The newsletter of the Baltimore Bird Club

December 2005/January 2006 -- Online Edition


  1. Counting on Chimney Swifts by Carol Schreter
  2. Banana, Beer and Butterflies by Gail Frantz
  3. Board of Directors Meeting by Carol Schreter, Recording Secretary
  4. Field Trip Reports by Mary Chetelat
  5. May Count Compiled by Joel Martin
  6. Slate of Officers
  7. Covered Dish Dinner
  8. Conservation Corner by Wendy Olsson
  9. Maine Audubon Hog Island Field Ornithology Camp by Ann Davis
  10. North Florida in Winter by Jim Highsaw and Linda Prentice
  11. Rip Rap -- News from the Fort McHenry Field Station: Monitoring a Migratory Marsh
  12. Back Yard Birding and Beyond by Gail Frantz
  13. BBC Merchandise
Deadline for next CHIP NOTES: December 26, 2005 (the next issue will be February/March 2006). If possible, please email material to

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Counting on Chimney Swifts

By Carol Schreter

Sixty people attended BBC's chimney swift counts in Hampden on Sept 9, 10, 11, and 18, 2005. Two-thirds were Hampden locals. Just five were BBC members. Most came in response to recent articles in Hampden Happenings or the Messenger. Some had seen the "Maryland Outdoors" TV segment "Night Falls Swiftly" which aired on MPT last spring.

The chimney swifts swooped and swirled. The count rose each time, from 2,300 to 3,170, to 4,630 to 7,330. The September 18 count was just 1% short of our all time high of 7,403 on Sept. 5, 2003.

Our first three counts were posted on the "Swift Night Out 2005" website run by the Driftwood Wildlife Association in Texas. Again this year they got about 50 reports from 20 states. With our Sunday count of 4,630 chimney swifts, we tied for 2nd place with Columbia, Missouri. Muskogee, Oklahoma, visited by 6,500 migrating swifts, had the highest reported count this year. (See

In Hampden this fall the migrating swifts roosted in the Freestate Bookbindery at 3110 Elm Avenue, not the nearby Mill Center. People often ask why these chimney swifts use one chimney or the other. We may have our theories, but no one knows.

Many thanks to the BBC SwiftWatch Team: Alice and David Nelson, Bryce Butler, and Joan Cwi. At least three of us had to be there for each announced event. While Alice talks to the crowd as the "bird interpreter," other team members quietly click away on a hand counter. We count by tens as the swifts deftly drop into the chimney, at dusk.

Our Chimney Swift season continued on Sept 22 when the Audubon MD-DC leadership joined us in Hampden. That night we tallied 2,730 chimney swifts. David Curson invited the BBC SwiftWatch team to "nominate" these Hampden chimneys for the designation of "Important Bird Area." (IBA). Alice Nelson and I will ask owners of the Mill Center and Bookbindery if they are inclined to help us seek an IBA designation, which involves no regulatory powers. The Conservation Committee's Swift Watch in Hampden is proving to be a rich mix of conservation and public education.

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By Gail Frantz

A word to the wise: If you're a tidy person, or have a pronounced allergic reaction to stings from insects read no further. Skip this article.

Since I am neither tidy nor do I have any insect allergies, the following technique of attracting butterflies from early spring right up to the last seasonal moment, has afforded me a great deal of pleasure.

It all began in late April of '02 at Oregon Ridge. Someone dropped off several dozen, ripe paw paw fruits at the nature center. My own Paw Paw trees have yet to develop fruit so when the ranger instructed me to take some home and "Feed'm to the butterflies.", I did just that.

At home I peeled them, smeared them around a plate, then placed the plate on the railing of our deck. Within the hour, a Mourning Cloak and Anglewing were sucking up the juices. Naturally, wasps and bees also found them delectable and the paw paws were soon gone. I've never been bitten yet, but have made hasty departures when agitated beasts zoomed in and around my body and learned the hard way to keep the plate away from outside eating areas.

The feeding plate needed replenished. Fortunately, I recalled reading an article that suggested using rotten fruit mixed with beer & a bit of molasses. I mooshed up brown bananas with the cheapest beer available (left out the molasses). Instant success! And so the action began again and has never stopped. All that summer and the summers after that, we fed a constant parade of colorful butterflies. Red-spotted Purples, Anglewings, an occasional Mourning Cloak, Red Admirals, Variegated Fritillary, Viceroys and last summer a county record - one White Admiral. Happy sights to a butterfly lover.

Due to the cold and wet spring of '06, the B&B didn't get out until early May, so no Mourning Cloaks, but the rest of the summer was a delight. Richard Smith (Maryland butterfly expert) tells me they can actually smell the rotten fruit. So can you if you've placed the mixture too close to the house!

Commercial butterfly food is available, but rotten fruit and cheap beer on an old plate seems to work just fine. If the homemade mixture still has a good amount of pulp but has dried out in the sun, simply stir in more beer. Whichever type of mixture you use, placing it in the in the sun works best.

This summer I noticed an interesting behavior. The 'flies would often land a foot or so away from the feeding plate and walk the rest of the way onto the plate. An Anglewing (Coma) came in on November 16th with no sun shining and high winds with a cold front expected in the afternoon.. I'm eagerly waiting to see how late the procession will last before the snow falls.

Some species of butterflies you may expect to see at your B&B mixture include: Anglewings (haven't seen a question mark yet), Red Admiral, White Admiral, Variegated Fritillary, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy, Mourning Clock.

Although we have them in the yard, I've never seen the following butterflies at the mixture: Black, Pipevine, or Spicebush Swallowtails, Gray Hairstreak, Cabbage, Sulphurs, Great Spangled or Meadow Fritillary, Azures, Skippers, Duskywings, Sootywings, Painted Lady, Eastern Tailed Blue or Pearl Crescent.

Good luck with your own gourmet butterfly concoction. Let me know who comes to feast.

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Board of Directors Meetings

By Carol Schreter, Recording Secretary

The BBC Board met on September 13 and October 11, 2005. The membership vote on the new By-Laws was not taken at the October lecture because our President Pete Webb was not present. This vote will, hopefully, occur at the November 1 lecture.

The September Treasurer's Report showed that BBC income in 2004-2005 exceeded expenses by $1,424. This excess is not likely to reoccur, as we lowered the dues for this year from $40 to $35 per individual member.

Pete Webb reported on a brief meeting with Bill Vondrasek, Chief of Horticulture for the Baltimore City Dept. of Recreation and Parks. Webb and Vondrasek agreed that instead of charging BBC for use of the Cylburn Mansion House, the City will list BBC lectures and walks in Cylburn's calendar of events. The public is thus invited to join BBC activities there. This is a WIN-WIN situation, from Pete Webb's point of view.

The City hopes that birders will return to Druid Hill Park. On October 11, Anne Draddy of the Baltimore City Dept. of Recreation and Parks took Bryce Butler and me on a tour of Druid Hill. Draddy pointed out where the new Jones Falls Hike & Bike Trail will be developed. The BBC Field Trip Committee agreed to do a spring 2006 "scouting trip" with Draddy to investigate the park's birdwatching potential.

Trip Leaders should note that the Field Trip Report which is usually mailed to trip leaders in advance of their walks will now be found on the BBC website at To save mailing costs, we ask trip leaders to download the form from there.

Bryce Butler of the Conservation Committee set up a BBC booth at the Jones Falls Festival on September 18. Joan Cwi, Wendy and Bob Olsson assisted him there.

Urbanite Magazine article printed a fine article featuring BBC: (Urban Birds: A how-to guide for spotting your feathered friends, by Marianne Amoss, October 2005). You can find this article at their website.

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Field Trip Reports

By Mary Chetelat

MAY 22 2005 - OWINGS MILLS MALL WETLANDS: Keith Costley led a group of 8 on this cloudy, cool day. They were rewarded with views of 64 species including 5 flycatcher species, 3 vireo, 11 warblers and 2 sparrow. Highlights included 4 Great Blue Heron nests with nestlings, close-up looks at a Warbling Vireo, and a Downy Woodpecker feeding young in a nest cavity.

JUNE 5 - SOLDIER'S DELIGHT NEA; It was hot and clear as David Curson led this walk along the Choate Mine Trail and forested Yellow Trail. Singing warblers included Pine, Prairie, Black-and-White, and Ovenbird. Scarlet Tanager and Yellow-billed Cuckoo were also spotted. Participants: 3. Species viewed: 29.

JUNE 18 - PVSP GRANITE AREA: Keith Costley and 4 participants viewed 53 species including 10 ovenbirds, 6 Scarlet Tanagers, 2 Pileated Woodpeckers and 7 Wood Ducks. There were numerous Acadian Flycatchers and Eastern Wood-Pewees, Blue-grey Gnatcatchers and Wood Thrushes.

JULY 19 - BANNEKER PARK; This excursion, with Keith Costley as sole participant, sounded like a delightful opportunity for viewing birds on the nest and young birds. Fledglings viewed included Baltimore Oriole, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Bluebird and Chipping Sparrow. Birds on nests included Northern Mockingbird, House Wren, and Eastern Bluebird. Keith also checked out the Trolley Trail that goes from Oella to Ellicott City and concluded it looked great for a trip - a 2-mile asphalt path along a stream through mature forest.

SEPTEMBER 6 & 13, 2005 - LAKE ROLAND: At this time I don't have the reports from these 2 dates. However I was on one of these walks and remember it was rather slow birding until the group came upon a fallout of warblers at the far end of the trail that was very exciting - one of those occasions when you don't know where to look first!

SEPTEMBER 20 - LAKE ROLAND: Debbie Terry led this walk on which 11 participants viewed 46 species. Highlights included 3 heron species (Great Blue, Green, and Black-crowned Night Herons), comparative views of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and several warbler species including Green, and Black-crowned Night Herons), comparative views of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and several warbler species including Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, and Black-throated Green. The mud flats where most of our shore-bird sitings are made is extensively overgrown with weeds and grasses, more so than ever. The group has regular discussions about what is happening with that environment.

SEPTEMBER 27 - LAKE ROLAND: On this mild but windy day, Shirley Geddes led 10 participants on what turned out to be a great hawk day. 6 hawk species - Osprey, Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, Red-shouldered, Broad-winged and Red-tailed - were viewed enjoying those breezes. 41 species total.

OCTOBER 4 - LAKE ROLAND: On this walk, Ruth Culbertson and 9 other birders saw 34 species, including a Merlin that was being chased by other birds and then landed on a perch of bare branches for a good viewing; a Brown Creeper (Shirley's requested bird of the day; Lake Roland regulars know what I mean by "requested bird"); female or juvenile Grosbeaks; and 5 species of woodpecker.

OCTOBER 11-LAKE ROLAND: On this rainy Tuesday, 4 hardy birders found 32 species. Highlights included Wood Duck, Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, and 5 species of woodpecker including at least 15 Northern Flickers.

OCTOBER 15-On this mild sunny clear morning at FORT MCHENRY, Jim Peters and one other birder were delighted with a large fallout of birds: large numbers of Phoebes, kinglets of both species, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Chipping, Song, Swamp and White-throated Sparrow, One Fox Sparrow, a White-crowned Sparrow, a Black-billed Cuckoo and a Blue headed Vireo added to the excitement. All this despite a number of Johns Hopkins grad students in the marsh and the Baltimore Marathon being run not too far away!

OCTOBER 18-LAKE ROLAND: Dot Tustafson led a group of 8 on this walk. They had good looks at brown Creepers, Blue-headed Vireo, and a female Pileated Woodpeckers. Matilda Weiss got a good look at a Winter Wren.

OCTOBER 25-LAKE ROLAND: Paul Noell and Shirley and Raymond Geddes persevered on this overcast/chilly/showery morning and were rewarded with views of the several Winter and Carolina Wrens, Hermit, Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, both Black and Turkey Vultures, a Red-tailed Hawk and a Merlin. Paul reported "A brief glimpse of slashing flight between tries gave the impression of a Merlin. And fortunately a few minutes later it was spied perched atop a bare tree, permitting close-up scrutiny-the highlight of the day!" 39 species total, including a Veery, were recorded.

The following was submitted by Gene Scarpulla
HART-MILLER ISLAND BY BUS October 10 Weather: cloudy MD Environmental Service Tour Leaders: Chrissy Albanese, Rusty LaMotte

This was a first time visit for three of the eleven birders on board. In spite of the cloudy day most everyone had good looks at the shore birds. Stephanie Stone, enjoyed the day while writing up the trip for an article in a sailing magazine called SpinSheet Magazine.43 total

Species of Note: Snow Goose Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Avocet, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated/western peep sp., Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper.

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May Count 2005: May 14, 2005

Compiled by Joel Martin

Common Loon1
Pied-billed Grebe2
Double-crested Cormorant66
Great Blue Heron60
Great Egret5
Snowy Egret1
Cattle Egret12
Green Heron3
Black-crowned Night-Heron6
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron1
Glossy Ibis5
Black Vulture18
Turkey Vulture92
Canada Goose336
Mute Swan30
Wood Duck13
Blue-winged Teal2
Green-winged Teal5
Lesser Scaup1
Bald Eagle 7
Sharped-shinned Hawk 2
Cooper's Hawk7
Red-shouldered Hawk13
Red-tailed Hawk25
American Kestrel1
Peregrine Falcon*1
Black-bellied Plover167
Semipalmated Plover20
Greater Yellowlegs7
Lesser Yellowlegs16
Solitary Sandpiper29
Spotted Sandpiper62
Semipalmated Sandpiper35
Least Sandpiper145
White-rumped Sandpiper*2
Curlew Sandpiper**1
peep sp.157
Short-billed Dowitcher6
Laughing Gull1
Ring-billed Gull145
Herring Gull152
Great Black-backed Gull131
Caspian Tern213
Common Tern2
Forster's Tern5
Least Tern15
Rock Pigeon108
Mourning Dove155
Black-billed Cuckoo 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo29
Great Horned Owl2
Barred Owl1
Common Nighthawk2
Chimney Swift239
Ruby-throated Hummingbird9
Belted Kingfisher6
Red-bellied Woodpecker106
Downy Woodpecker37
Hairy Woodpecker9
Northern Flicker38
Pileated Woodpecker 10
Eastern Wood-Pewee 39
Acadian Flycatcher70
Willow Flycatcher4
Least Flycatcher1
Eastern Phoebe29
Great-crested Flycatcher 25
Eastern Kingbird82
White-eyed Vireo29
Blue-headed Vireo1
Yellow-throated Vireo 9
Warbling Vireo51
Red-eyed Vireo267
Blue Jay839
American Crow136
Fish Crow28
crow sp.8
Purple Martin10
Tree Swallow142
N. Rough-winged Swallow103
Bank Swallow38
Cliff Swallow21
Barn Swallow196
Carolina Chickadee81
Tufted Titmouse74
White-breasted Nuthatch24
Brown Creeper1
Carolina Wren93
House Wren57
Marsh Wren3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher215
Eastern Bluebird43
Gray-cheeked Thrush*1
Bicknell's Thrush*1
Swainson's Thrush25
Hermit Thrush3
Wood Thrush135
American Robin461
Gray Catbird327
Northern Mockingbird78
Brown Thrasher11
European Starling479
Cedar Waxwing154
Tennessee Warbler4
Nashville Warbler3
Northern Parula97
Yellow Warbler96
Chestnut-sided Warbler8
Magnolia Warbler6
Black-throated Blue Warbler41
Yellow-rumped Warbler70
Black-throated Green Warbler 23
Blackburnian Warbler1
Yellow-thoated Warbler1
Pine Warbler7
Prairie Warbler19
Blackpoll Warbler209
Cerulean Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler14
American Redstart79
Prothonotary Warbler10
Worm-eating Warbler4
Northern Waterthrush9
Louisiana Waterthrush25
Kentucky Warbler3
Common Yellowthroat144
Hooded Warbler4
Wilson's Warbler3
Canada Warbler2
Yellow-breasted Chat12
Summer Tanager2
Scarlet Tanager74
Eastern Towhee54
Chipping Sparrow68
Field Sparrow15
Savannah Sparrow4
Grasshopper Sparrow1
Song Sparrow152
Swamp Sparrow13
White-throated Sparrow6
Northern Cardinal394
Rose-breasted Grosbeak6
Blue Grosbeak14
Indigo Bunting120
Red-winged Blackbird490
Eastern Meadowlark1
Common Grackle445
Brown-headed Cowbird147
Orchard Oriole45
Baltimore Oriole130
House Finch76
American Goldfinch238
House Sparrow236

Total Individuals11,408
Species Total162

May Count 2005
Additional Data
Number Parties18
Hrs in Car15
Hrs on Foot88
Miles in Car147
Miles on Foot63
Hrs by Boat2.5
Miles by Boat5
Number Owlers3
Hrs Night/Owls1.25
Miles Night/Owls0
Early Start Time3.25
Late Stop Time20.3
Elaine Arnold, Stan Arnold, Larry Brammer, Peg Brammer, Anne Brooks, Bryce Butler, Brent Byers, Mary Chetelat, Keith Costley, John Dennehy, JoAnn Dryer, Kevin Graff, Linda Groff, Dot Gustafson, Jim Highsaw, Kye Jenkins, John Landers, Chris Manning, Jane Manning, Kate Manrodt, Joel Martin, Jim Meyers, Paul Noell, Jim Peters, John Sala, Steve Sanford, Gene Scarpulla, Carol Schreter, Brian Sykes, Debbie Terry, David Thorndill, Pete Webb

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Slate of Officers

In pursuance of the recent change voted in at the November Tuesday Evening at Cylburn meeting, the club board has assumed the duties of coming up with a slate of officers, to be voted up or down at the March 7, 2006 Tuesday Evening at Cylburn meeting. That's the Cylburn lecture featuring "The Longest Pelagic - 24 days in the Southern Hemisphere" with Gail Mackiernan.

Here's an advance preview of the slate of officers we've managed to come up with:

Slate of officers for the
2006-07 season
PresidentPete Webb
Vice PresidentDavid Thorndill
TreasurerMartha Dunn
Recording SecretaryPaula Schugam
Membership SecretaryDot Gustafson
BBC DirectorJoel Martin
BBC DirectorJoan Cwi
BBC DirectorKevin Graff
State DirectorHelene Gardel
State DirectorDavid Curson
State DirectorRoberta Ross

This doesn't mean nobody else is welcome; rather, it's the people who we've managed to get a "yes" out of. Anyone interested in decision making by our Board of Directors and Officers at the regular Board business meetings can come to one of them. They're held every SECOND Tuesday of the month at Cylburn at 7:30 pm. (That's usually a week after the Tuesday lectures which are usually the first Tuesday of the month. While the lectures run from September through May, the Board meetings run September through June.) You can contact any Board member or Officer for more details.

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Don't miss our annual covered dish dinner which will be on Sunday, January 8 at 5:00 p.m. at Bykota in Towson. Our speaker will be Hank Kaestner, BBC member, world traveler, and birdwatcher extraordinaire and his topic will be, "The 2005 Edition of Bird Watching Adventures Around the World." Reservations and food dish coordination: Shirley Geddes, 377-6583.

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Conservation Corner: Gardening for Winter Interest and Wildlife

by Wendy Olsson, BBC Conservation Committee

With Spring around the corner, now is the time to consider what type of gardening projects await in your yard. While gardening and landscaping is aesthetically pleasing, our yards are also becoming more and more important to our feathered friends. Consider the projected 6,000 new homes planned for an area close to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. While a good percentage of the area may be converted to concrete, consider if at least half of the yards at the new development contained trees, shrubs, and perennials valuable to wildlife while at the same time improving the look of an area being developed and advertised as "close to nature".

While the Blackwater Natl. Wildlife Refuge proposed development may be an extreme example of habitat loss near an area critical to songbirds and waterfowl, the Baltimore area is also converting much of its former farmland, grassland, and woods to shopping malls, housing developments, and office buildings. You can make a difference by landscaping for wildlife. As you view yards and woods in which many species are dormant, some native plants provide beautiful interesting features during the winter months. Try out these plants:

River Birch (Betula nigra) This tree has lovely peeling bark that provides wonderful winter interest for your garden. The tree usually is multi-stemmed and grows to between 30 and 50 feet high. It can take a variety of conditions.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) This deciduous holly shrub has brilliant red berries through winter. Provides food for birds and adds great color to holiday greens. Winterberry shrubs grow between 5 and 12 feet tall.

White Pine (Pinus strobus) This fast-growing, soft-needled evergreen is good for a large space, since it can reach up to 100 feet tall and may have a spread of 50 to 75 feet at maturity. This pine does best on moist, well-drained sandy/loamy soil, although I have seen them growing in a variety of soil types.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) This perennial grass is widely available in most nurseries in a variety of cultivars. This is also being planted widely around the Baltimore Beltway as it provides excellent erosion control and is attractive all year round. This grass usually gets to around 5 feet tall and can tolerate drought.

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) This beautiful evergreen shrub has dark green, glossy leaves. It provides winter cover for animals and has white or pinkish/purple flowers from May-July. This shrub is poisonous to hoofed browsers for those of you who need to garden with deer in mind. Mountain Laurel reaches a height of between 12 and 20 feet.

Sheep Laurel or Lambkill (Kalmia angustifolia) With a name like "Lambkill" this one is hopefully also a shrub that hooved animals won't munch on. This evergreen shrub reaches a height of 2 to 3 feet, and has white, pink, purple or red blooms in May-July. Both Kalmia latifolia and Kalmia angustifolia like acidic soil.

Blue Stem (Schizachyrium scoparium) This beautiful grass provides interest both in the warm and cool seasons. In summer, this grass is blue, and turns a beautiful tan color in winter. Birds eat the seeds in fall and winter. This grass grows to about 3 - 4 feet tall, and prefers poor soil and full sun. In very fertile soils this plant tends to flop and would need some sort of support. If you want to see Blue Stem grass, visit Soldier's Delight Natural Environmental Area in Owings Mills. This area boasts both Big Bluestem and Little Bluestem, along with Indian Grass.

These are only a few of the plants that can enhance your yard in winter. For more information on plants with winter interest for your garden, contact the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection & Resource Management on (410) 887-5683. The plants listed above are a sampling from their resource sheet entitled "Winter Wonderful Landscapes", or visit their website. The Home and Garden Information Center of the University of Maryland, MD Cooperative Extension is another excellent resource for gardening. Visit their website or call them at (800)342-2507.

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By Ann Davis

Imagine that you are spending a week on an island, where everyone else inhabiting the island, shares the same interest as you do. It is a place where cutting-edge experts have come to share their knowledge with you. The experts, always within an arm's length, graciously answer every question that pops into your head no matter how insignificant. No, they don't just answer your questions. The instructors patiently take their time to explain the answers to you and make sure you comprehend them. If you think that I am making up this imaginary place, then you have not been to Maine Audubon's Hog Island!

Upon arriving on the "surreal" Hog Island, you quickly let go of the material world you left behind. You unpack, and move into your shared cabin room with two bathrooms down the hall. Everyone quickly realizes that working together will benefit the whole cabin. As one camper noted midway through the second day, we had already become a community. We were shocked to realize that she was right, and we weren't sure when it happened. However, we most definitely had made the transition from a group of strangers to a small friendly community. We shared the rhythms of the island.

Some of us rose at the crack of dawn to pursue bird watching with our guides. Others chose to avoid the early morning mosquito bites and waited under cover for the breakfast bell to announce the beginning of our day. At the sound of the morning bell, which also announced the beginning of all activities, we moved to the dining room to enjoy each others' company The days were packed with activities from sunrise to well past sunset. We pursued birds by foot, by boat, and by car. We were treated to sightings of Upland Sandpipers, Puffins, Ospreys, Eiders, and Loons, but I could go on forever naming the birds. No bird was too obscure for our instructors. Our instructors gave us not only the bird's name, but its flight pattern mating rituals, migration route, and any other information that we might like to hear. At one point, I called out using my "experienced" bird- ing knowledge, "It's black with fuzzy feathers on its head, there, there!" to which Tom Leckey replied, "Yes, that would be a baby Grackle begging for food from a parent bird." He hadn't even seen or heard the bird yet! Of course, he was right, and in a few short moments, we were treated to the parent bird flying into the tree to feed its youngster. (I still think he somehow planted the bird for us knowing we would spot it). He then went on to enlighten us with information about how the parents feed and take care of their young.

Did I mention the food at camp? We were always provided with delicious and nutritious meals - spanikopita, lobster bisque, poached eggs - the list of wonderful dishes goes on. The meals are served cafeteria style with an instructor at each table. Once again, no question was too trivial for the instructors. Kenn Kaufman, Scott Weidensaul, Sarah Morris, Greg Budney, and Bonnie Bochan were just a few of the people who spent their precious time guiding us through the world of birds.

When we weren't in the field or eating with the instructors, we spent our time listening to their enthralling lectures on their favorite aspects of the world of ornithology. There was so much to learn that I wished I had packed a few extra brains so I could soak in all the information! We explored migratory routes along with the route that Peterson and Fisher took in Wild America. We learned about bird songs and how to record them, some avian anatomy, and how to improve our identification skills. My favorite was when we set up mist nets and banded birds. I will never forget holding the tiny hummingbird in my hand before it flew back to freedom. Nor will I ever forget how tiny the hummingbird bands were that Scott Weidensaul showed us.

Suddenly, the week came to an end. What an incredible gift we had been given! I am not sure that I will be able to recall half of the information that was presented to us. However, I am sure that I will always remember the extraordinary people, and the wonderful experiences I had while I was an islander. Even if it was for just a fleeting moment.

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North Florida in Winter

by Jim Highsaw and Linda Prentice

Continuing our exploration of lesser-known parts of Florida, we spent February 14 - 18, 2005 in north Florida, visiting parks, natural areas and historic sites in the Jacksonville, Gainesville and St. Augustine areas. We found that the birding was pleasant, the parks and trails were not crowded, and the weather was generally good.

On the first day we spent the afternoon at Fort Clinch State Park, on the coast north of Jacksonville. We found that the Willow Pond Trail was a nice trail through woodland habitat, and we got our first birds of the trip - Black-and-White Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Phoebe and Eastern Towhee. We returned to the park the following morning and found a Kestrel, Red-shouldered Hawk, Common Tern and a number of shorebirds. After lunch we drove south down the coast to Kingsley Plantation on the St. John's River. Here we had a nice look at a Common Loon and also saw a number of common landbirds.

On the third day we visited areas in and around Gainesville - the Morningside Nature Center property, Gum Root Park and San Felasco Preserve. The Nature Center property is a good place for woodland species and had a wonderful early morning chorus. The observation/photo blind on one of the trails was a perfect place to observe Carolina Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Towhee and other birds. The property has an extensive trail system which we did not have time to fully explore. After leaving the Nature Center we drove to Gum Root Park and walked on the trail there. Here we found Osprey, Northern Flicker and Pileated Woodpecker. After lunch we drove to the San Felasco Preserve and walked about a mile on one of the trails. Although it is an interesting natural area, there were few birds and the noise from a nearby highway was distracting. After returning to the motel we found two Loggerhead Shrikes in a field behind the motel, a nice way to end the day.

On the fourth day we visited the Marjorie Rawlings State Historic Park in Cross Creek. This turned out to be the highlight of the trip - we had an excellent tour of the house (we were the only ones on the first tour of the day), and then birded on the property and on the adjacent County park property next to Orange Lake. Here we found Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Pied-billed Grebe, Common Moorhen, Bluebirds, White-eyed Vireo and Palm Warblers. Then we drove east to Palatka and Ravine Gardens State Park. Although the loop road and trails in the park were wonderful, we did not find many birds here.

We started the last day by going to the St. John's County Ag. Center property and pond near St. Augustine, where we found Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Loggerhead Shrike and Eastern Meadowlark. Then we walked on the nature trail at Anastasia State Park and found Blue-headed Vireo and Pileated Woodpecker. After a good lunch at the King's Head Pub, we walked on a trail at Stokes Landing preserve north of St. Augustine and found a number of common woodland species. The following morning we headed back to Baltimore, with plans to return in 2006 to explore the Ocala National Forest.

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Rip Rap -- News from the Fort McHenry Field Station: Monitoring a Migratory Marsh

The Year to Date The sixth year of avian monitoring at Fort McHenry Wetland came to a close on August 16, 2005 with a year count of 180 species.

Eight new species were added during the past 12 months, making the total Fort count 234 bird species. This number represents 55% of the Maryland checklist which now includes 424 species-an increase of 14 species since last winter, according to the Maryland Ornithological Society's Maryland/District of Columbia records committee.

The species added to the Fort list this year were eared grebe, northern pintail, sanderling, Franklin's gull, Bicknell's thrush, bay-breasted warbler, summer tanager and pine siskin.

What We've Learned Over the past six years of monitoring, we have learned interesting information from the collected data, including:

Gender Monitoring

Research indicates that there may be more females than males passing through the Fort wetland. This is especially true of neotropical migrants (warblers, orioles, tanagers, etc.). To investigate this development, a new study will begin this fall in which data on the gender of sexually dimorphic species (males and females are visibly different) will be collected and analyzed to determine the ratios for each species.

Only the 125 species that can be sexually differentiated in the field will be included in the study. If the analysis reveals that there are indeed more females than males, the aquarium will perform a follow-up study to determine why the ratios are unbalanced.

There is growing concern among environmentalists regarding the levels of hormones in the ecosystem and their effects on males and reproductive success. The Fort McHenry field station may be able to shed some light on this area of concern.

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Back Yard Birding and Beyond

By Gail Frantz

Elise Kreiss, August 7

Volume II of the Stokes' "A Guide to Bird Behavior," writes about a visual display called a "Wing-spread." A White-breasted Nuthatch is illustrated with its wings outspread, beak pointed up, tail spread, and is described as swaying from side to side. The behavior is, "Given near a nest or feeder when the bird is in competition with other birds or mammals."

Today our male nuthatch came down a mulberry tree towards a ground feeder. Anchored on the trunk maybe two feet above the occupied feeder, wings and tail spread, head downward, he vibrated his wings and rotated smoothly and slowly; moving like a little mechanical pendulum,back and forth. It was an impressive and decorative display which lasted for several seconds.

Leakin Park

August 20 from Elise and Paul Kriess: Paul and I did a short walk Saturday morning in Leakin Park, Baltimore City. It was not a birdy day. We did see two Yellow Warblers, an American Redstart, a Worm-eating Warbler, and a Canada Warbler, however. We also had close looks at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo along the Gwynns Falls. While a second bird called that soft, two-syllable call, our bird clacked softly. We were also pleasantly surprised to find a Solitary Sandpiper in thepark dump.

The city has been dumping leaves in the park in an area to one side of the model railroad, screened by a tall row of cedars. They've been dumping them, plastic bags and all. In an interview, I heard this called "recycling." Well, of course, the bags don't biodegrade, and they have created a foundation for a little sludge pond. It is an interesting spot. Squash that I've never seen in the grocery store are growing wild there, cross-fertilizing one another - - Paul and I made two meals out of one and found a few cherry tomatoes to go with them. This is no one's garden - - you have to bushwhack and climb unstable trash bags to get to it. Anyway, the Solitary Sandpiper was perched on one of the plastic bags, and we had a good look. We've also found Canada Geese floating around there on another occasion.

Cromwell Valley

September 5 from Pete Lev,: I visited Cromwell Valley Park in late afternoon, after getting directions from Kevin Graff re the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher seen on Saturday. To my surprise and delight, I was able to re-find this bird. It was further downstream than on Saturday, in a swampy area near the spring. The whole vicinity was loaded with flycatchers: Peewee 12+, Empid sp. 3, Great-crested 1, plus the Yellow-bellied. Also seen were Blue Grosbeak (young male), Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, White-Eyed and Red-Eyed Vireo, Red-Tailed and Red-Shouldered Hawk.Granite

September 5 from Keith Costley,: During six-hour walk in the Granite Area of the Patapsco Valley State Park, Wayne Gordon and I counted 45 species. The warblers were well represented with 12 species (including Kentucky, Bay-breasted, and Canada) quietly foraging ? most at close range. Only 4 of the warbler species are known to breed in the area; the other 11 decided to hide as we passed. Other highlights included at least 8 Red-Breasted Nuthatch, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and the singing Yellow-throated Vireos. When I first hear the Red-breasted Nuthatches I thought it was another Wayne Gordon trick ?:>), discounted them and moved on. Fortunately, we passed the same location and found six birds. We heard two more in a second stand of conifers.

Lake Roland

September 13, Debbie Terri reported high lights: During this morning BBC Lake Roland walk, we saw many Robins, Red-eyed Vireos as well as heard a Yellow-throated and Warbling Vireo. The birds seen and enjoyed by all participants were: Gt. Blue Heron Black-crowned Night-Heron (adult) Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (adult) Osprey Yellow-billed Cuckoo Merlin (seen by two participants before walk started) For 5 minutes he put on a show chasing Robins and Flickers. 7 Species of Warblers Chestnut-sided Magnolia Black-throated Blue-female Black-throated Green Black-and-white Amer. Redstart Common Yellowthroat Debbie Terry

Bolton Hill

September 28, Bryce Butler reports: There's been an interesting movement of birds through Bolton Hill. Monday an Ovenbird showed up and has been around feeding on the seed I scatter. A Brown Thrasher showed up the same day. Today I had my first White-throated Sparrow.

Baltimore County

On October 14, Irma Weinstein saw, what she's pretty sure was a Monk Parakeet by Smith Ave and the Greenspring Shopping Center across the road from Pikesville Senior High. If you're in that area keep an eye open for any flying green bird!

Cromwell Valley Park and Cylburn Arboretum HawkWatch Highlights

September 19 from Cylburn hawk sightings by Stephen Sanford and Paul Noel:

1 Bald Eagle, 60 Broadwings

September 19 from CVP, Jim Meyers: 8 Bald Eagles, 1 Peregrine (first in 3 years), 844 Broadwings, 12 Sharpshins and 1 Merlin,11 Osprey, 3 N. Harrier

September 24, both Cylburn Arboretum and CVP hit the jackpot for Broadwings, Kevin Graff reported 1425 while Steve Sanford and his "bird posse" counted 850 Broadwings.

November 11-13, Jim Myers' weekend provided an assortment of raptors

1 Golden Eagle, 119 Red-tailed Hawks, 23 Red-shouldered Hawks,

Let us hear about your Back Yard and Maryland Birding too!!!


Call or write to:

Gail Frantz
13955 Old Hanover Rd.
Reisterstown MD 21136

Tel: 410-833-7135


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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.

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You may order online at The Baltimore Bird Club Store, CafePress: or call in toll free orders on Mondays through Fridays between 8:00am -5:00pm (PST) at: 877-809-1659

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