Volume 19 Number 2
March - April 2006
It is amazing how often weather is the first thing to come to mind when birding. An unimaginably warm January lead us into a chilly and very dry February and March. But even as we fight the recent cold snaps it is hard to forget that spring and warbler watching is quickly on its way! Pine Warblers were back in force on Dave Webb's 'Harford Waterfowl Tour', and it undoubtedly is any day now before Palm and Yellow-throated Warblers start making their presence known. The Osprey are back on the upper Chesapeake, and the Bonaparte's Gulls have begun their congregation along the Susquehanna River, easily observed from Lapidum Landing. The busiest time of the Harford Bird Club year is right around the corner.
In the next two months we will have two events that will feature our display board in the public. On April 22nd the Harford County Earth Day celebration will take place at the Aberdeen Festival Park from 11:00am until 4:00pm. This festival is quickly becoming a tradition in the county and our continued presence will be an important outreach opportunity. In addition we have secured a table at the Havre deGrace Decoy Festival in the Middle School on the weekend of May 5th through 7th. We will need volunteers to man the tables and spread the birding news (so to say) at each event... please feel free to call or email me if you are interested!
That Friday, May 5th, will also be our next meeting. The featured speaker will be none other than our own Matt Haffner, fresh out of the swamps of Arkansas searching for...well...maybe we cannot say??? Matt has certainly been an integral part of the Maryland birding community over the past 5 years, and he is sure to have many stories and photographs to share from his adventures. Speaking of meeting presentations, anybody that was here in March to see Dr. Matt Perry discuss the Atlantic Seaduck Project was not disappointed; his discussion included fantastic travel stories, great photographs, information about much of Maryland's waterfowl, and incredible footage of diving ducks in a specially-built dive tank! For sure we have had informative and fun meetings so far this year; we can look forward to more of the same in May and beyond.
There are many regional birding opportunities in the near future. For several years now the Delmarva Birding Weekend has been offered the final week of April by the Worcester County Board of Tourism. Many trips are offered covering everything from ocean birding at Cape Henlopen to evening marsh hikes, and some of the most incredible canoe trips one could ever want to take. For more information please call 410-632-3617 or 800-852-0335, or email email@example.com. You can also get more information on the web at http://skipjack.net/le_shore/birdingweekend. That same weekend is a clean-up day at the Carey Run Sanctuary in Garrett County. These clean-up days are surprisingly fun and offer great birding in addition to the satisfaction of helping maintain one of the jewels of the bird club. Soon afterwards the Spring Migration (May) Bird Count will take place, this year on Mother's Day weekend. Could one find a better way to celebrate a favorite Mother in our life than by a day of spirited birding??? Contact Mark Johnson for more information about the May Count.
Now is also a good time to start planning your trip to the state convention, this year at Rocky Gap State Park and Convention Center from June 9th - 11th. Featured in the silent auction and raffle at the convention will be a 'weekend get-a-way' package to Havre deGrace that was compiled by Dave Webb and Colleen Webster discussed elsewhere in this newsletter. It will be worth attending the conference just to have a chance to win that package! The convention will also be a great place to check out the new 'YMOS', a birding organization for kids with its own newsletter and activities. This will be an exciting time for the MOS and the Harford County Bird Club; one of the simplest ways to support our position in the state is attending the conventions. With Maryland's population booming, the need for conservation organizations like the MOS will become more and more clear. Let's all do our part by participating on counts, birding events, attending the Earth Day and Decoy Festivals, visiting the MOS convention, and of course by coming out to see Matt speak on May 5th! Best birding wishes to all! Russ Kovach
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The International Migratory Bird Day is Saturday, May 13th, or more locally known as May Count. This day, many will count species and individuals at habitats frequented by birdwatchers everywhere. However, many areas go uncounted, even in the relatively populous Harford County. This information is complied at the County, State, and often Country level to give us a snapshot on avian migration. Birdwatchers of all levels are encouraged to join in. Last year, many great places went uncounted (e.g. Harford Glen). Other information such as miles walked, driven, hours spent, and local weather conditions are also collected. Please contact Mark Johnson for more information on where and how to participate (410-692-5978).
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An unseasonably warm, nearly perfect day greeted birdwatchers in Harford County for our Mid Winter count this year. Eleven participated in six parties that covered the south, east and west areas of the county. The central and northeastern part of the county was uncovered. Altogether, over 19,000 birds of 91 species were found. Highlights are presented as follows.
Eileen Fry, Carol Flora, Phil Powers, and Terry Haley covered the Perryman Area and found both kinglet species, and found the only Ruddy Ducks and Lesser Scaup for the count. They also found two Mute Swans and listed 48 species. John Gallo covered Swan Harbor and logged an impressive 60 species including Tree and White-crowned Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Great-horned and Screech Owls, and six of seven woodpecker species. Monroe Hardin covered Susquehanna State Park and found both vulture species, two Bald Eagles, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler for a total of 25 species. Dennis Kirkwood canvassed the World Famous Bradenbaugh Flats area and found Green-winged Teal, Ring- necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, a Barred Owl and the only American Pipits for the count. In total, he reported finding 48 species in the WFBF area. Mark Johnson counted in the Sweet Air Area of Gunpowder State Park and found three Fox Sparrows and witnessed a male Pileated Woodpecker carving out a nest hole. He found 34 species. Dave Webb and Suzanne Procell covered the APG - Aberdeen Area and tied John with 60 species; however, found twice the number of individuals at around 10,000 individual birds recorded. They found eight species of sparrows including 59 Savannahs and 205 Tree Sparrows, three Short-eared Owls, a Merlin, eleven Wild Turkeys and the only Virginia Rail for the count. Conspicuously low was the number of Yellow-rumped Warblers at two for the combined count for all parties. Weather was not likely a significant factor since overall temperatures were unseasonably warm overall. Thanks go out to all who counted and provided complete reports for the day. Mark Johnson
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|April 22||Earth Day|
|May 1||Deadline: Harford Birdlife: Becky Gallo|
|May 5||Spring Meeting: Matt Haffner|
|May 5 - 7||Havre de Grace Decoy Festival|
|May 13||May Count: Mark Johnson|
|May 23||Deadline: Wrenderings: Rick Cheicante|
|June 9 - 11||MOS Covention: Rocky Gap State Park|
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In 1993, John & Linda Ireland opened The Wild Bird Marketplace to meet the demands of Harford's bird enthusiasts. Over the years, the Irelands have moved their business from its original location in Bel Air to Fountain Green, and now to its current location in the Forest Hill Industrial Airpark. What has not changed over the life of the business is John & Linda's unwavering support of the Harford Bird Club through the donation of countless items for the raffles held at our dinner meetings.
Gary Lang started his fledgling business, Chesapeake Optics in Havre de Grace just a few years ago. Gary has generously donated several items, including binoculars, that have significantly raised the quality of prizes in our raffles.
In support of this year's MOS Silent Auction to be held at the state conference at Rocky Gap from June 9- 11, noted Havre de Grace carver Joey Jobe graciously donated a handsome Canvasback drake decoy.
The club solicited donations that will be collectively raffled off as a 'Havre de Grace Overnight Getaway Package' at the MOS conference. Club member Carol Nemeth contributed a lavish one-night stay for two in her Victorian bed & breakfast, the Spencer Silver Mansion. The three chef-owners of The Laurappin Grille (voted best new restaurant in 2005 by Harford Magazine) and St. John Gourmet donated a gift card that can be used at either of their "sister" restaurants. (One of those co-owners, Jeff Lindeman, is a 1989 graduate of C. Milton Wright and former student of our own Spike Updegrove!) For those who enjoy a meal with a personal touch, there is also a complete dinner for two at The Havre de Grace Ritz Gourmet Café, a charming eatery featured on WBAL Radio's Beltway Gourmet. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Bomboy's Homemade Candy donated a certificate for two pounds of their mouth-watering chocolates. Also awaiting the winner of this package are two passes to the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, housing one of the finest collections of working and decorative Chesapeake Bay decoys; and a gift certificate from Washington Street Books, a bibliophile's paradise featuring over 60,000 titles. The combined retail value of the items donated by Havre de Grace businesses for this raffle package is nearly $300.
The support that these businesses so generously donate to the Harford Bird Club cannot be understated. Please patronize our benefactors, and tell them how much you appreciate their support of MOS and the Harford Bird Club. Dave Webb
Wild Bird Marketplace: 2203A Commerce Rd., Forest Hill, 836-5000
Chesapeake Optics: 300 St. John St, HdG, 939-9412
Jobes' Decoys: 619 Bourbon St., HdG, 939-1807
Spencer Silver Mansion: 200 S. Union Ave., HdG, 939-1485
The Laurrapin Grille & St. John Gourmet: 209 N. Washington St., HdG, 939-3663
The Havre de Grace Ritz Gourmet Cafe: 100 N. Washington St., HdG, 939-5858
Bomboy's Chocolates: 329 Market St., HdG, 939-2924
HdG Decoy Museum: 215 Giles St., HdG, 939-3739
Washington St. Books: 131 N. Washington St, HdG, 939-6215
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WINTER 2005/2006: This winter has been a mild one compared to other years. Everyone has been able to get out and go bird watching. Popular places for winter birding this year were Conowingo dam, Susquehanna State Park, Lakeside and Swan Harbor.
We have had a first time sighting - MD saw a Black-and-white Warbler at the Conowingo Dam on Dec 16. DB got to see a Red-tailed Hawk chasing a brown bat on the afternoon of Jan 12 in Street. The brown bat won and lived to see another day. A Blue-winged Teal must have gotten lost in migration and ended up at Swan Harbor on Dec 4 (BB, MH, JB). The only Merlin sightings sent by JG at Swan Harbor on Valentine's Day, he saw 2, one eating in a field and the other flying. CC spotted an adult Peregrine Falcon on an electric tower on Dec 7 on Rowland Island. A Golden Eagle flew over the intersection of 155 and 161 on Feb 25 (CW).
GEESE, SWANS, DUCKS, GAMEBIRDS. Harford County saw three species of geese this season. The high count of 60 Snow Geese flew over Darlington on Feb 20 (DK). Cackling Geese were sighted at Turney's Pond (DK, Dec 10), in Jarrettsville (KG, Dec 1) and in Darlington (BB, MH, JB, Dec 4). 3000 Canada Geese gathered at Swan Harbor on Jan 3 to ring in the New Year (JRG, SHS). DWW found 350 Tundra Swans at Spesutie Narrows on Dec 24.
Ducks were abundant this winter; sightings came from all of the birding hot spots in Harford County. Three Wood Ducks were at Turney's Pond on Dec 26 (DK). BB, MH, JB found 18 Gadwall swimming at Forest Green. At Swan Harbor JG saw 30+ American Black Ducks on the Ducks Unlimited Pond on Dec 4th. MoH saw 20 Mallards on Dec 22 at the Havre de Grace Promenade. Northern Pintails were at Swan Harbor on Dec 4 and Feb 5 (JG). One hundred Green-winged Teal were at Swan Harbor on Dec 4th (BB, MH, JB). DL saw the most Ring-necked Ducks on Feb 5 at Lakeside. MoH was at the Havre de Grace Promenade on Dec 22 when he saw a group of 37 Greater and Lesser Scaup. At Lapidum BB, MH & JB saw 3 Long-tailed Ducks on Dec 4. On Feb 25 BJD saw 2 Bufflehead in the marsh across from Home Depot in Edgewood. One Common Goldeneye was swimming in the Susquehanna River on Dec 27 (MoH). BJD saw 14 Hooded Mergansers and 30 Common Mergansers at John Smith Park off of Route 40 on Feb 25. One Red-breasted Merganser was at Lakeside on Feb 5 (DL).
Wild Turkeys couldn't hide from our birders this winter! CW saw one in a field off of Route 155 for three consecutive days in Feb. A flock of 12 were in Rocks State Park on Jan 5 (RK & AG). A Northern Bobwhite was in the Perryman area on Dec 4 (BB, MH, JB).
GREBES, HAWKS, FALCONS. Two species of Grebes were sighted. Pie-billed Grebes were on the Bush River (BB, MH, JB, Dec 4) and on Turney's Pond (DK Dec 10, 27). Horned Grebes which are a rare breed in the winter were found at Lapidum, Oakington and on the Bush River (BB, MH, JB Dec 4).
Eagles, hawks and kestrels were everywhere this season! Bald Eagles were fishing, flying and perching at Swan Harbor (JG, Dec), Conowingo Dam (MoH, Dec), Lakeside (BJD, Feb), Havre de Grace (CW, Feb), and APG (MoH, Dec). A Northern Harrier spent a lot of time at Swan Harbor in Dec hunting (JG). SH saw one in Fallston on Dec 18 and RK saw one flying over Carson's Run Road on Dec 13. A Sharp- shinned Hawk was stalking birds at MJ's feeder on Feb 18. DMW had a Cooper's Hawk stalking successfully at their feeders on Feb 26. Nesting building time for a Red-shouldered Hawk started on Feb 3 in Earlton (DWW). CW saw 2 Red-tailed Hawks flying together on Feb 24, mating season for them too? American Kestrels found a good hunting area in the fields on Route 155 right before Route 22 (CW Feb 26, 27).
PLOVERS, GULLS, OWLS. All the shorebirds migrated south except for the Killdeer. Killdeer are uncommon in the winter but our birders scoped some out. At Swan Harbor they were around in Dec (JG). BJD saw Killdeer at Lakeside on Feb 25.
Four species of gulls were sighted this winter. Fifteen Herring Gulls were at Susquehanna State Park on Dec 17 (MoH). On Jan 3 1000 Ring-billed Gulls were in the fields of Swan Harbor (JG). One Lesser Black-backed Gull was at the Conowingo Dam on Dec 4 (BB, MH, JB). MoH saw 2 Great Black-backed Gulls at Susquehanna State Park on Dec 26.
The Eastern Screech Owls were quiet this season, no one heard or saw any but Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls were out. JG had a Great Horned Owl calling at Swan Harbor on Dec 5 and DB saw one in Street on Jan 13. A Barred Owl took a chance and crossed Harford Road in front of DL on Feb 27.
KINGFISHER, WOODPECKERS. Belted Kingfishers were sighted all over the county. BJD saw one flying at Lakeside on Feb 25. MoH spotted one at Forest Greens on Dec 12 and in the Perryman Club House Road Lake area on Dec 11.
Woodpeckers didn't hide this winter, we found all but the rare Red-headed Woodpecker. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were at Susquehanna State Park (MoH), Bosely (MoH) and in Street (DB). MoH & BB, MH, JB saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Forest Greens, could it have been the same one? RK saw one in Joppatowne on Jan 21. Downy Woodpeckers were at Swan Harbor on Dec 17 (JG) and in Perryman on Dec 22 (MoH). At Swan Harbor a Hairy Woodpecker was seen flying on Dec 17 (JG). Northern Flickers were spotted at APG (MoH), and Swan Harbor (JG). RC heard a Pileated Woodpecker in Creswell.
LARKS, NUTHATCHES, THRUSH, PIPIT. Horned Larks had a high count of 100 seen by DK at Turney's Pond. DWW saw 11 in the Aldino area on Jan 1. They were around Swan Harbor all winter (JG).
Red-breasted Nuthatches were found in Fallston (SH), Creswell (RC), in Forest Hill (BJD) and at a feeder on Atkisson Road (KGR). White-breasted Nuthatches were at the feeders at Swan Harbor on Dec 18 (JG) and at feeders in BP's yard (Dec 2). Hermit Thrushes seemed to be everywhere. DB saw one in her bird bath on Feb 27 and then flew into the hollies for a snack. CC saw 4 in Susquehanna State Park on Dec 7. Four were also found at APG on Dec 24 (DWW). American Pipits traveled in groups of four according to our birders. DK saw 4 at Brandenbaugh Flats on Feb 12 and BB, MH, JB saw 4 in Perryman on Dec 4.
WARBLERS, SPARROWS, FINCHES. Only two warblers were sighted this winter. At Bosely MoH saw 8 Yellow-rumped Warblers on Dec 22. BJD has a Pine Warbler that's been visiting their feeder since Jan 25.
Sparrows were not shy. At Lakeside DL saw 4 Field Sparrows on Feb 19. On Dec 4 BB, MH and JB saw 200 Savannah Sparrows at Swan Harbor. At APG on Dec 24 DWW saw 5 Fox Sparrows. MoH saw 5 Song Sparrows and 3 White-throated Sparrows at the Havre de Grace Lockhouse on Dec 10. There were 30 White-crowned Sparrows in Perryman on Dec 4 according to SC.
Purple Finches enjoyed the feeders. MJ had them at his in Glen Elyn since Feb 10. DWW saw them at his feeders in Dec and Feb. One Pine Siskin was in Webster on Dec 7 and Jan 9 (DWW). The American Goldfinches were found in Havre de Grace by MoH in Dec and Jan.
I want to thank everyone who contributed. The next article will have sightings from March 1 until April 30 2006. You can call me with sightings - 410-459-8873 or email me - firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send the reports as you see them, it makes compiling the data easier.
Thanks and Happy Birding!
DB - Deb Bowers, JB - Jim Brighton, BB - Bill Bubick, CC - Chuck Chalfant, RC - Rick Cheicante, SC - Steve Collins, MD - Molly Dally, BJD - Bob & Jan Depuy, JG - John Gallo, AG - Annie Gayetsky, KG - Kevin Graff, MH - Matt Hafner, MoH - Monroe Harden, SH - Susan Hood, MJ - Mark Johnson, DK - Dennis Kirkwood, RK - Russ Kovach, DL - Dave Larkin, BP - Bill Pfingsten, KGR - Kathy & George Rohe, SHS - Swan Harbor Staff, DWW - Dave Webb, DMW - Dave & Marsha Webb, CW - Colleen Webster.
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Field Trip Schedule
by Colleen Webster
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Perryman was our next stop, where we discovered about 25 more Gadwalls and a pair of American Wigeon. In the distant woods, we heard the squeaky calls of a lone Rusty Blackbird. The DU impoundment at Swan Harbor hosted a flock of about 40 Green-winged Teal, and another half-dozen snipe. We also saw numerous Savannah Sparrows running for cover among the thick, matted grasses before the tiny birds eventually flushed. Our final destination was Lapidum Landing, where we picked out a small number of distant Common Mergansers, Lesser Scaup and a Pied-billed Grebe on the Susquehanna River. Several hundred Bonaparte's Gull were also present. They tended to stay closer to the Cecil side of the river, floating with the current and pecking the river's surface for food. By morning's end we had tallied 55 species, including 11 waterfowl.squirrels. Dave Webb
We then rushed south to the Brigantine area of the Forsythe NWR in hopes of spotting one of the many Short-eared owls that regularly winter there. Lucky us - our first stop along the enormous driving loop was for the pre-planned rendezvous with the winter-trippin' Anne Arundel County gang-who had just found an American Bittern! Though most of our group missed the bird, we did enjoy the many species of ducks that dotted the roadside impoundments. Lucky again, we narrowly avoided a cataclysmic tipping of the interstellar luck balance by missing Short-eared Owl (whew, thankfully, sometimes it's just too windy). All 22 of us thenshared a most enjoyable dinner together before we split off for our overnight stay just north of Brigantine.
Sunday morning was less windy but even colder than Saturday, snapfreezing all standing fresh water. We again joined the AA chapter for the morning circuit around Brigantine, which yielded great views of Eagles, Coops, and Red-tails, but little else. At mid-day we sent the AAC chapter off for Barnegat with well wishes before high-tailing it down to Cape May ourselves for a shot at Dickcissel and Short-eared owl. It's too bad that all we saw there was a Purple Finch, Gray Catbird, and about a gizzilion (actual count) Yellow-rumped Warblers. All told we tallied 83 species-and a wonderful time. Visit the pictures online. Looking forward to seeing YOU there next time too - Cheers, Dave Ziolkowski and Les Eastman
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