WRENDERINGS The Newsletter of the Harford Bird Club

Volume 16 Number 5

October 2003

"Acquainting folks to the wild birds and birding life of Harford County"


Autumn Brings Colorful New Club Year
2004 Scholarship Program
"Winged Migration"
Member's Corner
Harford Bird Club Field Notes...
Calendar of Events
Harford Birdlife July 16, 2003 - Sept. 15, 2003
Field Trip Reports
FIELD TRIPS August - October 2003
Dark-eyed Junco

Autumn Brings Colorful New Club Year

What a great picnic! The weather could not have been better! Tom Congersky and Randy out did themselves this year. The beef was done to perfection and Randy's beans are the best! Thanks to Jean Fry for making her outstanding Maryland Crab soup, it was mouthwatering. Thanks also to everyone who brought salads and desserts. We had 32 persons attend the picnic.

The bird walk, led this year by Phil Powers, who knows Mariner Point Park like the back of his hand, was very pleasant. We had fantastic views of mature and immature Bald Eagles, Common Night Hawks, Indigo Bunting, Gnatcatcher and the usual backyard species. It was a great way to begin the new birding year.

This year promises to be an exciting one for the Harford Bird Club. The Field trip committee has planned a variety of trips for the fall. Consult the list for details and try to get out and bird this fall. It is good for body and soul!

We have some interesting speakers at our upcoming meetings. For starters, Gene Scarpulla, Gull Aficionado, will be presenting Hart- Miller Island: A Brief History Through Time, 1600 - 2000. Gene's presentation is an opportunity to experience the history, ecology and the amazing bird life of Hart-Miller Island. The talk will cover the original Hart, Miller, and Pleasure Islands as well as Hart-Miller Island State Park and the Hart-Miller Island Dredged Material Containment Facility.

Our January meeting will be the third Friday, January 16, 2004. (Please note the date change.) We are privileged to have Hank Kaestner a consultant for McCormick Spice Company. Hank is a world traveler who bird watches while visiting exotic places purchasing spices. He will present: 2003: An Odyssey Buying Spices and Watching Birds.

The March meeting, March 5, 2004 will feature photographer and bird watcher, Bob Mumford who will present Timeless Patterns: The Seasons at Churchill. He has spent many months photographing the birds and mammals of Churchill, Manitoba. He will also bring some of his photographs for sale.

May 7, 2004 will be special with Pete Webb from the Baltimore Bird Club presenting Identifying Spring Warblers by Sight and Song.

I hope you will be able to come to all of these great programs.

Once again the Ladies of the Churchville Presbyterian Church will serve a tasty meal for our three dinner meetings, including November, March and May. If you are not in the habit of coming to dinner before the meeting, why don't you try it? It is a great way to meet members of the Club and socialize, and the food's good too! Jean Wheeler

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2004 Scholarship Program

In case you missed the article in the September-October Yellowthroat, this is just a reminder that MOS sponsors about ten or twelve scholarships each year to Audubon camps. This year they are available in Maine and Wisconsin. The Maine camps are Field Ornithology, Natural History of the Maine Coast, and Workshop for Educators. The Wisconsin camp is called Wade into Ecology. Each award is valued at between $600 and $900 and covers tuition, room and board for six days at an ecology or ornithology workshop at the above locations. Candidates should be teachers, park rangers, naturalists, community volunteers, or environmental educators. A major criteria is that the winner should be in a position to pass on know ledge gained to young people. All applicants should be eighteen years of age or older and submit a letter of intent, a current resume, and two letters of recommendation, one of which should be from an MOS member or chapter. Information is available on the MOS website www.mdbirds.org Go to activities and click on scholarships. For further information, please contact your local MOS chapter president, chapter scholarship representative or Jean Fry, scholarship chairperson, at 410-452-8539 or e-mail: ffryjl@aol.com Address: 1202 Ridge Road, Pylesville, MD 21132. Deadline for receipt of applications is January 31, 2004. J. Fry

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"Winged Migration"

For those of you who missed the spectacular documentary on bird migration when it was at the Charles Theater in the past couple of months, it should be out on DVD before long. Don't miss it! It is poetry, art, adventure, and ornithology all exploding on the screen. Not only do you see the mechanics of bird flight, but you also feel it and find yourself rooting for the birds, holding your breath, and sometimes covering your eyes. In addition, the viewer is reminded that migration is a worldwide phenomenon. There are not only scenes of exquisite beauty but also numbing sadness, which portray the irony in the freedom of flight which frequently brings birds into tragic situations. Most of this is done with very little commentary, so the majority of the movie is a visual experience. By showing North American, Asian, and European species, the viewer is also reminded of the interconnectedness in nature. From Common Murres to Snow Geese to Red-breasted Ducks to Whooper Swans in Vietnam, Iceland, France, and elsewhere, the birds are the stars of this show. All of this was accomplished by a French producer, Jacques Perrin, who knew nothing about ornithology when he started the project. Fourteen cameramen and seventeen pilots used balloons, ultralights, parachutes, gliders, helicopters, and light aircraft to compile more than four hundred hours of footage. They covered seven continents and over forty countries. An added plus to the DVD is also behind-the-scenes footage that was not in the theater version. Put this on your wish list. Hopefully, it will be out by Christmas! Jean Fry

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Member's Corner

Honorary Senior Member
The executive board of the Harford Bird Club has decided to make Emma Kohout an honorary member. According to Joyce Gorsuch, our treasurer, she has been a member longer than anyone else in the club. Emma and her husband Walter joined in 1950. (The club was formed in 1949.) Emma attended meetings up until about a year ago and was present at the fiftieth anniversary of the club in 1999. She turned 93 in June, and until a few months ago she was living independently in her own home. She is now residing in an assisted living facility on the Eastern Shore. Her daughter lives in St. Michael's. It is certain that Emma would appreciate hearing from those of you who remember her. Her address is: Dixson House, 108 North Higgins Street, Easton MD 21601. Jean Fry

Isabel washes out Abingdon Fun Day
Our effort to publicize the club at the Abingdon Family Fun Days was a wash out. We did not want to risk ruining our paper based display in the downpour on Saturday, September 13. Special thanks is owed the volunteers who put aside time on Saturday to help our club. They are Eileen Fry, Macrina Seitz and Betsy Reeder. Our club is all about our volunteers who make our organization successful.

The new Abingdon Public Library will be state of the art in many respects. It will also include a botanical garden. I wonder what project our club may want to offer in the way of birding information and support. Debby Stewart

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Harford Bird Club Field Notes...

'03 - '04 Membership Renewal - Annual membership dues are now overdue for the Harford Bird Club year from September 1, 2003 through August 31, 2004. You should have received a pre-addressed envelope with fee structures in the July-August Wrenderings. If you did not receive this envelope, please contact Joyce Gorsuch at (302) 239-2243 for more information on renewal. Please fill out the envelope, enclose your check made payable to HARFORD MOS and mail it to our treasurer, Joyce Gorsuch. We would like to have all dues paid by November 1, 2003. *Please do not send dues with the dinner reservation form*

New Member - The Harford Bird Club would like to welcome our newest member:

Dawn Vangrin

Old Cards Wanted - The Publicity Committee is looking for old Christmas and greeting cards with birds on them. The club recycles these by creating bookmarks as giveaways. If you have some to recycle, please contact Debby Stewart.

Online Discussion Board - The MOS is investigating setting up an online discussion board. If you are computer savvy, and would like to help, contact Janet Millenson at janet@twocrows.com.

Publicity Committee - The Harford Bird Club is still looking for a chairperson for our Publicity Committee. This is a wonderful volunteer opportunity to work for and with the Harford Bird Club, it's executive council, all of it's members, and the organizations with which we share common goals and ideas. Contact Jean Wheeler, Harford Bird Club President, at (410-879-7424) for further information.

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Calendar of Events

November 7 Dinner Meeting at Churchville Presbyterian Church at 6:15 p.m. Guest speaker will be Gene Scarpulla.
November 16 Deadline - to contribute Harford Birdlife reports to Jean Fry for Sep 16, 2003 - Nov 15, 2003. Jean's address is 1202 Ridge Road, Pylesville, MD 21132 or email at ffryjl@aol.com.
November 23 Deadline - to submit articles for the Nov/Dec. issue of Wrenderings to Rick Cheicante. Rick's address is 1003-F Jessica's Ct, Bel Air, MD 21014 or rickcheicante@cs.com.
December 6 State Board Meeting .
January 16 Meeting at Churchville Presbyterian Church at 7:00 p.m. Guest speaker will be Hank Kaestner.
March 5 Dinner Meeting at Churchville Presbyterian Church at 6:15 p.m. Guest speaker will be Bob Mumford.

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Image of a Wren over outline of Harford County
Harford Birdlife
July 16, 2003 - Sept. 15, 2003
by Jean Fry

It was a strange summer, weatherwise. This time period saw above average rainfall. Numerous days were overcast and humid. The temperature only went over 90 degrees about six or eight times during the entire summer. When we left for vacation on July 16 the Wood Thrushes were still singing; the Ovenbirds were still calling. When we returned on July 26, the woods were silent. Except for an occasional Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, or American Crow, there have been almost no bird songs or calls. The only notable exception has been the Carolina Wrens during the day and the Barred and Screech-Owls at night. There also was a limited number of reports.

DL found a Pied-billed Grebe with chicks at Swan Harbour on 7/27. Good find!

JLF saw a Great Egret at Lake Mitten in Pylesville on 9/7. CS reported one in flight over Aberdeen Proving Ground on 9/15. LF was surprised to see a male Ruddy Duck in full breeding plumage at Lake Mitten on 7/14.

Our youngest birdwatcher, DanW, sent in two raptor reports. He saw a Red-shouldered Hawk on 9/7 in the woods at his house in Webster Village near Havre de Grace. He said, "It might have been looking for its prey." He also observed two Red-tailed Hawks flying over Meadowvale Elementary School in HDG on 9/9 when he was starting gym class. (DanW is in second grade.) JB, who lives on Sharon Acres Road in Forest Hill, has had a pair of Cooper's Hawks make a nest in a little patch of pine trees on their property for several years. Last year they had three offspring; this year they had two. He reports that they constantly patrol their yard and the field in front of their house, across from Kefauver's on Jarrettsville Road. They have watched them catch squirrels, moles, and mice, but no rabbits. LE observed some interesting behavior of a female Cooper's Hawk on 8/30. "A little after 7 p.m. the bird flew into a tree where I have a sunflower feeder. The tree is also a favorite with the hummingbirds in my yard. The hawk remained in the tree for six to eight minutes, moving from limb to limb, and the whole time I was there, there was a 'cloud' of five to seven hummingbirds buzzing around it about three to four feet away. The really interesting part was when it took off and flew toward my neighbor's yard, it had an entourage of over a dozen hummingbirds following it! (And I still had ten to fifteen hummers at the feeders.)" LF saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk over Lake Mitten on 9/14. CS observed Broad-winged Hawks and Northern Harriers at Aberdeen Proving Ground about the middle of September.

RC had a Sora flush from the impoundment at Swan Harbor just below where he was standing on 7/18 and got a great view of the bird in flight. CS saw a number of Killdeer flying over the air base at APG on 9/15. DL found three juvenile Solitary Sandpipers at Swan Harbor on 7/6 and saw one Spotted Sandpiper at Lakeside ponds near Edgewood on 7/20.

JLF heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling for about ten minutes at 7:30 a.m. behind their home in Pylesville on 8/20 and again at 7:00 a.m. on 9/2. DanW also heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo near the entrance to Steppingstone Museum on the evening of 8/27. He said, "It only called one time, and it sounded kinda' funny." Keep those reports coming, Dan!

JLF had more Barred Owl activity in their woods in Pylesville than other summers. They heard two calling on 8/4 at 10:30 p.m. One called on 8/6 at 4:30 a.m., on 8/7 at 4:45 a.m., on 8/8-8/11, on 8/20 at 3:30 a.m., on 8/21 at 3:30 a.m. followed by an Eastern Screech-Owl at 4:30 a.m. Two Eastern Screech-Owls called from 4:50 until 5:45 a.m. on 8/29, and one was heard on 8/30 and 9/1 at about 4:00 a.m.

LE was seeing a few Common Nighthawks close to dusk around 8/30 near Havre de Grace.

LE noted that he still had a plethora of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds as of 8/30 at his home near Havre de Grace. LD in Bel Air observed that he had quite a bit more hummingbird action this year than last. He had close approaches with wings whirring and "chitting" complaints while he painted on a ladder near one feeder! JLF had fewer hummers at their feeders in Pylesville than last year. They saw their last one for the year on 9/7.

JLF heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee calling incessantly from about 8/27 until 9/5. Could it have been a "juvy" or do the adults call around the time of migration?

LE made the following observation about American Crows near the end of August: "I have seen a couple of crows lately that I suspect may have West Nile Virus. As I was leaving my house a couple of days ago, I passed within ten feet of a crow in my yard. Normally, they do not let me get anywhere near that close. Then this morning (8/28) on the way to work, I almost ran over one. It was standing in the middle of the road and did not seem to even notice the car until I was only a few feet from it. If I had not gone around it, I am sure that I would have hit it. Haven't found any bodies yet, but I will try to take notice if the local population declines." A neighbor of JLF's found two dead crows in Pylesville in early September. It would be interesting to know definitively what effect WNV is having on the rest of the bird population.

RC reported swarms of Purple Martins at APG on 8/8. He also heard a Pine Warbler singing at that location on 8/8. JLF saw a Pine Warbler on Grande View Drive on 9/7. They also found an immature Common Yellowthroat near Lake Mitten on 8/17.

RC had three female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks visiting at a Creswell feeder on 8/12 and 8/13. Great sighting! Although this one doesn't make us happy, CS located a huge flock of between five and seven hundred Brown-headed Cowbirds on APG on 9/15. LD in Bel Air reported almost continuous calling of American Goldfinches. He has had four or five at a time flying between the tops of very tall trees. He assumes that the high-pitched "chipping" is from the juveniles that are still tagging along with their parents. He also noticed that their looping flight seems to match the "bursts" of their distinctive chirps, which is very uplifting.

Individuals who contributed to this column were: John Beever (JB), Rick Cheicante (RC), Lynn Davis (LD), Les Eastman (LE), Jean and Larry Fry (JLF), Dave Larkin (DL), Chris Starling (CS), and Danny Webb (DanW).

The deadline for submissions to the next Harford Birdlife column is Sunday, November 16 for the time period from September 16 until November 15. Please send your sightings to Jean Fry, 1202 Ridge Road, Pylesville, MD 21132. Phone: 410-452-8539. E-mail: ffryjl@aol.com.

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Harford Bird Club
Field Trip Reports

Pop-fly Nighthawks
A chilly, breezy, rainy September evening couldn't stop Bill Collins and I from attending the club's first-ever visit to Ripken Stadium. Our goal was to find Common Nighthawks attracted to the insects swarming about the stadium's bright lights. We were quickly greeted by three nighthawks flying over the adjacent woods! Bill and I then scoured the skies, watching scores of migrating Purple Martins, along with occasional robins and obligatory House Finches. From the adjacent meadow we could here a singing Field Sparrow. But the weather conditions limited the number of insects milling about the lights, and we saw no more nighthawks. Oh, and by the way, the Ironbirds defeated the Williamsport Crosscutters that night, 6-1. Dave Webb

Mariner Park
The day hurricane Isabel came, six hardy people joined me at Mariner Park at 7:30 a.m. The passerines were few in number because of the wind. However, we got some great looks at some good birds. We had five Bald Eagles and numerous Osprey fishing before the storm. Forster's and Caspian Terns showed up looking for a meal. Many Great Blue Herons and a Kingfisher also made an appearance. Some of the smaller birds included Cedar Waxwing and Carolina Wren. It was a pleasant calm before the storm. Tom Congersky

Soldier's Delight
The silence was almost deafening the day after tropical storm Isabel struck our area. For the first hour or so, few birds were seen or heard given the calm, fair weather following the storm. Our first sightings were large numbers of Chimney Swifts that had successfully avoided the winds the following day. Slowly, more birds became active. We had good looks at adult and immature Pine Warblers, and views of Palm, Black and White and Black-throated Green Warblers. Occasionally raptors were seen including a Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk. The trails along the stream where the Fringed gentian have been seen are now closed, probably to help protect the endangered flower. However, with the help of a nearby Baltimore County chapter member, we did find one beginning to bloom where the Serpentine Trail intercepted the stream. Mark Johnson

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October - November 2003

Saturday, October 4
Harford Glen. Join co-leaders Mary Procell and Lynn Davis on a trip though the marshes, fields, and forests of this perennial club favorite. Always a productive location, Swainson's Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green, Palm and Blackpoll Warblers are likely with Lincoln's Sparrow a definite possibility. Meet at the mansion house at 8:00 a.m. Contact Lynn at lynnd@iximd.com or (410-569-0504) for more information.

Saturday, October 11
Susquehanna State Park. Another perennial club favorite this trip sends off the last of the fall migrants and welcomes the arrival of some "cold weather" residents. See thousands of Tree Swallows amassed over the river on their southbound journey and search the forest for Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, and Golden & Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Meet leader Les Eastman at 7:00 a.m. at the Rock Run Mill. Contact les@birdtreks.com for more information.

Sunday, October 12
Brigantine NWR. All day adventure to this birding mega-hotspot consisting of fresh & salt water marshes, sheltered impoundments, open bays, upland brush, and deciduous forest. The roughly 1,600 acres of diked pools and marshland attract great numbers and afford good views of shore and water birds. Brant, Baird's Sandpiper, and Peregrine Falcon are local specialties but that's not all as European waifs, western strays, and windblown pelagics commonly occur. Bring lunch and windbreaker. Meet at the MD 155 and I-95 park-n-ride at 7:00 a.m. Contact leader Dave Larkin at dlarkin@towson.edu for details.

Saturday, October 18
Waggoner's Gap. The club once again returns to this fantastic locale near Carlisle, PA for close views of migrating raptors and beautiful overlooks of fall foliage. While all eastern raptors (including Merlin and Northern Goshawk) are possible, this site has a reputation for being the leading watch on the East Coast for Golden Eagles. All-day, stationary watch; bring lunch. Meet at 7:00 a.m. at the MD 152 and MD 147 park-n-ride. Contact leader Randy Robertson at r.c.robertson@comcast.net.

Saturday, October 25
Swan Harbor Farms. This recently acquired park on the Oakington Peninsula contains a mix of flooded & dry agricultural fields, deciduous woodlands, and brushy meadows. Reliable for Bald Eagle, waterfowl, and Pine Warbler, highlights might also include Golden Plover, Dunlin, or other late shorebirds. Meet at the park headquarters at the end of the entrance road at 8:00 a.m. Contact leader Lynn Davis at lynnd@iximd.com for more details.

Wednesday, October 29
Turkey Point Hawkwatch II. Phil returns to this great local hawk watch to pick up the late migrant raptors that were missed on his last trip. Harrier's, Red-shoulder's, and Red-tail's move through in mass at this time with Rough-legs and Goshawks possible. Meet at the MD 155 and I-95 park-n-ride at 8:00 a.m. Contact Phil Powers at birdsinmd@prodigy.net for more information.

Saturday, November 1
Owl Prowl. Tame nightlife getting you down? Get with the pro's as dynamic duo Deborah Bowers and Tom Congersky lead you through the Harford countryside to make "rarely heard - seldom seen" a thing of your owling past. Great-horned, Barred, and Screech Owls expected with Saw-whet and Long-eared long-shots (but you don't want to be the one that has to hear about it second hand if they do find one, right?). Dress warm and meet Debbie and Tom at the Eden Mill mill house at 5:30 p.m. Contact bowerspub@hotmail.com for more details.

Saturday, November 8
Harford Waterfowl Tour. Marvel at thousands of Lesser Scaup and search for species that are tough to find locally, such as Surf Scoter, Redhead, Long-tailed Duck, and Northern Shoveler. Beginners interested in learning the basics of waterfowl identification and experienced watchers searching for rarities will enjoy this morning trip to the Gunpowder River and Havre de Grace. Scopes are helpful, although not necessary. Contact trip leader Dave Webb at (410-939-3537) by November 1 for details and to register for the trip.

Sunday, November 16
Joppatowne Hotspots. Marshland, riverside forest, coastal plain pine forest, fallow fields, marinas, and a large deepwater impoundment make a winning formula for winter birding. Phil Powers will lead this trip visiting some of these habitats in hopes of locating puddle & diving ducks, winter gulls, Bald Eagle, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Tree Sparrow, and others. Meet at Mariner Point Park near the pavilion at the back parking lot at 7:30 a.m. Contact Phil at birdsinmd@prodigy.net for details.

Saturday, November 22
Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Get your winter grove on and join experienced co-leaders Jean and Larry Fry to explore this prime winter birding area fronting the Chesapeake Bay in Kent County. Excellent for swans, bay ducks, raptors, and winter songbirds. Dress warm and bring lunch. Meet at the MD 155 and I-95 park-n-ride at 6:30 a.m. Contact FFryjl@aol.com for details.

Saturday, November 29
Conowingo Gull Watch. Conowingo is one of the best locations for mid-Atlantic winter birding as tens of eagles, hundreds of ducks, and thousands of gulls flock to this hydroelectric fish cuisinart. Join expert leader Dennis Kirkwood and learn how to pick out Lesser Black-backed & northern gulls and if you're lucky find Peregrine Falcons and Golden Eagles in the process. Scopes are helpful. Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Fisherman's Park at the bottom (east end) of Shures Landing Road. Contact Dennis at dkirkw@ bellatlantic.net for more information.

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Dark-eyed Junco

They arrive in late fall
Foretelling the cold
Slate-gray like the sky
Snowy-white below

Their bills are pinkish
Tails trimmed in white
That distinguish our guests
When they are in flight

Friendly and lively
Never alone
A metallic "Tzeet"
Makes their presence known

They scurry about
Looking for seeds
In bush-covered fields
And garden weeds

When warm winds blow
They venture forth
Joining their cousins
They head back north

Please send any comments to Les Eastman.
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