The Shorebird Showdown
By Scott Crabtree
1427 Hours, Monday, 14 May 2001: I send an e-mail to a number of BBC birders proposing an impromptu field trip to the Delaware Eastern shore on 20 May and invite recipients to spread the word.
0600 Hours. Sunday, 20 May 2001. Going over the equipment checklist. Late May on the Delaware coast? It's going to be hot, muggy, buggy - better come prepared.
Cooler filled with ice. Liters of drinking water. Other cold drinks. Gallon of insect repellent. Breakfast and Lunch. Optics. (flashback to Steve S.) Light-weight clothing. Breathable shoes. Fleece pull-over. Leave behind. Gore-tex jacket. Throw it in. What the heck.
0703 Hours. Hammond's Ferry Park and Ride. We peel out, heading into the rising sun. Gil Myers, Dr. Denise Bayuszik (the expedition's surgeon), Professor Paul and Elise Kreiss, Gail Frantz, and myself. Grim-visaged and determined, we're heading for ... the Shorebird Showdown.
0915 Hours. We arrived at the turnoff for the first impoundment on Port Mahon Rd. (For future reference, the turnoff to the right is now closed to vehicles. There's a parking lot across the street in which you are asked to park.) It's 58 degrees, and there's a 25 knot wind coming in off the bay. Everyone scrambles for something warm to wear. We walk over to the bluff on the impoundment, and are struck by the full force of the wind as we struggle to set up telescopes and hold binoculars steady. Not a bug or a mosquito, but there are shorebirds and terns....everywhere.
1000 Hours. Bayside, Port Mahon Rd. If the tide has gone down a bit by now, you can't tell. The easterly wind has really piled the breakers up on the shoreline such that there is almost no beach. And the shorebirds are ....everywhere. And close - no telescope needed. We first bird from the car, and then on foot. Ruddy Turnstones in every stage of pre-alternate molt. Short-billed Dowitchers and Willets are all over the place in their breeding best. The usually dumpy gray Knot is truly the Red Knot with its soft gray plumage above and salmon color below. In binoculars, you can the see the anchor-shaped black markings in the scapulars - as long as you aren't shivering. Black-and-red Dunlin are everywhere, as are the Semi-palm and Least Sandpipers. A couple of Westerns, a Sanderling, an occasional Black-necked Stilt (how do they stand up in this wind?) and a few Semi-palm Plovers round it out.
1215 Hours. Bombay Hook Visitors Center picnic tables. We break for lunch, sitting out in the cold wind. Just what we needed - lots of cold drinks from the cooler! One trip member is complaining about the leader not providing hot tea. She shall remain nameless, but if you look over the list, you can probably pick her out. The leader is subjected to statements of joy over the quality of the birds, and is roundly berated for the weather and his lack of planning abilities thereunto. There is much muttering about negative feedback on the Trip Evaluation Form. He is forced to share his potato chips.
1245 Hours. Raymond Pool Observation Tower and the Boardwalk. This place is crawling with warblers. Everywhere you look, they're darting, faster than usual, males and females, actively feeding. There are Blackpolls, Magnolias, a Black and White and a Parula; some Black-throated Blues and Redstarts, lots of Yellows, a Canada, and quick glimpses of Chestnut-sided and Kentucky. The usual Marsh Wrens, Swamp Sparrows, a distant Stilt Sandpiper, and good close looks at Seaside Sparrows scurrying about in the marsh.
1515 Hours. Raymond Pool. We've scanned most of it, and come up with little more than Short-billed Dowitchers - about half the world's biomass of Short-billed Dowitchers! But the rain is starting, and we decided to beat the hasty retreat.
So, I'm not sure who won the Showdown - maybe it was the weather. We had a great day with 79 species.
1. Introducing the BBC Conservation Alert
The BBC Conservation Committee is about to start a BBC Conservation Alert system. We will begin by e-mail. We plan to send several messages a year inviting members to take appropriate action on issues of import.
Please let us know by e-mail if you do not wish to be part of the BBC Conservation Alert system by contacting Dot Gustafson at
2. Take Action Now.
As of September 10, the House of Representatives has already voted in favor, by a narrow margin, of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and drilling, and to energy development in the Rocky Mountains and Red Rock Wildlands in Wyoming. If you have not expressed yourself before, do so now.
It is vital that our senators hear from us. There has been significant opposition, so the Senate vote has been stalled. Call or write immediately. The vote is expected soon. When you call or write, it is best to provide your name, address and phone number.
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Paul Sarbanes
The MOS conference held Aug 10, 11, and 12 at Salisbury University was a great success and was enjoyed by over 260 people from though-out the state, including 10 from BBC. The accommodations were comfortable and the food was a delight - a very good deal. Many interesting places were visited including ponds, a sod farm, two bay areas - Chesapeake and Sinepuxent, and marshes along the way. Boats to Tangier/Smith Island and Assateague Island, slowly cruising these waters, allowed all to see and study many different birds and other wild life. The grand total of species counted was 161, with an Upland Sandpiper a real highlight and life bird for me.
The Keynote speakers were Don and Lillian Stokes, speaking about their new book, and many helpful hints in identifying birds. Both are very knowledgeable, nice people, and were just what the doctor ordered for the many new "fledglings" or first-year birders at the conference including the kids from Chestertown, MD, that had won the World Series of Birding in NJ.
The Art Exhibit featured the bird-related work of artists residing in of Maryland. These artists displayed many wonderful interests and techniques, showing fine-tuned knowledge of birds and plant life.
We look forward to the conference at Wisp at Deep Creek in June next year.
Patterson Park Lunch Break Effect
Keith Costley devotes most of his lunch breaks to birding in Baltimore city, and frequently reports his observations on Maryland Osprey, the Maryland Internet birding e-mail discussion group:
During his lunch break on May 24th Keith found a Common Moorhen (aka Common Gallinule) in the pond at Patterson Park in Baltimore city. This is a species that is quite uncommon in Maryland, so to find it in a busy park was a special treat. Keith and other birders returned on subsequent days to check up on it. On May 30 Keith saw a Sora! He continued to see it and one or two more there until at least June 12. This species, while technically more common in Maryland, mainly in migration through remote marshlands, was perhaps an even better find due to its normally secretive nature.
Postcard from Australia
June 11, 2001
I made good use of transit stops in Australia on the way to and from New Guinea.
First I had a half-day in Cairns where I had a great close encounter with a Southern Cassowary. I was almost able to touch a tame, curious male.
Then one week later I transited through Brisbane. I rented a car and drove 1000 kilometers (600 miles) west into the outback. The 9 hour drive each way was half at night, and it was dangerous with so many stupid Kangaroos on the road. My effort resulted in 5 new species for my list: Hall's Babbler, Chestnut-chested Quail-Thrush, Spotted Bowerbird, and a mixed flock of Yellow and Crimson Chats. Most spectacular was a roosting flock of 10,000 Galahs, which are handsome pink and gray cockatoos.
May Count 2000
We now have the figures for the May 2000 May Count for Baltimore City and County. Yes, we mean 2000, not 2001( which was in the August 2001 issue of Chip Notes.) Better late than never!
The star species was a Mississippi Kite seen by the Cylburn party (as reported in detail in the October 2000 issue of Chip Notes). An Olive-sided Flycatcher seen by the Leakin Park party was a close runner-up. Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes and Avocets at Hart-Miller were certainly notable too.
Many thanks to our counters: Mary Jo Campbell, Don Culbertson, Bill Balfour, Alice Bender, Jeanne Bowman, Martin Brazeau, Anne Brooks, Brent Byers, Mary Byers, Keith Costley, Scott Crabtree, Ralph Cullison, JoAnn Dreyer, Muffin Evander, Gail Frantz, Ray Geddes, Shirley Geddes, Kevin Graff, Lisa Groff, Josie Gray, Dot Gustafson, David Holmes, Kye Jenkins, Sukon Kanchanaraksa, Elliot Kirschbaum, Nancy Kirschbaum, John Landers, Joan Linthicum, Joe Linthicum, Michele Melia, Jim Meyers, Sharon Morell, Gil Myers, Bea Nicholls, Paul Noell, Patsy Perlman, Jim Peters, Mac Plant, Roger Redden, Bob Rineer, Steve Sanford, Steve Sarro, Jean Sawers, Gene Scarpulla, Carol Schreter, Don Stokes, Lillian Stokes, Scott Soud, Julie Tomita, Pete Webb, Matilda Weiss.
COMMON LOON 4 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT 121 GREAT BLUE HERON 100 GREAT EGRET 2 TRICOLORED HERON 1 CATTLE EGRET 24 GREEN HERON 2 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON 8 GLOSSY IBIS 8 MUTE SWAN 2 CANADA GOOSE 403 WOOD DUCK 21 AMERICAN BLACK DUCK 8 MALLARD 218 BLUE-WINGED TEAL 3 GADWALL 3 LESSER SCAUP 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER 3 RUDDY DUCK 1 BLACK VULTURE 2 TURKEY VULTURE 65 OSPREY 24 MISSISSIPPI KITE 2 BALD EAGLE adult 1 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK 1 COOPER'S HAWK 2 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK 7 BROAD-WINGED HAWK 3 RED-TAILED HAWK 13 AMERICAN KESTREL 5 PEREGRINE FALCON 2 RING-NECKED PHEASANT 1 WILD TURKEY 2 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER 132 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER 39 KILLDEER 29 AMERICAN AVOCET 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS 98 SOLITARY SANDPIPER 10 WILLET 3 SPOTTED SANDPIPER 45 RUDDY TURNSTONE 2 SANDERLING 1 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER 785 LEAST SANDPIPER 133 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER 3 DUNLIN 245 STILT SANDPIPER 4 WILSON'S PHALAROPE 1 RED-NECKED PHALAROPE 1 RING-BILLED GULL 360 HERRING GULL 2015 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL 1 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL 194 GULL SP. 1 CASPIAN TERN 228 ROYAL TERN 2 COMMON TERN 2 FORSTER'S TERN 2 LEAST TERN 6 ROCK DOVE 192 MOURNING DOVE 177 YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO 8 EASTERN SCREECH-OWL 1 BARRED OWL 6 COMMON NIGHTHAWK 8 WHIP-POOR-WILL 4 CHIMNEY SWIFT 134 RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 18 BELTED KINGFISHER 7 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER 107 DOWNY WOODPECKER 26 HAIRY WOODPECKER 9 NORTHERN FLICKER 33 PILEATED WOODPECKER 7 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER 1 EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE 59 ACADIAN FLYCATCHER 81 WILLOW FLYCATCHER 3 EMPIDONAX SP. 2 EASTERN PHOEBE 36 GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER 39 EASTERN KINGBIRD 74 HORNED LARK 6 PURPLE MARTIN 9 TREE SWALLOW 63 N ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW 31 BANK SWALLOW 21 CLIFF SWALLOW 98 BARN SWALLOW 189 BLUE JAY 81 AMERICAN CROW 267 FISH CROW 26 CROW Sp. 33 CAROLINA CHICKADEE 65 TUFTED TITMOUSE 111 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH 13 CAROLINA WREN 80 HOUSE WREN 68 MARSH WREN 17 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET 1 BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER 93 EASTERN BLUEBIRD 46 VEERY 26 GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH 1 SWAINSON'S THRUSH 30 WOOD THRUSH 146 AMERICAN ROBIN 357 GRAY CATBIRD 343 NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD 116 BROWN THRASHER 17 CEDAR WAXWING 230 EUROPEAN STARLING 507 WHITE-EYED VIREO 47 SOLITARY VIREO 1 YELLOW-THROATED VIREO 13 WARBLING VIREO 18 RED-EYED VIREO 241 TENNESSEE WARBLER 3 NASHVILLE WARBLER 2 NORTHERN PARULA 66 YELLOW WARBLER 92 CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER 10 MAGNOLIA WARBLER 36 CAPE MAY WARBLER 3 BLACK-THRT BLUE WARBLER 22 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER 38 BLACK-THRT GREEN WARBLER 14 BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER 5 YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER 2 PINE WARBLER 3 PRAIRIE WARBLER 18 BLACKPOLL WARBLER 70 CERULEAN WARBLER 2 BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER 25 AMERICAN REDSTART 58 PROTHONOTARY WARBLER 4 WORM-EATING WARBLER 9 OVENBIRD 73 NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH 8 LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH 17 KENTUCKY WARBLER 18 COMMON YELLOWTHROAT 148 HOODED WARBLER 9 WILSON'S WARBLER 7 CANADA WARBLER 21 YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT 8 SCARLET TANAGER 56 NORTHERN CARDINAL 279 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK 9 BLUE GROSBEAK 2 INDIGO BUNTING 130 EASTERN TOWHEE 49 CHIPPING SPARROW 88 FIELD SPARROW 23 SAVANNAH SPARROW 1 GRASSHOPPER SPARROW 1 SONG SPARROW 95 SWAMP SPARROW 8 WHITE-THROATED SPARROW 18 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW 1 DARK-EYED JUNCO 1 BOBOLINK 202 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD 346 EASTERN MEADOWLARK 7 COMMON GRACKLE 242 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD 90 ORCHARD ORIOLE 27 BALTIMORE ORIOLE 107 HOUSE FINCH 92 AMERICAN GOLDFINCH 228 HOUSE SPARROW 209 TOTAL SPECIES 169
Our 2001-2002 membership year began September 1, 2001. Thanks to all who paid their dues promptly. If you have not paid your dues, please forward them as promptly as possible to:
J. Catherine Bishop
6111 Bellona Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21212
If the expiration date on your mailing label is printed in red, we have not received your dues. Our regular dues, which include membership in the state organization, are $20 for an individual or $30 for a household. Members of another chapter or life members of MOS who joined after 6/11/90 pay the "chapter only" dues of $10 for an individual or $15 for household memberships.
Fort McHenry Spotlight
Fort McHenry seems to be the place to go for nightjars. As previously reported, birders enjoyed a good look at a sitting Chuck-will's-widow last May 21. On an evening walk on September 5 birders had a good close-up look at a Whip-poor-will perched in a tree above the gate to the Glenn Page Nature Trail.
This trail, on the west edge of the Fort McHenry property by the river, is of course the creation of BBC's own Jim Peters. The cover of the August 29 issue of the Baltimore City Paper featured a full-page color picture of Jim and other BBC birders at Fort McHenry with an extensive article about Jim and the creation of the wetlands preserve.
This article may be viewed online at:
Field Trip Reports
Compiled by Steve Sanford
The beginning of the 2001 fall season has been unusually rewarding, compensating for one of the slowest spring seasons in years.
August 26 - Cylburn - With the start of the fall birding season, this Sunday was not a typical fall day by any stretch of the imagination. The skies were blue, the sun was out, and the temperature was in the 80's for the eight birders who walked the gardens of Cylburn. Flowers were in bloom and it was good to see our favorite birding spot. Twenty-nine birds were on our list with the Chestnut-sided, Blue-winged, Redstart, and Black-and-white Warblers being top draws. Kingbirds, Acadian Flycatcher, Osprey, and Red-eyed Vireos were some of the other birds that were seen on this gorgeous day. With the hummingbirds enjoying the flowers, we all appreciated the show nature put on for us today. (Report by Joseph Lewandowski)
August 28 - Lake Roland - 21 eager birders showed up for the first Lake Roland trip of the season on this warm, humid, overcast day. There were 3 warblers* including a Hooded Warbler. Both Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Herons and a Caspian Tern were seen. 46 species. Leader: Adelaide Rackemann.
* Five more warbler species were turned up by Paul Noell on his solitary peregrination away from the group.
September 2 - Cylburn - What a wonderful day! Fifteen birders came out on this gorgeous day with sun, blue skies and shirt sleeve weather to bird Cylburn Arboretum. The day did not disappoint us with nine species of warbler sighted. Cape May, Canada, Common Yellowthroat, Redstart, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, and Bay-breasted Warblers made our trip list. An Olive-sided Flycatcher, Common Nighthawk, Baltimore Oriole, and Chipping Sparrow were also wonderful sightings on this day. Our total count was 33 species. It was great! Not only did a lot of birders come out to experience this day, but more eyes meant more birds and that is what we like. (Report by Joseph Lewandowski)
September 4 - Lake Roland - Leader Chris Manning writes: "On this beautiful morning with temperatures in the mid-seventies we started off with 20 participants. Good to have birding season starting again. Four species of heron, five warblers, a Barred owl, and a Pileated Woodpecker were observed. At the end of three hours, we had amassed a total of 45 species."
September 9 - Black Marsh Wildlands (North Point State Park) - 17 participants trekked around this park with marsh, woods, fields, and bay shore. The lack of a recent frontal passage was apparently responsible for a scarcity of migrant birds. 6 species of dragonfly and 10 species of butterfly got the most attention.The weather was sunny and humid in the mid-eighties. 35 bird species. Leaders: Brent and Mary Byers.
September 9 - Cylburn - The morning started off as a mild overcast and quiet day. Temperatures were in the 70's, but by 11:00 AM, the sun came out and it became hot. For the nine birders that were with us today, the early morning birding was slow and silent. The species total was 28. Hummingbirds, Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Thrush, Redstart, Black-throated Green Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Kestrel were key birds seen. However, the best bird of the day was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. This bird posed for us and gave us some spectacular views. The leaves are starting to fall in the Arboretum and it gives the realization that the summer is waning and fall is rapidly approaching. (Report by Joseph Lewandowski)
September 11- Lake Roland - Leader Paul Noell writes: "An overnight cold-front passage resulted in a very pleasant outing: clear, with light breezes and low humidity. Peak bird activity occurred early on, with a goodly number of warblers working the sunny upper reaches of the trees, resulting in a total species count of 55 with 12 warbler species, including excellent close-ups of Nashville and Bay-breasted. Most participants enjoyed their first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the fall. The usual assortment of herons was present except Great Egret. Everyone enjoyed good looks at a curiously silent Pileated Woodpecker." 21 participants.
September 16 - Cylburn - A super day! We were treated to a spectacle of at least 1500 migrating Broad-winged Hawks from about 9:30 to 11:30 AM. This tops the 900 Broadwings seen there September 26, 1999 at another Sunday walk. The first 100 or so kettled quite low so were probably over-nighting in the nearby woods. Most of the rest streamed in high, mainly east of Cylburn heading southwest, then formed kettles of 100+ about 1/2 mile south, although some were closer. The sky was very clear with light winds about 5 mph from the north to northeast. Temperature about 70°. From about 8 to 9 AM the warblers were very active behind the mansion with 6 species, and a Philadelphia Vireo, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and several heard-only Red-breasted Nuthatches. 7 participants. (Report by Steve Sanford for the unfortunately absent Joe Lewandowski)
Black Rosy-Finch at Last !
Your editor is happy to report that he finally saw the bird of his dreams: Black Rosy-Finch. Over the years I've made repeated trips to the Rocky Mountains with that as one of the main target birds, but kept missing it. Of course, the Rockies are not a bad place to have to keep returning to. Then, inspired by Catherine Pinkard's article in the October 2000 Chip Notes about her Utah birding trip last summer, I did a little research. I flew to Utah in April then drove to the Grand Tetons, but I still failed to find the little devil any where. At least I was able to add Chukar to my life list at Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. But I decided to try yet again.
On July 10 I finally saw a beautiful male Black Rosy-Finch, pretty close, at the base of Bald Mountain on the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway in northeastern Utah. Later, I fortuitously ran into Catherine's guide, Mark Stackhouse, who let me go along with his tour group to view a nesting family of Three-toed Woodpeckers at Mirror Lake.
Northeastern Utah is chock full of other good Rocky Mountain birds. It is very accessible from Salt Lake City, which is also relatively cheap and easy to fly to.
If you want to see just how happy I am about my triumph, check this on the Internet: http://www.geocities.com/bfbooby/CN-Finch.html
Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Spring
By Jim Highsaw and Linda Prentice
We spent April 24 - 26, 2001 at the Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Florida, south of Tallahassee. The birding was good and during the week there was very little traffic on the Wildlife Drive and almost no one on the trails. Outzs Oyster Bar on Route 98 and Saint Marks Grocery and Deli in the village of Saint Marks were good lunch stops.
On the first day we headed out the 7-mile Wildlife Drive to the lighthouse and soon stopped to observe a Brown Thrasher which flew across the road; after a few minutes in this spot we also had an Orchard Oriole and a Great-crested Flycatcher. After several more stops to observe birds such as Forster's Tern, Least Tern and Spotted Sandpiper in the ponds and wetlands, we reached the wooded area at the start of the Mounds Trail. The oaks and other trees in this area held a number of spring migrants, including Blackpoll Warblers, Parula Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, and a Blue-headed Vireo. Continuing on to the lighthouse, we found Black-necked Stilts, Great and Snowy Egrets, and a Redhead in the pond across from the lighthouse. After a lunch break, we walked the nature trail behind the visitor center and found a Yellow-throated Warbler, an Ovenbird and Acadian Flycatchers.
On the second day we found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and some Bobolinks near the lighthouse, and a Sora and a Clapper Rail along the Drive. A stop at the Mounds Trail produced more warblers, and a Pileated Woodpecker near the visitor center turned out to be the first one ever for a lady from Kansas. Lunch in the village of Saint Marks was a nice break.
After a third morning in the Refuge, we searched without success for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in a section of the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee; however, we did find Red-headed Woodpeckers, a Blue Grosbeak and a Bluebird. We hope to go back to find the woodpecker and explore other birding areas along the coast west of Saint Marks.
Birdwatching in Cape Cod
I had a great time birdwatching on my vacation in Cape Cod and I would like to share my experiences with you. We camped at Head of the Meadow Beach from July 27 till August 6. The greatest diversity of birds was in the Bay (Great Island), especially on low tide. There were many Whimbrels, Ruddy Turnstones and Semipalmated Plovers feeding on the exposed bottom. I also saw a few Greater Yellowlegs and Piping Plovers. Double-crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Common and Forster's terns were hunting in the shallow water. On the opposite shore of the Cape on the Atlantic shore were hundreds of Laughing Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls. Among them were thousands of Semipalmated Sandpipers. I also saw a female Common Eider.
The Atlantic was very cold. In fact, a group of seals were hunting for fish pretty close to the beach and I saw three Turkey Vultures feeding on the dead body of one unlucky seal. The Vultures let me to approach as close as 6 feet to them until they moved a little bit away. (As though to say: "This is ours, we found it first, find your own corpse!").
On the dunes I saw Tree Swallows, Goldfinches, Eastern Kingbirds and a female Horned Lark. The pine forests were abundant with species that included Pine Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, and White-breasted Nuthatch. In the bushy areas I saw Gray Catbirds, Mockingbirds, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, Common Grackles, and Song Sparrows. I also saw Great Crested Flycatchers, Brown Thrashers, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Towhees and Red-winged Blackbirds.
This past June I spent 10 days covering 1350 miles of Irish countryside with a C.I.E. tour. My main goals were seeing the beauty of Ireland and seeing some Irish birds. On both counts I was richly rewarded. In Dublin I saw my first Wood Pigeons. At Glendborgh in County Wicklow I found Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Wrens, and Wagtails; at Donegal Bay: Oystercatcher, Herons, Black-headed Gulls, Magpies, Jackdaws; Hooded Crows were everywhere; Pheasants were along the roadsides and Moorhens families in rivers and ponds; Tufted Duck in St. Stephen's Green; Rock Pipit and Cormorants near Galway; Guillemots and Kittiwakes at the cliffs of Moher; nesting House Martins outside our castle window; nesting Swallows in a Boz Village hut, and Sand Martins at the shore in Bundoran. I also spotted a Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Chaffinches, a Greenfinch, Spotted Flycatcher, Blackbirds, and other species here and there along the way. 40 species I could ID, and many more I could not. Anyone for a birding trip to Ireland? Now I know some great spots!
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:
3021 Temple Gate
Baltimore, Maryland 21209.
Back Yard Birding and Beyond
By Gail Frantz
Sudbrook Park, Pikesville area
Also of interest was a Wood Thrush symphony two evenings in a row, July 5 and 6. Several thrushes were sitting very high in mature trees, singing back and forth for hours.Usually we are blessed with their song mostly in early spring. A singing lesson for the youngsters?
Also, we have Mourning Doves nesting on the drainpipe right outside of our shower at my house. Every time I take a shower I peek my head out and look at the nest to see how they're doing. The one bird is very tame and I've gotten some great photos.
Birdwatching in Baltimore City
First is Swann Park (it's a little park next to the Hanover Street bridge, in case you are unfamiliar with it). In Friday, June 22, there were 2 Ospreys, 2 Great Egrets, a Great Blue Heron and a few Cormorants. It doesn't look like a lot of people go there so it's good for birds.
On Saturday I was canoeing (from Tide Point to Fort McHenry) so I had a close look at an osprey nest on one of the cranes in the harbor. I have also seen a colony of the Great Black-backed Gulls and a big flock of Cormorants. There are many old piers and abandoned buildings that could potentially allow for great nesting conditions for birds.
A few times I have seen a Great Blue Heron and a Black-crowned Night-Heron fishing at night in the middle of the city, standing on trash in the water. I still find it amazing how birds can adapt to city life.
The first time I noticed the birds here, I happened to be off from work for a few days at the end of May. I had my windows opened and heard some birds sounding a little upset and saw a flash of bright yellow and black pass my window. I looked out the window and saw a bright yellow/orange and black bird chasing a much larger black bird away.
After checking my bird guides, I was excited and surprised to find that the bird I had seen was a Baltimore Oriole. I kept an eye on this bird most of the day, and saw his mate and then noticed the nest hanging by the end of a few branches of trees. The nest had already been completed, so I don't know how long they had been here.
Today I finally got a good pair of binoculars. As I was looking at the brightly colored male, I noticed another bird on a branch above him chattering at him and thought it was the female. I focused my binoculars on this bird after the male flew away. At first I thought it was a different breed of bird all together. Then to my surprise and delight, I realized that this was a baby Oriole. It was able only to hop from branch to branch, and I could see that its breast was pale yellow with some orange under its neck. Before long, the male bird was back with something in its mouth which I was able to see him feed to the baby.
I think this may have been the first day it was out of the nest, because I have been keeping a close eye on the nest and have seen the male and female going in and out of the nest all week. Sometimes, I could see them poke their heads into the nest with their tales sticking out. I am not sure but I think I may have also seen another baby bird further up in the tree, this one was a paler yellow with no orange under its neck. It is amazing how well hidden in the trees these birds are, although the trees are much fuller this year because of all the rain we have had.
Incidentally, there seems to be an increase in the bird population this spring and summer. I am not sure if it has anything to do with heavier vegetation growth in the area because of more rain this year or if it could also possibly be due to the fact that when the road (702) was built it blocked access to the Marsh area between Back River Neck Road and Holly Neck. There also have been restrictions on building near the wetlands. I have seen a lot more blue heron and cranes flying up from the Marsh area this spring and summer.
I may have mentioned that Eric is a bug nut and also a collector of tadpoles, salamanders, and all the stuff that I pursued at his age. But I really think he's worse than I was - the word "obsessive" comes to mind. Well, lately his interest in birds has been piqued, not so much thanks to me but due to several nestings in our yard, the first we've ever had. Two failed Mockingbird nests and currently a Mourning Dove incubation in progress. Eric has also discovered most of the nestings around the neighborhood, and although we've admonished him about the dangers of watching them too closely he can't help but look. Unfortunately, some of the neighborhood kids are immature and lacking in good sense and still see anything that's been created as something to destroy.
I should have known something was up last Thursday evening when Eric came in from playing and hurried up to his room without a word. Then when he claimed to be tired and said goodnight early. When I later checked his room I found the heat lamp for his pet lizard "Lizzie" mysteriously on the floor and turned on. Then the next morning, on the way to school, there were questions about baby birds: Why are their heads so big, what do they eat, when do their eyes open. I still assumed he was reacting to something he had read. How dense can I be?? Later Friday evening (this was one full day after the strange behavior began) my wife went up to open Eric's windows and apparently found him acting VERY peculiarly around his bed. The next thing I knew, Debbie was screaming that I'd better get up there NOW! I dashed upstairs and looked where she was pointing. On his bed were three tiny lumps of blue-gray flesh. At first I thought they were lifeless, but then these little hatchlings began to squirm and open their mouths!
The next few minutes were a blur of inquisition interspersed with searching the phone books for some help. We may never know exactly what happened, but apparently Eric had found some of the local kids throwing balls at a Robin's nest. Somewhere along the way, rather than notify an adult, Eric took it upon himself to rescue the babies - not the wisest decision, but he thought he was doing the right thing. Why he wouldn't tell my wife and me I don't know. I guess he thought he'd be in trouble and somehow thought he could secretly raise these birds in his room. Anyway, he made a little nest in a shoe box, kept them warm with the heat lamp, and attempted to feed them bits of insects and tiny pieces of bread. Somehow they survived the night and the whole next day while the kids were at school, the shoe box concealed within the covers of his bed (not hard to understand in a boy's room). He had even confided his secret to a few friends and a teacher, who warned him that he might come home to three dead birds and had better come clean with his parents. But he didn't, until he was discovered. I knew these birds could not survive much longer without immediate professional attention, but it was 6 PM on a Friday!
Finally my head cleared enough and I thought of Bonnie Ott - she would surely know of someone. Much as I hate to call anyone at that hour, I got Bonnie on the phone and she quickly gave me the name of a rehabber in Columbia. In another stroke of luck, this kind woman answered the phone and said, "Bring them out." I packed Eric and his shoe box into the van and hurried to the home of Judy Hotzman, where the babies were wisked into an incubator. All the way home I tried to convince Eric that the birds could not have survived with us, but he was still getting teary-eyed. He just said, "I miss them."
I called Judy yesterday and much to my surprise learned that Eric's babies were thriving. I hope that he can see them again before they're released, since he shared such an intimate 24 hours with them. Mostly I hope he's learned that, in spite of his thoughtful care of the birds, the best solution is always to keep them with their mother, and also that he must trust an adult to help. He is really quite a kid and I have a feeling that this is just one of many such stories to come. Stay tuned.
Note: Baltimore County's rehabber, Gerta Deterer, may be reached at: 410-288-4546. Snail mail: Wild BirdRescue Inc., % Gerta Deterer, 8139 Cornwall Rd, Baltimore MD 21222
Anne Arundel County, Arnold
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Let us hear about your Back Yard and Maryland Birding too!!!
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