 2000-2001 membership year and do not have to pay any further dues now.
Peregrine Falcon Update: Changing of the Guard
Beauregard and Scarlett produced the first known peregrine hatching in the Eastern wild in over 30 years. Beauregard had many mates over the years, outliving all but Artemis. Last year, sadly, Beauregard did not appear at mating time and, at age 26, had to be presumed dead.
The current unnamed male first appeared in May 2000. He is banded and has been identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as hatching on the National Cathedral in Washington five years ago.
Marylanders Take Ohio's Crane Creek by Storm
Crane Creek, west of Port Clinton, Ohio on Lake Erie's southwestern shore is what's left of a 3000 square mile wetland that at one time covered most of Northern Ohio. Even after hundreds of years the birds still rest and refuel at this hot spot. During the week of May 14-19 there were at least eighteen MOS members roaming about the creek's boardwalks and observing an amazing variety of birds.
Baltimore County alone had 9 gleeful birders racking up 123 species, 23 of them warblers. Some favorites were a Sora with chicks, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Mourning Warblers, and a Kirtland's Warbler that hadn't left for Michigan yet. Best of all the sightings were frequently up close and personal.
Baltimore Bird Club Members that were sighted: Ruth Culbertson, Gail Frantz, Ray and Shirley Geddes, Josie Gray, Dot Gustafson, Georgia and Dan McDonald, Bea Nicholls, Catherine Pinckard with her husband, Jean Worthley and her family.
Field Trip Reports
Compiled by Steve Sanford
March 20 - Lake Roland - 21 people joined the first trip of the spring Lake Roland series, and saw 35 species of birds including Gadwall, Wood Duck, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Myrtle Warbler. Leader Adelaide Rackemann
March 24 - Baltimore Zoo - See the separate article by Nancy Meier.
March 27 - Lake Roland - The weather was wintry on this first Lake Roland trip in what was officially spring with temperatures only 32-40°. The 14 participants "got really good looks at Gold-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Phoebes" per leader Chris Manning, as well as Yellow-rumped ("Myrtle") Warbler for a total of 35 species.
April 3 - Lake Roland - The species count rose to 45 as temperatures rose to 45°. Highlights were "Pine Warblers seen very close and low down, many Gold-crowned Kinglets, one beautiful Eastern Bluebird male in spring plumage, our Barred Owl, and the first Northern Rough-winged Swallows of the season" according to leader Patsy Perlman. 22 participants.
April 5 - Cylburn Nature Walk - On this beautiful day we enjoyed attendance equaling the total of 4 April walks last year. I was very pleased to share experiences and ideas with this enthusiastic group. 22 of the 28 attendees were not members of either of the sponsoring organizations, so it is a good opportunity for potential new members. There were not as many flowers as last year probably due to the colder winter. We discussed various flowers, trees, insects, and birds. Many non-birders were pleased to see a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker for the first time. 11 bird species. Weather: Clear and sunny, 60°. Leader: Chris Manning.
April 10 - Lake Roland - Spring inexorably marched on in lock step. The species count crept up to 50 as the temperature crept up to 50° and cloudy. The highlights were "a multitude of Pine Warblers near the dike area - estimated around 50" . Other signs of the advance of spring were Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Palm Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat. The lake featured Blue-winged Teal and Ring-necked Duck. 19 participants. Leader Matilda Weiss.
April 12 - Cylburn Nature Walk - 13 people, including some new faces, turned out despite the heavy overcast skies following rain prior to the walk. Flowers which were blooming today and not last week included: Dutchman's breeches, trout lily, Virginia bluebells, wood poppy, wood anemone, lesser celandine, toad trillium, twinleaf, wild ginger. Another Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was well seen by all. 17 bird species. Leader: Chris Manning
April 17 - Lake Roland - The temperature dropped down to 30-40° (sunny) but the species count rose to 53. "Ruby-crowned Kinglets were everywhere flashing their headlights. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers arrived in force, probably 15 to 20, 14 Chipping Sparrows on the hillside along with Palm Warbler and a pair of Bluebirds - 8 Blue-winged Teal on upper lake and a great look at Northern Parula." 14 participants. Leader: Shirley Geddes.
April 19 - Cylburn Nature Walk - This nice spring morning started out with the temperature near 32° rising to 40°. The 11 participants found 27 bird species including Palm Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo, and a variety of blooming flowers such as little brown jug, rue anemone, May apple, lesser celandine, toad trillium, marsh marigold, foam flower, Jack-in-the-pulpit, bleeding heart, wood poppy, wild ginger, Confederate violets, and trout lilly. Leader: Chris Manning.
April 24 - Lake Roland - Things were starting to cook with the temperature reaching about 75° and sunny and 63 species including 8 warbler species with the highlight being two Prothonotary Warblers. 21 participants. Leader Debbie Terry
April 26 - Cylburn Nature Walk - 14 participants found 17 bird species including Cedar Waxwings which were life-birds for some. The focus was on blooming flowers such as shooting stars, little brown jug, bleeding heart, foam flower, wild ginger, golden ragwort, garlic mustard, spring beauty, cut-leaved toothwort, and blue phlox. Weather: clear and 45°. Leader: Chris Manning.
April 28 - Liberty Dam Trail - This trip was led by Paul Noell with 19 warbler-hungry participants. The highlights were great close-up looks at a singing Worm-eating Warbler (about 100 yards up the trail) and one or two Yellow-throated Warblers (along the entry road as usual). Black-and-white Warblers and Parula Warblers were numerous. A few good heard-only birds were Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, and Cerulean Warbler. 7 warbler species overall. 54 species. Sunny, somewhat breezy, about 65°.
April 29 - Birding Granite I - 24 participants joined this strenuous birding hike. One was reported to have said "I'm beyond pain," but good birding and good company in this western corner of Baltimore County made it worthwhile. Highlights included Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-Winged Warbler, Northern Parula, Prairie Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Yellow-Throated Vireo. Many of the good birds were seen from the Old Court Road bridge over the Patapsco. 63 Species (10 warblers). Weather: Clear 40°-65°. Leader: Keith Eric Costley
May 1 - Lake Roland - The lateness of migration was still evident, but definite progress was being made. Baltimore Orioles had arrived in force all over the lake and were really singing away. A Barred Owl in the open park area just up the hill from the falls was quite visible. There were 10 warbler species, mainly resident species, and mainly pretty far back in the woods, which is where some singing Wood Thrushes were finally found as well as one well-seen Scarlet Tanager. There were a fair number of shorebirds that were hard to ID because of the sun angle and lack of a scope (It's about a mile from the parking lot.) but seemed to be mainly Solitary Sandpipers, with a few Spotteds and Lesser Yellowlegs. Also a Caspian Tern flew by. Still no Indigo Buntings or Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Carol Schreter spotted a single male Bobolink. 28 participants. 78 species with 11 warbler species. Weather: Sunny, 65 to 70°. Leader: Dot Gustafson.
May 5 - Milford Mill - The Baltimore Bird Club's field trip to Milford Mill Park near (Liberty Rd and the Beltway) with an extension to Powell's Run Rd (off Marriottsville Rd) garnered 11 species of warblers at the park with the extension adding 4 more species for a total of 15. Non-resident warbler species were very scarce. Normally the total for the two spots would be closer to 20. (Species total 64)
The highlight at the park was a singing Summer Tanager, first picked up by Pete Webb's sharp ears, then seen well. This is only about a mile from Pete's house where he had one in the yard about a week ago. There were several Scarlet Tanagers well-seen too. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were sadly absent. The group heard a singing Hooded Warbler where the trail turns around. When the bird was finally spotted - woops! - it was actually a Magnolia Warbler. Further back up the trail though another singing Hooded/Magnolia was finally confirmed to be a real Hooded Warbler. It seems the only difference between the songs was that the real Hooded was a lot louder, even at a distance. A few Redstarts finally showed up. At Powell's Run Road, at least one Yellow-breasted Chat had arrived, as well as Prairie Warbler, and both orioles. And, finally, Indigo Bunting. Weather: Partly cloudy, 70-75°. 29 participants. Leader: Lenny Marcus.
May 8 - Lake Roland - The scarceness of migrants this spring was still apparent this day, but five - yes, five Barred Owls were consolation, with three visible at one time, one heard in another area, and a youngster scrounged up by Paul Noell. One of the traditional Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, an extremely handsome one, finally was present at the falls, along with a Black-crowned Night-Heron, and a Green Heron. Other highlights: Lots of Baltimore Orioles, and one or two Orchards; few warblers with Black-throated Blue Warbler and Myrtle Warbler as the only migrants; Solitary Sandpiper, Warbling Vireo; 1 fleeting Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Weather: Mostly sunny and cool, 50-65. 70 species with 9 warbler species. 26 participants. Leader: Ruth Culbertson.
May 13 - Soldiers Delight - Leader Joe McDaniel writes: "For a windy day we were pleased to get a fair number of sightings but it was definitely a 'birding by ear' day. One special sighting was an orange variant Scarlet Tanager. A frustration was hearing, but not seeing a Prairie Warbler. A highlight was watching a Sharp-shinned Hawk stoop on something. We lost sight as it went below the tree line but were thrilled to see the bird dive with wings folded." 12 participants. 47 species (9 warblers). Weather: Windy, sunny, 70°.
May 15 - Lake Roland - "We all reveled in a great spring birding day!" writes leader Patsy Perlman. Highlights included Magnolia Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a flock of Bobolinks flying over the dam, and quite a few shorebirds, including Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpipers, and Lesser Yellowlegs. 69 species (12 warblers). 19 participants. Weather was in the 60's, and sunny.
May 22 - Lake Roland - Highlights were 3 Wood Ducks, and the constant song of Veeries. 65 species (9 warblers). 14 participants. Cloudy and overcast with temps in the 60's to 70's. Leader: Josie Gray
May 27 - Owings Mills Wetland - This surprising little birding treasure-trove is across the street from Owings Mills Mall, of all places, and must be the Willow Flycatcher capital of central Maryland. An Alder Flycatcher, found near the AmeriSuite Hotel, was the highlight of the seven flycatcher species found. It was heard by all, recognized by few, and viewed for a short time by Carol Schreter. There were roughly a dozen Willow Flycatchers. The entire group had a great look at a couple of Yellow-Breasted Chats in the final moments of the walk. In addition to the Chats (4), six other warbler species were found: Yellow, Magnolia, Blackpoll, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and American Redstart. The small trees in the mall parking lot allowed some unusually good looks at the abundant Blackpolls. A late, singing White-Throated Sparrow was heard, and both Orioles were seen: three plumages of Orchard and two of Baltimore. 67 species overall. 14 participants. Leader: Keith Eric Costley
June 2 - Day's Cove - Coordinator Bea Nicholls writes: "In spite of driving through a deluge to get to Days Cove, 11 birders hiked through a variety of habitats to see 59 species. We were greeted by two mature Bald Eagles perched in a dead snag, which could be seen from the entrance road and parking lot. Also, there were several sightings of mature Bald Eagles flying overhead as well as a prolonged opportunity to study an immature eagle in flight. Another highlight of the trip was both seeing and hearing a gorgeous Prothonotary Warbler. There were Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants in abundance, and both Mute and Tundra Swans. This was a great trip and the BBC thanks leader Glenn Swiston for giving so generously of his time and expertise to make it happen."
June 3 - Jones Falls - Leader Brian Rollfinke writes: "A lovely morning exploring little-known birding spots near TV Hill in Baltimore City. Highlights included numerous Baltimore Orioles, with an excellent look at a male bringing food to an active nest, several male Indigo Buntings, Yellow Warblers, and very cooperative Cedar Waxwings, one of whom landed on the trail in front of us. We were treated to very close looks at 4 species of flycatcher: Acadian, Great-crested, Willow, and Eastern Kingbird. While the Jones Falls Wood Ducks, which had been seen earlier in the week, did not appear, we did get quick glimpses of both a Great Blue Heron and a Black-crowned Night-Heron." 46 species. 15 participants. Weather: mixed sun and clouds, 65-70°.
June 16 - Dickcissels and Field Birds - The weather was predicted to be pretty rainy, but nevertheless 8 participants decided to go for it anyway. Well - the forecast was right. It rained most of the time, often quite hard. Nevertheless, the group enjoyed nice looks at singing Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows on Oland Road in Frederick County. At Lily Pons the hoped-for Least Bitterns did not show up, but a variety of other birds were some compensation, such as a singing Willow Flycatcher close up, Belted Kingfishers, and Great Egrets and Green Herons. The hoped-for Dickcissels on Cap Stine Road also did not manifest themselves. At that point the trip was terminated as the rains became quite solid. Leader Pete Webb was last seen returning to Lily Pons with Paul Noell to partake of Chilean cuisine being offered as part of "Lily Pons Days" despite the rain.
June 17 - Birding Granite II - Leader Keith Eric Costley writes: "We listed eight warbler species: Blue-Winged, Prairie, Prothonotary, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-Breasted Chat. 1/3 of the birds counted were identified by song or call notes. Trip highlights: Blue-Winged Warbler possible nest site, Prairie Warbler singing from a phone line at close range, and a Red-Shouldered Hawk, carrying a snake, flew over the group in the last few minutes of the trip." 61 species. 6 participants. Weather: 70-85 degrees clear to partly cloudy.
The Cylburn Sunday Trips
What a difference a season makes! While one would expect the same old thing, Cylburn is still full of changes. For the three birders that ventured out on this first day of Daylight Saving Time, Cylburn was different. A backhoe was digging up the drive by the Mansion House in order to install new plumbing. Some of the downed trees by Fern Glen have been cut down to size. A Scout Troop built a bridge by the bog and constructed a stick-like dam below the bog. So, on this overcast day, there was a lot to see. Birds!!! Did someone what to know about the birds! Even though the temperature was in the 40's, 23 species of birds were seen. Fly-overs by Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, and Canada Geese were noted. Woodpeckers were out and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was seen. We had great views of a Carolina Wren, White-throated and Song Sparrows, a White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. However, the thrill of this walk was a Bluebird on the Circle Trail!!! The daffodils have already started to bloom and Cylburn is galloping into Spring. Come fly away with us on a Cylburn Birding Adventure!
April 15, 2001
With the sun shining and temperatures in the 50's, the birders came out in force and so did the birds. Thirty-six species of birds hit the list of the ten birders that visited the Arboretum. Osprey, Loons, Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were the special birds that topped our list. However, the beautiful blooms of the Arboretum were the things to see. The Magnolia trees were showing their big purple flowers and daffodils were a splendid yellow. The Virginia Bluebells and Dutchman's Britches were in bloom along the path, showing us that Spring had arrived at Cylburn.
April 22, 2001
With many tulips blooming and temperature in the 60's, this was a perfect day for birding. One of the most astounding aspects of the walk was that for the first 45 minutes all the human participants were males. Just as we were about to break out the beer and cigars, a young lady from California, in town for a job interview, showed up to pull us back into line. The birding was a little slow but she helped us appreciate what we had by getting 8 life-birds, including a Wood Thrush and Veery. We went all the way to the bottom of the maintenance road, which had many of the best birds of the day.
These were some of the featured species, with life-birds for our California visitor marked with an asterisk: *Broad-winged Hawk, *Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Rough-winged Swallow, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Scads of them!), *Wood Thrush, *Veery (first of the season), Catbird, *Blue-headed Vireo, *Prairie Warbler, Ovenbird, N. Parula, an early Northern Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler - 2 engaging in a singing duel, Yellowthroat, and Myrtle Warbler.
Our eight birders ended the day with 40 species of birds, daffodils, may apples, and toad trilliums in bloom in the Fern Glen area of the Arboretum, and the knowledge that we have helped another birder increase her bird list and enjoy the wonders of Cylburn.
(By Steve Sanford & Joseph Lewandowski)
April 29, 2001
This was a typical spring day with temperatures in the 40's and climbing to the 60's. With the sun out, ten birders walked the Arboretum, taking in the sights. This was a high species count for us today. 52 species hit the lists and it was a good day for warblers. Yellow-rumped Warbler, Parula Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and a Black-throated Blue Warbler were the hits of the day. These, in addition to the Baltimore Oriole, Kestrel, Cooper's Hawk, and Solitary Sandpiper, made for an excellent birding adventure.
May 6, 2001
Weekend temperatures seem to run on the cool side as four birders braved a sunny, windy, cool morning. Cylburn has not been a hot spot for warblers this season and today was no exception. Out of the 34 species of birds seen, the Yellow-rumped Warbler was the only warbler spotted. We did hear a Yellow Warbler and a Parula Warbler on our walk. Red-tailed Hawks were kiting in the sky around the Mansion and we did spot a Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, and a flock of Cedar Waxwings. By the water, we saw the Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers and a Greater Yellowlegs; the Yellowlegs being a not too common species at the Arboretum. Diversity seems to be the name of the game for birds here in Northwest Baltimore.
May 13, 2001
The wind has blown the blooms off the tulips and the cool, windy, sunny weather seems to dominate our Spring. For the seven birders that walked the grounds of Cylburn, they were used to the 50-degree temperature and were rewarded with 43 species of birds seen. A hummingbird, Great-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wood Thrush, Arcadian Flycatcher, Veery, and Blackpoll Warbler were just some of the birds seen on this day. However, special treats waited in store for us. We saw some great views of Baltimore Orioles and saw the nest of an oriole. Two Least Sandpipers were along the water's edge and a short view of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak topped our day. As usual, every turn of the trail leads to a new natural wonder at Cylburn.
May 20, 2001
Spring has had its ups and downs for the birders at Cylburn. Neither the weather nor the birds have cooperated and we have not seen the great flock migrations that we have seen in the past. This mild spring day started off sunny, but turned overcast rapidly for the seven birders today. Fifty-one species topped our list today, but nothing really stood out. Blackpoll Warbler, Indigo Bunting, both orioles, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Spotted and Solitary Sandpiper, Great-crested Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Northern Parula Warbler, and Yellow Warbler were some of the birds seen on our trip. As a regular to Cylburn, many species become old friends rapidly. The birds we did see were good, but we all expect to see the unusual find. Maybe next week will be that special one for the Arboretum. The gardens are rapidly declining, a sure sign that summer is near.
May 27, 2001
Another overcast day greeted us on this, the last field trip to Cylburn this Spring. It may have been the weather, but only two birders showed up to close out the season. Thirty-four species were seen this day and the only species of note were Wood Ducks, a Scarlet Tanager, and a Pileated Woodpecker. Even the sandpipers that were regulars at Cylburn were not present. However, we did see our old favorites. Catbirds, Cowbirds, Barn Swallows, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers helped us enjoy the day. As with the changing seasons, Cylburn also changes. So often this Spring, we have seen that fronts, weather patterns, and temperature makes the blossoms fall faster and the birds miss Cylburn as a stopover in their migration. Maybe Fall will be better, till then; we can only wait and see.
From Scott Crabtree, Bob Ringler, and Steve Sanford
May 19 - Birders at Fort McHenry, led by Jim Peters were thrilled to see a sleeping Chuck-Will's-Widow perched on the maintenance yard fence, tucked in next to some honeysuckle. Other good birds included Least and Willow Flycatchers seen in enough proximity to be able to really compare and contrast them.
May 27 - BBC birders doing a routine survey of Leakin Park spotted a high-flying Mississippi Kite. When a Cooper's Hawk made a pass at the kite it went into a stoop, dropping rapidly in altitude and providing a much better view before disappearing behind trees.
June 23 - Scott Crabtree led about 18 Baltimore birders on a "Penurious Pelagic" trip on the public cruise boat from Point Lookout to Smith Island. There were multiple sightings of the main target, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, providing a life-bird or state-bird for most of the participants. The first Storm-Petrel was about three miles out from the point, and was very close for those who caught it zipping by. Then there were about 7 halfway across amongst fishing boats, and one or two more a little further on. This may be made into a scheduled field trip next year.
Postcard from Lapland
I'm now in Lapland, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. There is 3 feet of snow on the ground, but already the day is 18 hours long, giving plenty of time for birding. I had two target birds this trip: the Siberian Jay, which I had missed on a previous trip, but saw several this time; and Steller's Eiders, which winter in the 1000's in the Arctic Ocean at Varangerfjord, Norway. I saw almost 1000 eiders, half (the males!) in beautiful nesting plumage with bright cinnamon bellies. Other interesting birds seen were 2 more lifers: Willow Ptarmigan (my first-ever ptarmigan species!) and Black Grouse. Also lots of Bohemian Waxwings, Siberian Tits (chickadees to us in the USA) and alcids: Common, Thick-billed Murres and Black Guillemots.
Best - Hank Kaestner
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
Our little lake, which is really a pond, attracts a score of Mallards during the winter but we also have a pair of Widgeon that have been wintering there for the last five years. The pair, which I presume are the same ducks each year, keep close together and manage to protect a small bit of water (about three feet) for themselves. This winter the female had an injured foot but the birds survived the season and flew off to unknown places about two weeks ago.
Update: Triumph and tragedy! All 11 eggs hatched Thursday night or Friday morning (5/18), and the mother duck successfully walked them all down to the "lakes" in the center strip of Springlake Way by 10:30 a.m. (I was at work.) All 11 were fine Friday night and Saturday morning -- zooming around, hopping on their mother's back, etc. By Saturday evening, there was only one, and by Sunday morning, none. I can't find anyone who knows what happened. I did see them eating corn someone put out on a plank that slanted into the water. Can a day-old chick digest raw corn? Maybe it killed them. Or a predator got in the water via the plank. The parent couple just swims round and round in the pond. I was prepared for attrition but not annihilation.
Later, along Wetheredsville Rd., I thought I had a sparrow of some sort, rustling the dry grass at roadside. When I got closer, it turned out to be a bat. Now, I know we have Little Brown, and Big Brown Myotises, and Eastern Pipistrelles (smallest Eastern bat) around here, but they're brown, and this bat was all black, with longish silver hair on its back. When I got home I checked Peterson's Mammals, and it turned out to be a Silver-haired Bat. I'd never even heard of them before, much less thought they'd be in MD. It didn't seem to be well, and a woman who happened by took it -her husband said she rescued animals all the time, and had a place to take it.
Druid Hill Park
And on April 14: There were three in the tree today. I cannot differentiate gender but there was some activity that suggested courting behavior so we surmise that there may be two males and a female. Another possibility is that one of the three is a returning chick.
Less sure was I as I sped west on the Baltimore Beltway on the 15th of March at 2 pm. Out of the corner of my right eye I saw what flashed through my mind as a Brant, standing tall in a shallow impoundment of water west of Greenspring Ave. Not being able to stop (an understatement) an hour later, on the way back, I sought out that intersection, turned off the Beltway and headed west again. I couldn't even find the impoundment much less the bird. I have seen Brant even further inland during migration, so feel that a tall, goose-necked black bird with a small white splotch on its neck, waddling in shallow water could be a Brant.
Loch Raven Reservoir
However, to top this, while cycling on Sunday, 2/17 at about 1 p.m. I saw 1 eagle perched, then take off and soar over the dam to be joined by 2 others and I witnessed 3 adult Bald Eagles soaring above the dam and all were within one field of view with my binoculars. To say the least I was amazed. After watching until they soared off I then continued my ride leaving the dam to go towards the Providence Road section and as I turned the bend to climb a short hill I saw an adult Red-tailed Hawk chasing a Crow. The Crow dropped what appeared to be a wad of suet. The Redtail landed in a small tree on the side of the road and I stopped within 20 feet. I observed for 15 minutes as the hawk jumped from branch to branch and tree to tree. It was very interested in the piece of suet but eventually left empty taloned.
This winter I have seen lots of Black Vultures, sometimes in excess of 2 dozen & mixed in with a like number of Turkey Vultures, mainly by the lower dam.
Owings Mills Mall
Milford Mill Park, Randallstown
Anne Arundel County
Let us hear about your Back Yard and Maryland Birding too!!!
Call or write to:
13955 Old Hanover Rd.
Reisterstown MD 21136