WRENDERINGS The Newsletter of the Harford Bird Club

Volume 17 Number 3

May - June 2004

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


Summer Social Presents: The Shetland Islands and Wales
Dave Webb's "Harford Big Day"
A Special Thank You
Book Review: Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
Calendar of Events
Harford Bird Club Field Notes...
Harford Birdlife
Field Trip Reports

Summer Social Presents: The Shetland Islands and Wales

Spring in Harford County is just so beautiful. Susquehanna State Park was once more painted with colorful spring wildflowers like Trillium, Virginia Bluebells, May Apples and Spring Beauties. I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the flowers as well as the warbler migration.

This is the year of the 17 Year Cicada. As of this writing there are none in my neighborhood, though I don't know why. I know many of you are inundated with them. Dave Webb is actually trying to track which bird species eat the critters. Let him know what you observe.

Our Summer Social will be held at Anita Leight Estuary Center on Friday, July 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Please come and share in some light refreshments and camaraderie. Jean & Larry Fry will entertain us with a presentation about their travels to The Shetland Islands and Wales. The program will depict their 2000 trip to Great Britain. Their first stop was the Shetland Islands, where they toured the main island, Yell and Unst. Highlights include Hermaness, Sumburgh Head, ponies, North Sea oil, Gannets, Puffins, Fulmars, Dunlin, wild flowers, sheep and Muckle Fluga. Just finding out what Muckle Fluga is, is worth the price of admission! Their next destination was the Lake District and then Wales including Holy Island and Snowdonia. Come and hear the Fry's regale us once more with their travel adventures and enjoy Larry's expert photography. Jean Wheeler

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Dave Webb's "Harford Big Day"

At midnight, Jim Stasz, Dave Webb, Mike Burchett, and I shoved off into the Gunpowder in Dave's canoe. Our first bird was a flyover Least Sandpiper, "kreep!". We began flushing cormorants, Great Blue Herons, geese, and ducks on the way out to the marsh. Our first "marsh" birds were the numerous singing Marsh Wrens, but the rails were silent that night. The nocturnal flight of thrushes was consistent, with lots of Swainson's Thrushes, several Gray-cheeks, and a few Veeries. The biggest bonus bird of the night was a flyover Dunlin that gave its flight call. After a lot more paddling, we were rewarded with a calling Least Bittern and decided it was time to head back inland. Next up was APG for Whip-poor-will, which was easily heard thanks to Dave's scouting efforts during the week. For predawn and dawn, we chose Perryman to hopefully find our needed field species. Grasshopper Sparrows and Woodcock began calling at 4:30 as scheduled. A bonus Barred Owl sounded off from inside the proving ground. As light began to peak over the horizon, dawn chorus set in and we began adding species by the dozen. We heard the needed Field Sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks, and Chats, but the hoped for Turkey and Bobwhite failed to call.

It was onto Susquehanna SP via Webster for Meadowlark and Red-shouldered Hawk. The birds of Susquehanna were much easier than expected with Cerulean, Prothonotary, and Kentucky all being heard from the car. Migrants were nearly nonexistent, with singles of Chestnut-sided Warbler and Rose-breasted Grosbeak and lots of Blackpolls. A Worm-eating Warbler was unexpected on the ridge near the mouth of Deer Creek and Yellow-throated was surprisingly difficult with only a single bird near the entrance to the picnic area. A travel down to the campground entrance did not produce Turkey or woodpeckers, but a Screech-owl was coerced into calling. Conowingo Dam had ZERO gulls!!! We did add Black Vulture and a flyover Common Loon. Mike had to take off at this point to play lacrosse for CMW and would rejoin us later in the day.

We headed into the Broad Creek area and found Pileated and Hairy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, and singing Hooded and Canada Warblers. The Cliff Swallows returned to the Rt. 623 bridge over the creek and made for an easy tick. This is where is the birding got cold and the weather hot. We meandered over to Falling Branch where Prairie and Blue-winged Warblers were singing from the new parking lot. We had roadside stops that yielded Willow Flycatcher and singing Bay-breasted Warbler, which was our last migrant passerine of the day. Harford Glen was slow, but we did add Great Egret, Merlin, Greater Yellowlegs, and Brown Thrasher. A 2-hour watch of the Tydings flats was moderately productive, but couldn't bring us up from our midday low. Kingfisher, Caspian Tern, and the usual gulls were all new for the day. A single Bonaparte's Gull and flyby Black-bellied Plover were the best finds during the sit. Mike rejoined us before we left.

Swan Harbor was next after a brief stop for Pine Warbler in Oakington. Swan Harbor was better than expected and provided a much needed afternoon morale boost. With a simple walk around the impoundment we found Savannah Sparrow, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Wilson's Snipe, Sora, Blue-winged Teal, and King Rail. The King Rail was amazing, with point blank views right along the dike and on an open mudflat. Next up was Mute Swan and Green Heron along Rt. 40, and Least Tern and Killdeer at Lakeside Ponds. We tried Bosley Conservancy for migrants, but no luck. Finally, we ended the day by canoeing the Gunpowder again. We were able to pick up Black-crowned Night-Heron, Common Nighthawk, and Black Duck. We tried for Virginia Rail with no success, but we did have a spontaneously calling Black Rail!!! The bird gave its growl sequence several times which is something I've only heard 3 times before. The growl call is used while the bird is agitated, so I presume that there was a predator in the area since we were not playing any tapes. Great Horned Owl was our last bird of the night because a torrential downpour ended our plans of canoeing the Bush River. We ended the day with 138 species which we thought to be pretty respectable for the first year. Our biggest miss was American Kestrel, which we thought we'd see along the route, next year we'll know to stake one out. With more scouting, better migration, and our knowledge from this year, we should be able to eventually break 150. It was a great time and we all hope to improve next year. Matt Hafner

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A Special Thank You

Larry and I would like to thank the Harford County Bird Club for the Lifetime Service Award plaque, the beautiful pair of Vincenti Bufflehead decoys, and the kind words you bestowed upon us at the March meeting. We were truly surprised, deeply touched, and are ever grateful for all of the fun, friendship, and great birding that we have shared with many of you. The plaque and the decoys will always be reminders of our association with this wonderful group of people. Since we will not be too far away, we are hoping that we can keep in touch and that you will all feel welcome to contact us when you are in the vicinity of Ocean Pines sometime after this September. Thanks for the memories! Jean Fry

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Book Review: Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams

This book was recommended to me by a new member of our club, Colleen Webster. This is a description from the back cover: "In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same spring, Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and with it the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950's. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that seems certain to become a classic in the literatures of women, nature and grieving." Each chapter has the name of a bird as the title. The reader can feel the author's frustration with human cures and corrections, as well as her delight with the ability of nature to rebound and heal both itself and others. In addition to enlightening one about the Great Salt Lake and both its native and migratory birds, Williams gently weaves her beliefs and philosophies throughout the book. It is available at Barnes and Noble or through Interlibrary Loan and is well worth your time. Jean Fry

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Calendar of Events

June 11 - 14MOS Conference
July 16 Summer Social at Anita Leight
July 16 Deadline - Harford Birdlife
July 23 Deadline - Wrenderings
September 11 Picnic at Broad Creek

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Harford Bird Club Field Notes...

Welcome New Members - The Harford Bird Club would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest members:

John Gallo
Thomas P. Gibson

Education Activities: 2003 - 2004 - The following presentations were made in this past club year:
1. Four 15-20 minute programs on the local TV cable channel's Homework 411 show---one on bird identification; one on feeding birds; two on bird migration.
2. A one-hour slide program on the Birds of Harford County at Harford Community College on Earth Day.
3. A one-hour slide program on the Birds of Harford County for the residents at Catered Living in Rock Spring.
4. A display at North Harford High School for their Wetlands Day.
5. A one hour slide program on the Birds of Harford County at the Bel Air Library.
We did not receive any requests for programs at elementary schools this year. Jean Fry

Glen Meadows Bird Walk - The Glen Meadows bird walk was attended by 20 persons; 9 members of the Harford Club and 11 G.M. residents. The Frys arrived and immediately spotted our first birds. Forty to 50 Bobolinks were in the meadow just inside the main entrance. All of us had a chance to see them well , either on the ground , in the grasses, or on the wires. The rest of the walk provided us with 38 other species, including several Baltimore Orioles ,both seen and heard ; Eastern Towhee, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow- billed Cuckoo ,heard. A black snake joined us at one time, but seemed happy to leave our group. My special thanks to Larry and Jean and the club members who were so helpful to the G.M. residents. J. Williams

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Image of a Wren over outline of Harford County
Harford Birdlife
Mar. 16, 2004 - May. 15, 2004
by Dave Webb

The spring 2004 season was chock full of many good bird sightings in Harford County, including several exceptional species. Little Gulls, a rare but regular migrant along the Susquehanna River each spring, were seen at Lapidum starting with a single adult on Mar 20 (MH & ZB), two more on Mar 23 (MH), and a final adult on Mar 29 (MB, JBC, & MH). These gulls were seen in the company of numerous Bonaparte's Gulls heading upriver, with a peak of 850 Bonies observed on Mar 23 (MH). LE visited Lapidum on Mar 25 hoping to see Little Gulls, but instead found a different rare avis - two Red-necked Grebes calmly resting on the river!

The rarities continued into April with DL stumbling upon a first-winter Yellow-headed Blackbird at his backyard feeder in Abingdon on the 10th. One week later, JB & HH were birding at Tydings Marina in Havre de Grace when they spotted two American White Pelicans high overhead, flying up the Susquehanna River. On Apr 24, MB & JS were canoeing in the Gunpowder Delta when they discovered a pair of Seaside Sparrows. This species has bred as far north in the Chesapeake as Hart-Miller Island, so these sparrows are presumed to be overshoot migrants. Or, could they be extending their breeding range even further northward? And finally, DW heard a Black Rail near APG's Phillips Airfield in the early AM hours of Apr 29. With the sprinkling of Black Rail reports in Harford County over the last decade, might this enigmatic species be pushing northward, too?

And now, following the AOU's latest checklist sequence, here's the best of the rest...

WATERFOWL: Ducks frequented the eastern half of the county during their northbound migration. High- count flocks were seen at Forest Greens in Perryman for Gadwall (106, Mar 20, ZB & MH), American Wigeon and Northern Shoveler (45 & 3 respectively, Mar 19, DW). Swan Harbor hosted the highest numbers of Blue-winged Teal (25, Apr 16, RC), Green-winged Teal (160, Apr 10, FJG) and Northern Pintail (20, Mar 20, ZB & MH). Other noteworthy sightings of dabblers include a flock of 24 American Wigeon at Harford Glen (Apr 10, FJG), a pair of Blue-wings at Pylesville's Lake Mitten (Apr 4, JLF), and 4 Blue-wings at Lakeside Business Park (Apr 18, DL). RC found a high count of 6 adult Wood Ducks at Harford Glen on Apr 13, and on May 9 JH photographed a hen with 6 ducklings at Concord Cove.

Peak numbers for diving ducks included 64 Ring-necks at the Rts. 40 & 24 pond (Mar 20, KG), approximately 1000 Lesser Scaup scattered between Hog and Maxwell Points (Mar 25, MJ), 20 Greater Scaup and 125 Bufflehead off Chilbury Point (Apr 9, DW), 18 Common Mergansers on Conowingo Lake (Mar 20, ZB & MH), 50 Red-breasted Mergansers at Lapidum (Mar 23, MH), and 8 Ruddy Ducks on the Gunpowder River (Mar 28, RC). Inland, there were 6 Ring-necks at Lake Mitten on Apr 5 (JLF), and a lone Lesser Scaup at Harford Glen on Apr 25 (BJD). Hooded Merganser pairs were observed at Forest Greens (Mar 20, ZB & MH), Lake Mitten (Apr 5, JLF), and Swan Harbor (Apr 10, FJG).

The final flock of migrating Snow Geese, comprised of 45 birds, was seen over Swan Harbor on Mar 29 (MB, JBC & MH). Resident Canada Geese nested at Lake Mitten, with LF spotting 4 adults and 4 goslings on Apr 26. Mute Swans continued their progression into eastern Harford County as a nesting pair was reported from the Rts. 40 & 24 pond on Mar 20 (KG). MJ saw another pair on Mar 25 near Wright Creek, a traditional breeding area.

GAMEBIRDS: As we witness the extirpation of Northern Bobwhite from Harford County, there is small comfort in knowing that they still have a stronghold at Aberdeen Proving Ground. DW heard approximately 5 quail calling at Michaelsville on May 2. A "rafter" of 7 Wild Turkeys was at Maxwell Point on Apr 9 (CS), while back at Michaelsville on Apr 27, 3 gobblers were displaying to each other (DW). dW was amazed to see a "tom" running through his Webster backyard on Apr 17.

LOONS, GREBES & CORMORANTS: Several reports of migrating Common Loons came in, starting on Mar 28 with a pair over Forest Greens (MB, JBC & MH). On Apr 11, CS found 8 loons on the Gunpowder River, and four days later JLF even had one on Lake Mitten. MJ watched 12 migrate over his Glen Elyn house on Apr 18, then saw a pair over Eden Mill later that same day. RK & DZ independently noted up to 20 very vocal loons streaming over Joppatowne before sunrise on Apr 19. The high count of Common Loons was 30 birds over Michaelsville on the morning of Apr 27 (DW). From this same area, DW heard a Pied-billed Grebe calling regularly between Mar 17 and May 8. A calling Pied-bill was also noted on Mar 29 at Swan Harbor where this species bred last year (MB, JBC & MH). Flocks of 15 Horned Grebes were found at both Lapidum (Mar 23, MH) and Chilbury Point (Apr 9, DW).

Double-crested Cormorants began trickling in at the base of Conowingo Dam on Mar 24 (8, BR), and by Apr 21 the population there had peaked to about 1000 (LE).

HERONS & IBISES: Accounts of uncommon herons during the period included the welcome return of 12 Black-crowned Night-Herons to Rowland Island (Apr 14, CC). The only Great Egret recorded was one near Mulberry Point (Apr 16, DW); JG found our only Little Blue Heron, an adult at Swan Harbor on Apr 20. Green Herons were observed at Lakeside Business Park (1, Apr 18, DL) and Harford Glen (2, Apr 25, BJD). Two Cattle Egrets made brief appearances at APG - the first on Spesutie Island (14 Apr, DW) and the other at Weide Airfield (10 May, DS). DW discovered a solo Glossy Ibis at Mulberry Point on Apr 16, and then saw 8 of them feeding at Swan Harbor on Apr 26.

HAWKS: Nesting Ospreys are common along the county's tributaries - just ask CS. On Mar 29 he observed that 10 of 14 nesting platforms encountered on a drive around APG-EA had at least one parent. On a similar drive 11 days later, he tallied a total of 28 Ospreys on post. On May 6, DZ witnessed peculiar behavior among 8 Ospreys over a small field near Kings Creek. The "flock" called and peacefully interacted in a tight grouping less than 40 feet above ground. Within 15 minutes, they loosely disbanded as pairs and flew off in separate directions! Further north on Apr 9, AJH watched an Osprey defend its nesting territory and chase off a Bald Eagle, who actually was harassing Great Blue Herons at the Tydings Island rookery. CC noted 2 adult and 6 immature eagles between Rock Run and Conowingo Dam on Apr 14. Inland, single Bald Eagles were seen over Glen Elyn (Apr 18, MJ) and perched in a tree near Lake Mitten (Apr 27, LF).

Under the talons of a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a White-throated Sparrow bought the farm at Webster on Mar 19 (MW). CS found 3 Sharpies and a kettle of 15 Broad-winged Hawks migrating over APG-EA on Apr 9, and 2 northbound Cooper's Hawks there on Apr 11. One week later, MJ spotted a pair of migrating Coops over Eden Mill, as well as 30 Broad-winged Hawks. Other Broad-wings were identified on Apr 17 over Pylesville (15, LF). By May 10, three downy Red-shouldered Hawk chicks had finally grown tall enough to peer out of their nest in Webster and exchange glances with dW. Swan Harbor continued to be a good location for falcons, evidenced by a female Merlin (Mar 19, DW & MW), a male Merlin (Apr 10, FJG), and 3 American Kestrels perched on the telephone wires (Apr 12, JG). CS had an enviable encounter with a Merlin at Weide Airfield on Mar 29 when the bird flew at eye level and at the same speed his truck was traveling!

RAILS: The first of these most secretive species to be found was a Sora at Swan Harbor on Apr 10 (FJG). Their numbers there grew to 3 by Apr 26 (MB). The wetlands of APG are ideal rail habitat, and this spring the birds did not disappoint (DW). For example, a Virginia Rail grunted from a marsh along Romney Creek (Apr 20), and King Rails were heard at two locations: along Cod Creek (1, Apr 30) and near Michaelsville (3, May 4). This latter location on the same date also yielded 3 Soras.

SHOREBIRDS: Wilson's Snipe continued to be found at various locations. For example, KG saw 8 at the Rts. 40 & 24 pond (Mar 20), and FJG kicked up a high of 30 birds at Swan Harbor (10 Apr). Later in the period, snipe were even heard giving their winnowing call from Romney and Delph Creeks (Apr 16 & 30 respectively, DW). A surprise American Woodcock was flushed from undergrowth at the headwaters of Lake Mitten (Mar 20, JLF), and 6 males simultaneously displayed over a meadow near Phillips Airfield (Apr 29, DW).

Arrival dates for migrant shorebirds included Mar 20 for Greater Yellowlegs (2, Swan Harbor, ZB & MH), Apr 16 for Lesser Yellowlegs (1, Spesutie Island, DW), Apr 16 for Solitary Sandpiper (2, APG-EA horse pasture, CS), Apr 18 for Spotted Sandpiper (1, Harford Glen, BJD), Apr 24 for Least Sandpiper (4, Lakeside Business Park, DL), and Apr 30 for Semipalmated Plover (2, Tydings Island, JH). Other noteworthy sightings include 4 not-so-solitary Solitary Sandpipers at Lakeside Business Park (Apr 24, DL) and 6 Spotted Sandpipers at Lake Mitten (Apr 30, LF). The only exceptionally high shorebird count came from MW who found a flock of 55 Killdeer at Swan Harbor on Mar 19. DW eyed 2 downy Killdeer chicks (plus 2 irate parents) at Phillips Airfield on Apr 29.

GULLS & TERNS: Gull numbers remained lower than usual this spring. Top counts were 38 Ring-bills at Otter Creek (Mar 20, KG), and 14 Herring and 28 Great Black-backs both at Conowingo (Mar 24, BR). Five migrant Laughing Gulls passed over Webster on May 2 (DW). Caspian Terns first arrived on Apr 9 (2, Watson Creek, CS), and their peak number was 75 (May 6, Tydings Island, LE).

CUCKOOS, OWLS, GOATSUCKERS & HUMMINGBIRDS: First reports of both cuckoo species came from up north in Pylesville - on May 1 JLF heard their first Yellow-bill, and on May 12 LF heard the more uncommon Black-bill. As is often the case, LE earned bragging rights for the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the county, when a male and a female visited his home near Susquehanna SP on Apr 22 - the male hummer was already performing his U-shaped display flight! The first Whip-poor-wills returned on Apr 20 to Bridge Creek (DW). JLF reported the only Eastern Screech-Owls after they heard a single bird tremoloing near their Pylesville home on the morning of Apr 17. Great Horned Owls successfully nested near Conowingo Dam, with 2 downy chicks documented on Apr 8 (LE).

WOODPECKERS: The most exciting woodpecker sighting came from DS who saw two adult Red-headed Woodpeckers near Kings Creek on Mar 25; however these birds did not remain into the breeding season. JLF found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers in woods near their Pylesville home on Apr 21. The only Yellow-bellied Sapsucker report was of a single bird on Apr 10 at Harford Glen (FJG).

FLYCATCHERS & VIREOS: Returning single Eastern Phoebes turned up at Lapidum (Mar 20, ZB & MH), Pylesville (Mar 26, JLF), and APG-EA (28 Mar, RC). The spring's first White-eyed Vireo showed up at Michaelsville on Apr 20 (DW). Blue-headed Vireos seemed tough to come by, as individuals at Susquehanna SP (Apr 26, RC & May 10, CS) were the only ones reported. The keen eyes of CS spied a very early Red-eyed Vireo nest at Rock Run on May 6.

LARKS & SWALLOWS: Swan Harbor yielded the only Horned Lark sightings: a pair on Mar 20 (ZB & MH), and again on Apr 10 (FJG). The next day, a flight of Tree Swallows over the Susquehanna River at Rock Run was estimated at 1000 birds (RC). Small flights of Northern Rough-winged Swallows included 5 at APG-EA (Apr 9, CS) and 7 at Harford Glen (Apr 13, RC).

NUTHATCHES, WRENS & THRUSHES: Single Red-breasted Nuthatches made appearances at backyards near Susquehanna SP (Mar 28, LE), at Webster (Mar 29, MW), and at Harkins (Apr 7, DO). The last Winter Wrens were reported from Swan Harbor on Apr 10 (2, FJG), and were replaced on Apr 18 by the first returning House Wrens, heard giggling at Creswell (RC) and Harford Glen (BJD). RC found 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers at Harford Glen on Apr 10, and MJ banded another 3 at Eden Mill on Apr 18. LE declared Apr 7 a good morning for bluebirds near Susquehanna SP, culminated by two exploring a nestbox on his property. The first returning Wood Thrush was a singing male in Pylesville (Apr 24, JLF). Few reports of Catharus thrushes came in - LE heard a singing Swainson's Thrush near Susquehanna campground on May 10. That same morning, DW watched a Swainson's Thrush and Veery feeding together in Webster. DW also heard a singing Gray-cheeked Thrush near Aldino on May 14.

MIMIC THRUSHES, PIPITS & WAXWINGS: Brown Thrashers returned to Harford County in early April with a singing male discovered in Pylesville (Apr 5, JLF). LE found a thrasher at Susquehanna SP two days later, and on May 4 observed a pair of Gray Catbirds in his backyard eating suet. JG counted a large flock of about 60 Cedar Waxwings at Swan Harbor Farm on Apr 14, and DW saw 30 American Pipits flying over Bradenbaugh on Apr 25.

WARBLERS: At the better-than-halfway mark, the consensus was that this year's warbler migration is a rather weak one. Whether due to unfavorable weather conditions, an actual drop-off in populations, or some other reason, several species went unreported and the others were overall less numerous. First-arrival dates included: Mar 23 for Pine Warbler (APG-EA, RC); Apr 7 for Louisiana Waterthrush (Susquehanna SP, LE); Apr 10 for Palm Warbler (Harford Glen, FJG); Apr 18 for Prairie Warbler (Eden Mill, MJ); Apr 20 for Ovenbird (Michaelsville, DW); Apr 25 for Northern Parula (photographed at Susquehanna SP, MnH), and for both Blue-winged and Black-and-white Warblers (Harford Glen, BJD). On Apr 26 at Susquehanna SP, RC spotted the first-arriving Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, Black- throated Green, Cerulean, and Worm-eating Warblers. Other first sightings include Apr 27 for Northern Waterthrush (Michaelsville, DW); Apr 30 for Yellow-breasted Chat (Delph Creek, DW); and May 10 for Magnolia, Prothonotary and Blackpoll Warblers (Susquehanna campground, LE), and for Blackburnian Warbler (Webster, DW). Also of note was a "mini fallout" observed by DZ on May 6 near Kings Creek containing 3 Worm-eating and about 10 Black-throated Blue Warblers in a one-acre tract! Backyard sightings included an eastern race Palm Warbler at Glen Elyn (Apr 18, MJ) and a Nashville Warbler at Webster (May 9, DW).

SPARROWS & GROSBEAKS: On Mar 20 JLF enjoyed the delightful sounds of 3 singing Fox Sparrows at Lake Mitten; further south that same day KG found a single Fox Sparrow at the Leight Center. While searching a Perryman cornfield on Mar 28 containing about 25 Savannah Sparrows, MB, JBC & MH located a rare Vesper Sparrow. An additional 20 Savannah Sparrows were counted at Swan Harbor on Apr 16 (RC). Backyard first sightings of Chipping Sparrows were celebrated in Pylesville (Mar 26, JLF), Cooptown (Apr 6, MjH), and Glen Elyn (Apr 16, MJ). LE noted that a Chippy at his home near Susquehanna SP enjoyed picking seeds out of suet cakes (May 4). Another favorite backyard visitor during migration is the White-crowned Sparrow - single birds were reported from Harkins (Apr 7, DO), near Susquehanna SP (May 4, LE) and Glen Elyn (May 9, MJ). Grasshopper Sparrows first turned up at the World Famous Bradenbaugh Flats on 25 Apr (2, DW).

The most striking of our backyard visitors in the spring is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. MjH reported 3 males at her Cooptown feeder on Apr 25; the next day MW had 2 males and a female visit her sunflower offering in Webster, and RC saw 2 males at his Creswell feeder. MJ joined in the fun at Glen Elyn (1 male, Apr 30), as did JLF in Pylesville (5, May 8) who noted that in addition to sunflower, their grosbeaks dined on nuts and dried fruit. MjH's grosbeaks stayed for nearly a week and after their departure were replaced at the sunflower feeder by two Indigo Buntings on May 5. The first sighting of Blue Grosbeak was on the very early date of Apr 25 (Bradenbaugh, DW).

BLACKBIRDS & FINCHES: Arrival dates for migrant icterids included Eastern Meadowlark on Apr 10 (Weide Airfield, CS), Orchard Oriole on Apr 26 (Rock Run, RC), and Baltimore Oriole on Apr 30 (Pylesville, LF). CS counted as many as 20 different Baltimore Orioles (that's just 5 short of a full roster) at Susquehanna SP on May 6. Purple Finches passed through in flocks, making feeder stops at Harkins (5, Apr 7, DO), Forest Hill (12, Apr 11, BJD), and Webster (9, Apr 16, DW). Pine Siskins leftover from the winter remained at backyard feeders in Pylesville until Apr 12 (max 3, JLF), and in Webster until Apr 5 (max 2, DW).

We wrap up this edition with the sighting of an odd mammal at Susquehanna State Park on Apr 26. This mammal, Birderus dedicati, was observed in the late afternoon during a rain storm by a mixed flock of songbirds comprised of a Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo. Seen at times from as close as 4 feet, it could only be described as having a dripping wet outer layer. It held in one appendage a protective canopy over its head to keep dry, and in the other a set of double eyeball extenders. This mammal was occasionally heard making a repeated "pssh" sound, which is believed to be either the territorial call or breeding call of the species (Editor's Note: I happen to be familiar with this mammal and know; the "pssh" call is definitely not a breeding call).

CONTRIBUTORS: Zach Baur (ZB), Jim Brighton (JB), Mike Burchette (MB), Chuck Chalfant (CC), Rick Cheicante (RC), JB Churchill (JBC), Bob & Jan Depuy (BJD), Les Eastman (LE), Jean & Larry Fry (JLF), Larry Fry (LF), Frank & John Gallo (FJG), John Gallo (JG), Kevin Graff (KG), Matt Hafner (MH), Monroe Harden (MnH), Marjorie Heagy (MjH), Alice & Jim Hirvonen (AJH), Jim Hirvonen (JH), Hans Holbrook (HH), Mark Johnson (MJ), Russ Kovach (RK), Dave Larkin (DL), Dave Oktavec (DO), Bob Ringler (BR), Don Soubie (DS), Chris Starling (CS), Jim Stasz (JS), Daniel Webb (dW), Dave Webb (DW), Marsha Webb (MW), Dave Ziolkowski (DZ).

Please email your sightings of the usual and the unusual to porzana@comcast.net, or snailmail them to Dave Webb, 4141 Quail Way, Havre de Grace, 21078. The timeframe for the next column is May 16 thru Jul 15. Thanks to everyone who contributed so much to this column - my apologies for those reports left on the cutting room floor. I easily omitted about half the submissions!

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Harford Bird Club
Field Trip Reports

Jerusalem Mill
April 18: Thirty-one species doesn't sound like a good day birding but we got THRUSHED. Six birders enjoyed a beautiful day to start migration movement. We were overwhelmed by a flock of hermit thrushes moving north. The total is one flock numbered twelve. We added two brown thrashers, two northern, and one Louisiana water thrush. Our song birder were down probably due to sharp-shinned hawks passing thru the trees. Over all we had a good time and fellowship, We all looked forward to the next trip. Phil Powers

Susquehanna State Park
April 24: If we looked at it, we tried to ID it. And I mean everything! Thankfully, this skilled group of almost twenty came to explore, share, and have fun. Wildflowers, ferns, trees, fungi, butterflies, and of course, birds, were all in play. In the end, after the plethora of names and all of the numbers, we turned into a group of friends who just generally liked hanging out in the woods together. Rick Cheicante

Eden Mill
April 25: Four birders met on a bright but cloudy April 25 at Eden Mill for a walk along Deer Creek and its transitional hillsides and woodland. The great diversity of habitat here gave us a green heron, sanderling, common yellowthroat, blue-winged warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, prairie warbler, parula, eastern towhee, catbird, phoebe, and others. Debbie Bowers

Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve
May 1: Eight birders set out to Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in search of migrants and wildflowers. The birding was light on this day however, with very few migrants making an appearance. Very cooperative Wood Thrushes, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Ovenbirds highlighted the bird action. Late-blooming trillium and countless fern species were also enjoyed along the journey. A side trip to the astounding Pinnacle Overlook, a 500-foot tall cliff overlooking the Susquehanna River, ended the trip to this scenic region of Lancaster County. Russ Kovach

Swan Harbor Farms
May 2: Eight bright spirited birders convened on this misty overcast day to find early migrants and slightly preoccupied breeders. The low cloud cover worked in our favor as it was easy to spot displaying horned larks; males steeply ascending to a hundred feet or so before embarking on a minute long bout of circling, hovering, and singing, only to drop steeply to the ground. Other field birds included Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Bald Eagle, and #10 looks at Savanna Sparrow. Forest birds included Wood Thrush, Parula, Redstart, Blk-th Blue, Blk-th Green, Blk & Wht, and Yel-rumped Warblers. Late stayers lucked out in finding Common Snipe and close looks at a handful of Sora Rails. Dave Ziolkowski

Harford Glen
May 9: We Mother's Day 2004 provided fine spring weather for a rewarding tour of this central Harford County wetland/forest preserve. It was cool and overcast for the first 90 minutes, but was bright, sunny, and warm for the rest of the morning. Our group of seven heard lots of calls without much motion early on, but the action picked-up with the clearing weather. Strong wetland and shore bird activity included perching snowy and great egrets; great blue and green heron; solitary, least, and spotted sandpiper; a cluster of six yellowlegs providing a revealing contrast between the greater and lesser varieties; a flock of 6 double- crested cormorants flying over, least tern, Canada goose, mallard, red-winged blackbird and starling. Warblers were plentiful, but most of them were the colorful and active yellow-rumped with good looks at black & white, American redstart, common yellowthroat, northern parula, and frequent calls from ovenbird. Then we had a very special 10-minute show performed by a male pileated woodpecker and an audacious northern flicker who seemed to be challenging the pileated for a nest site in a tree not far from us. Thrushes included robin, wood thrush, and after consulting a reference and getting a good long look we decided it was not a gray-cheeked, but a Bicknell's thrush. We were treated to very nice views of Baltimore oriole (both genders), orchard oriole, and a pair of scarlet tanagers. Other nice birds were chipping and song sparrows, tree & barn swallows, chimney swift, r.-e. & w-e. vireos, eastern kingbird, acadian flycatcher, blue gray gnatcatcher, goldfinch, catbird, cardinal, mockingbird, chickadee, blue jay, white- breasted nuthatch, hummingbird, titmouse, red tailed hawk, and turkey vulture for a grand total of 51 species. Hooray for Harford Glen!. Lynn Davis

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June - August 2004

Saturday, June 19: Nest Searching the Scenic Gunpowder: Peak in on the home lives of some local birds as biologist Mark Johnson helps you to develop an eye for their cryptic nests and tell-tale behaviors. Discussion will also focus on how to monitor nests safely and on turning your observations into valuable records through the nest card initiative. Meet at the Jerusalem Mill at 7:00 a.m. Call Mark for more information.

Saturday, June 26: Huntley Meadows: Nestled in Fairfax County's Hybla Valley, the vast wetlands and majestic forests of Huntley Meadows Park are well known for providing some of the best wildlife watching in the D. C. area. Highlights are likely to include breeding King Rail, Least Bittern, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron with the distinct possibility of locating Mississippi Kite. Bring lunch, repellent, and sunscreen for this 3/4-day trip with easy walking. Meet at 7:00 a.m. at the MD 152 & I-95 Park & Ride. Call leader Randy Robertson for more information.

Saturday, July 31: Twilight Canoeing at Eden Mill: Take in a warm summer evening of natural history and easy exercise along one of upper Deer Creek's most scenic stretches. Dave Ziolkowski and natural historian/expert canoeist Frank Marsden interpret the sights, sounds, and smells to make this a multisensory experience. Trip meets at 4:30 p.m. but space is limited so make reservations before trip date. $5 fee goes towards club donation to nature center. Contact Dave at (djziolkowski@yahoo.com) for information and reservations.

Sunday, August 15 Pot Luck Shorebirds. Where will Dennis Kirkwood's crystal ball tell us to go this time? Presque Isle? Jamaica Bay? Pea Island? Most likely Bombay Hook…but you'll not know for sure until the meeting at 7:00 a.m. at the MD 152 & I-95 Park & Ride. Bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and lunch for this 3/4-day journey in search of shorebirds and the hottest rarities. Scopes helpful, but not necessary. Call Dennis for further information.

Saturday, August 21 Harford Shorebirds. Join experienced shorebirder Dave Webb to see that southbound shorebirds, such as Semipalmated Plovers, Solitary, and Pectoral Sandpipers aren't all plain brown. Beginners interested in learning the basics of shorebird identification and experienced watchers searching for rarities will enjoy this morning trip to Havre de Grace and neighboring sites. Scopes are helpful, although not necessary. Meet at the Tydings Marina at 7:00 a.m. and call trip leader Dave Webb for details.

Saturday, August 28 Butterflies and Dragonflies of Harford County. Join Rick Cheicante for this very leisurely half day foray to one of Harford County's local butterfly and dragonfly haunts. Butterflies may include the showy swallowtails, Monarch, and Viceroy as well as the diminutive hairstreaks and challenging grass skippers. Odonate hopefuls include Common Green Darner, Eastern Pondhawk, Black Saddlebags and the resplendent Halloween Pennant. Call Rick for all the details. Sunny day only!

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Please return to Eileen Nack, 8 Cresmont Drive, Aberdeen MD 21001 by Wednesday, July 7, 2004. __________ Number of adults ( at $5.00 each ) __________ Number of children 12 and under ( at $3.00 each ) Please make checks payable to Harford County MOS. ______________________________ Print your name(s) Include address and phone number if you would like transportation to the meeting. _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ TEL:___________________________

Harford Bird Club - Summer Social
Friday, July 16, 2004
Anita Leight Estuary Center
6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Guest Speaker:
Jean and Larry Fry
Harford Bird Club

"The Shetland Islands and Wales"

R.S.V.P. by July 7, 2004
Eileen Nack, 8 Cresmont Drive, Aberdeen, MD 21001

Please send any comments to Les Eastman.
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