Volume 19 Number 3
May - June 2006
By the time you read this the MOS state convention should be over, leaving us with lots of time to get out there in our blocks for the last season of the 2002-2006 Breeding Bird Atlas. Several 'Block Busting' trips are scheduled for the end of June, providing a new type of excitement that will probably feel like a playoff hockey game more than a traditional birding trip. The original Breeding Bird Atlas, completed in the mid 80's, tallied up 199 species of nesting birds in Maryland. Comparing the results of the two studies will surely provide debate, controversy, and conversation for years to come. Among the authors of the results from the previous BBA were long-time birding standout Chan Robbins, Harford County's Eirik Blom, and our speaker for the summer social, Robert Ringler. On July 21st at the Anita Leight Estuary Center, Bob will be sharing with us video and stories of his many adventures, thus Bob's presentation is sure to stir a great deal of memories and stories from the crowd.
Speaking of travel, the Havre de Grace Overnight Getaway Package is now in the hands of one happy bidder! We can not understate the importance of having local businesses both recognize the economic impact of our sport, and of course contribute to it. In fact, our growth over the next few years may very well depend upon working closely with birding-friendly people and companies to increase awareness of the sport of birding as well as conservation of important bird habitat. Members of the Harford Bird Club and MOS as a whole often are on the lookout for threats to important bird areas; our speaking out on behalf of the sport of birding and the importance of conservation along with business community recognition will have a positive impact on decisions regarding developments that impact these areas. Please be sure to thank the 'Havre de Grace Overnight Getaway' businesses the next time you are in town; they are listed in Dave Webb's article in the April issue.
In our May meeting we heard about one of the rarest of important bird areas in the U.S., the mature bottom-land pine forests that once dominated the south-east. Matt Hafner described the big effort to locate the big Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and all that were in attendance agreed that Matt did a great job not only in his searching, but in his presentation as well. While Matt was contractually unable to divulge information on the search for the Ivory-bill, we were able to learn quite a bit about the habitat in which they once thrived, and the impact that the 'rediscovery' of this bird has had on the nearby towns. Locals are known to sport 'Ivory-billed' hair cuts and eat 'Ivory-billed' burgers! And one wonders why they disappeared? Matt took us on a tour of the 'Big Woods' of Arkansas in addition to describing the life of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker searcher, all while leaving time to describe the delicate act of photographing (or not) the elusive Orange-crowned Warbler.
Warblers were definitely on the minds of many birders this spring, and the season did not disappoint with fantastic numbers of Ceruleans in Susquehanna State Park along with numerous migrants throughout late April and early May. Every warbler trip was well-attended, and birders were rewarded with rarer migrants such as Cape May and Morning Warblers. Let's be sure to keep up the same intensity as we move through this last season of the Breeding Bird Atlas by participating on block busing trips, working your own block, or by reporting breeding bird finds to Dennis Kirkwood for compilation. In the meantime I look forward to hearing about all of your birding stories and adventures on July 21st at Anita Leight Estuary Center for our Summer Social.
Until then, best birding wishes...
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The weather was good; partly cloudy and warm with light winds. Unfortunately, many participants this year came up lacking for migrants. Especially warblers were hard to come by and activity was low. Some good ol' regulars that are often found in the same haunts were simply not there. Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, and Blackpoll Warblers were hard to find (actually, no one found a Blackburnian). Cartharus thrushes were rare. Maybe it had something to do with the un-Maryland-like 'real spring' we had, cool temperatures for nearly a month might have had something to do with it. Maybe the exceptionally dry March affected invertebrate abundance. Historical records, however, are amazingly consistent for species arrival. No simple explanation could be had.
Amazingly, numbers of species, but not individuals were higher this year compared with last. A total of 4524 individuals of 150 species were found this year (last year 4672 individuals of 139 species). Considering there were fewer participants and parties this year relative to last year, these numbers were better than expected. So could it have been in the minds of our observers? Not entirely. Warbler species and individuals were down compared to last year (416 individuals/25 species, 665 individuals/26 species in 2006 and 2005 respectively) as well as other migrants (e.g. flycatchers, thrushes; data not shown). Other interesting species were found and most easily missed species were covered.
Fifteen individuals of eight parties provided data. Areas covered included the east, south, and central, and western parts of the county. Northern areas were largely uncovered. Party highlights are provided as follows.
The "Daves" (Webb and Ziolkowski) did the APG-Aberdeen Area and logged an enthusiastic 16 hours, 7.5 hours at night. They counted an impressive 125 species, finding the only whips, Summer Tanagers, Laughing Gulls, Least Bitterns, Rusty Blackbird, and American Woodcock of the count. Monroe Harden counted the Sweet Air Area of Gunpowder State Park while Joyce Harden watched the feeder at home. Monroe logged 27 species while Joyce counted 12. Jay Rubinoff, the Yorkstons', and Todd Wills covered Harford Glen and found both orioles and 69 species in total. Mark Johnson, Suzanne Procell and Jerry Strickroth counted the Edgewood area of APG and found 78 species including some Yellow-rumped Warblers and Bonaparte Gulls missed by others. Rick Cheicante and David Larkin found an impressive 94 species, 22 of which were warblers (so that's where they all were!). They also found the Caspian Terns that the Johnson group failed to turn up. Les Eastman covered his regular area in northeastern Harford County and found 62 species noting a lack of good migrants. Lastly, Spike Updegrove found 76 species and the bird of the count, a male Painted Bunting! Unfortunately, efforts to locate the bird on subsequent days were unproductive.
Thanks to all for counting and providing your results! Mark Johnson
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|June 22||HBC Executive Board Meeting|
|July 1||Deadline: Harford Birdlife: Becky Gallo|
|July 21||Summer Social: Robert Ringler|
|July 23||Deadline: Wrenderings: Rick Cheicante|
|September 9||Fall Picnic: Dennis Kirkwood's house|
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In February and March I traveled to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda with Naturalist Journeys (www.naturalistjourneys. com). It was an amazing three week trip: from elephants to dung beetles and yes hundreds of birds. The local operator was Origins Safaris. Our Kenya guide, Preston Mutinda, was an excellent birder. In Tanzania and Rwanda they are bit farther back on the tourism curve and the guides, although very helpful with birds, were sometimes hitting the books with us. Due to concerns about animal danger we were mostly in the vehicles, walking was limited and sometimes involved a guide with rifle.
We began in Nairobi, Kenya and the gardens of the Hotel Norfolk (featured in 'Out of Africa') had collared sunbirds. The Nairobi National Park just outside of the city is a jewel, although it is a little odd to be taking ostrich and rhino photos with the city skyline in the background.
We headed north to Mountain Lodge on the lower elevation of Mt Kenya. The lodge is located at a water hole. If you sign up they will knock on your door at night if a specific animal you desire shows up, no need to dress, just go out on your balcony to look! Further north was Samburu a very arid region (sandgrouse, weavers, spurfowl, bateleur eagles, Beisa oryx).
We flew south to Arusha, Tanzania (much greener). We traveled west across the northern part of the country passing through Arusha National Park (giraffe herds with Mt Kilimanjaro in the background), Tanrangire NP (flamingo lakes), Ngorongoro Crater (popular but still great wildlife), Lake Manyara (needed longer here, jacanas, hippos, snipe, sacred ibis, kingfishers).
Our last Tanzania stop was the plains of the Serengeti. This was wildebeest calving time. We drove about an hour through "a" herd of wildebeest and zebras. At the mobile tent camp we had gravity flow running water (ask for it to be boiled for your shower) and a generator for the lights and recharging camera batteries. We took game drives across the plains, around kopjies (granite hills) and through streams; seeing hornbills, rollers, bustards, bee-eaters, many predators - lions, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, bat-eared foxes.
Next was Rwanda for mountain gorillas. This country has recovered quickly from the genocide in 1994. Volcanoes National Park is surrounded by terraced cultivation right up to the park boundary. Reaching the gorillas involved some strenuous muddy hiking. After watching a gorilla family at play you can't help but believe we are related. Entire group bird list - 334 species, Mammal list - 56 species. Lynn Feryus
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Springtime 2006 arrived with very little rainfall but the birds came back! Some impressive numbers and birds came through this season. MJH saw approximately 400 Double-crested Cormorants at Susquehanna State Park on Apr 15. On Apr 9 there were over 250 Tree Swallows at Swan Harbor Farm (JG). DW saw a Red-headed Woodpecker in Churchville on Apr 11.
Geese, Swans, Ducks. Canada Geese were seen at Susquehanna State Park (MJH Mar 11, Apr 1) and Swan Harbor Farm (BG Apr 17, MJH Apr 1, 15, 21) this spring. DL saw two Mute Swans at Lakeside on Apr 23. Tundra Swans were migrating through in large numbers. JG had flyovers at Swan Harbor on Mar 12, Mar 26 and Apr 15. MJH saw them flyover Susquehanna State Park on Mar 11. Tundra Swans flew over Creswell at night the week of Mar 13 in large numbers (RC). RK & AG reported a flock 1/2 mile long flyover Bel Air on Mar 14, they stopped counting at 450. At Lakeside on Apr 23 DL spotted a pair of Wood Ducks. Five Mallards were at Susquehanna State Park on Mar 11 (MJH). Green-winged Teal found their way back to the impoundment at Swan Harbor (JG Mar 12, MJH Apr 15, MoH Apr 1). A pair of Ring-necked Ducks stayed at Turney's Pond until Apr 24, DK was hoping for a pair to stay but it didn't happen this year. Lesser Scaup found a resting spot at APG on Mar 11 (MoH) and at Lakeside on Mar 31 (DL).
Gamebird, Herons, Vulture. A Wild Turkey gobbled at sunrise at Broad Creek Apr 29 & 30 (MJ & DW). At the Swan Harbor impoundment a Great Blue Heron and Great Egret were spotted by MoH on Apr 1. On Apr 9 JG found a Black Vulture guarding the abandoned silos at Swan Harbor, he couldn't see into them to determine if there was a nest.
Hawks, Falcons. Ospreys were found in several areas of Harford County. The pair across from the Old Beta Shoe factory are back on nest (Mar 7 GRP, Mar 9 JG). DL saw 1 at Lakeside on Mar 31 and Apr 2nd. Bald Eagles were common in the usual areas. The pair at Swan Harbor are back on nest according to JG, BG, and MJH. MoH spotted the Northern Harrier that sometimes hunts at Swan Harbor (Apr 1). A Sharp- shinned Hawk was hunting at Harford Glen on Apr 2 (DL) and at Lakeside on Apr 15 (DL). RC watched an American Kestrel hunt the airstrip at Edgewood Arsenal on Apr 10. The Merlin was at Swan Harbor Farm in April (MoH, JG, CL).
Plovers, Sandpipers. Greater Yellowlegs migrated back to Swan Harbor (MoH Apr 15) and Lakeside (DL Mar 31 & Apr 23). MJ also saw a couple at Harford Glen on Apr 15. Two Spotted Sandpipers and 4 Least Sandpipers were at Lakeside on Apr 23 (DL). DW spotted 4 Wilson's Snipe at Swan Harbor on Mar 19. He and DAW saw 5 American Woodcock displaying in a field along Cooley Mill Road on Mar 12th.
Dove, Owls, Woodpeckers. JG and CL saw a newly fledged Mourning Dove on Apr 24 at Swan Harbor Farm. RC had a Great Horned Owl that was calling in the evening at his house (April). A Barred Owl was seen on the right side of Oakington Road in the woods (JG Mar 25). DB heard 2 Barred Owls in Street calling and making lots of noise (Mar 2). Red-bellied Woodpeckers were scoped out at Swan Harbor Farm (JG Mar 12 & Apr 9) and in Creswell (RC Mar 13). On Mar 11 MJH saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Susquehanna State Park. Four Downy Woodpeckers and four Hairy Woodpeckers were seen by the front gate of Swan Harbor Farm on Mar 12. CV saw a Pileated Woodpecker in her backyard in the Fallston area on Mar 25 and Apr 11.
Flycatcher, Vireos. In Creswell RC saw an Eastern Phoebe on Mar 12. MJ saw a White-eyed Vireo at Eden Mill on Apr 22. While at Broad Creek MJ and DW saw a Yellow-throated Vireo on Apr 29. DW spotted a Blue-headed Vireo in Earlton on Apr 10.
Swallows, Titmice, Nuthatch. DL saw 3 Rough-winged Swallows at Lakeside on Apr 2. At Susquehanna State Park on Apr 15 MJH saw 3 Barn Swallows and 3 Carolina Chickadees. RC saw 2 Black-capped Chickadees and 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch in Creswell as late as Mar 13. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was also seen in Street by DB on Mar 2.
Gnatcatcher, Thrushes, Mimids. MJ (Eden Mill) and DL (Harford Glen) both saw a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on the weekend of Apr 14 & 15. Eastern Bluebirds came back to Swan Harbor on Apr 23. At Lakeside DL saw 2 Gray Catbirds on Apr 2nd. DW saw a Brown Thrasher at his house on Mar 12 and Apr 9.
Waxwing, Warblers, Sparrows. Fifty Cedar Waxwings invaded the Holly Trees at Swan Harbor on Apr 23 (JG). Blue-winged Warblers were seen in Earlton (DW Apr 24) and at Eden Mill (MJ Apr 14). DW saw a Nashville Warbler at Broad Creek on Apr 30. At Eden Mill MJ saw Prairie Warblers on Apr 17 & 21. DL & MJ were both at Harford Glen on Apr 15 and saw Palm Warblers but MJ saw 5 and Dl saw 4. DL also saw at Harford Glen that day a Louisiana Waterthrush. DW (APG Apr 26) and JG (Swan Harbor Apr 23) both saw White-crowned Sparrows. Grosbeaks, Orioles, Finch. DW & DAW saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at their sunflower feeder on Apr 30. JG saw one at his on Apr 24. A Blue Grosbeak showed up at RC's feeder on Apr 26. DL saw an Orchard Oriole at Lakeside on Apr 23. DW heard a Baltimore Oriole singing in his yard on Apr 28. American Goldfinches were regulars at MJH & BG's feeders in Mar and Apr.
Contributors. DB - Deb Bowers, RC - Rick Cheicante, BG - Becky Gallo, JG - John Gallo, AG - Annie Gayetsky, MJH - Monroe & Joyce Harden, MoH - Monroe Harden, MJ - Mark Johnson, DK - Dennis Kirkwood, RK - Russ Kovach, CL - Craig Lanphear, DL - Dave Larkin, GRP - Glen Randers-Pehrson, CV - Carole Vangrin, DAW - Danny Webb, DW - Dave Webb
I want to thank everyone who contributed. The next article will have sightings from May 1 until June 30 2006. You can call me with sightings - 410-459-8873 or email me. Please send the reports to me as you see them.
Thanks and Happy Birding!
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Belize [March 29 to April 8, 2006]: I traveled to Belize with several friends from the Anne Arundel Bird Club otherwise known as The Maniacs. (Peter and Barbara Hanan, Janelle Dietrich, Doug Forsell and Peter Ostenton.) We had a great trip. Saw lots of birds and interesting sights. However, the company we went with, "Exotic Birding" turned out to be a major rip off. If you see them advertised, I would recommend steering clear of them.
That said, Belize is a beautiful country. It is just beginning to set up for eco-tourism and is not as advanced as Costa Rica at this time. Our accommodations ran the gamut from very comfortable up-scale places like Hidden Valley to one step above camping at Cockscomb Jaguar Reserve. (We didn't see any Jaguars.) Frogs in the bathroom come without extra charge. We also stayed at Crooked Tree at our Belizean guide Sam Tillett's place. Sam is "Mr. Belize". Everyone knew him wherever we went. He is a great birder and he rescued this trip from the Exotic Birding duo.
We visited two Mayan sites. Caracol in the West Maya Mountains has the highest man made structure in Belize, the Caana Temple. I climbed to the top for the spectacular view of the mountains. We also took a boat up the New River to Laminai Archeological site. These were fantastic ruins also. There is so much to learn about the Mayan culture.
But what about the birds? We had 287 species. I added 22 new birds to my life list. Some highlights include Stygian Owl, Ocellated Turkey, Agami Heron, Limpkins by the dozens and Jabiru, (a huge stork also called "Cowboy" in Belize). We also enjoyed Bat Falcon, Laughing Falcon, Crane Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Black-collared Hawk, and White Hawk. Some other jewels were Yucatan Vireo, Mangrove Vireo, Mangrove Warbler, Yucatan Jay, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper and Pale-billed Woodpecker. We also saw 21 species of Wood Warbler. Sam told us this was most unusual for this time of year, as most should have migrated north.
We did see a number of mammals including Collared Anteater, Howler monkeys, Alston's Mouse Opossum, Brocket Deer, Gray Fox, White-nosed Coati, and Proboscis Bats. We also saw Crocodile, Spiney-tailed and Green Iguana and Basilisk Lizard.
We ended the trip on Caye Caulker where we snorkeled on the barrier reef with Nurse Sharks and rays.
So far no one has come down with any mysterious tropical diseases. Jean Wheeler
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area [May 13 - 15, 2006]: Magee Marsh is located in western Ohio on Lake Erie. It is a birding hotspot, which Wild Bird Magazine has ranked in the top ten in North America. It is the place to go to observe migrating songbirds. I spent the weekend of May 13 to 15 birding the marsh. That Saturday was International Migrating Bird Day and John Dunn, Ken Kaufman and the Stokes were among the many birders. Even though there was a low stalled over the area the entire weekend and the weather was cloudy, cold and showery, we managed 23 species of warblers. I am talking eye level, in your face Magnolias by the dozens. You didn't need binoculars for delights like Golden-winged, Canada, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, Nashville, Tennessee, Mourning, Wilson's, Black-throated Blue and Green. I was hoping for Connecticut, but they apparently arrive a week or two later. Oven Birds and Northern Waterthrush were also plentiful. Veery, Wood, Swainson's, and Gray-cheeked thrushes were skulking on the ground at every turn. We also had good looks at Sora. Altogether we saw 94 species and remember the weather was awful.
I think Magee Marsh is one of the country's best-kept secrets. I am certainly going to visit there again. It's about an hour and a half from Cleveland. Jean Wheeler
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Field Trip Schedule
by Colleen Webster
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Please return to Eileen Nack, 8 Cresmont Drive, Aberdeen MD 21001 by Wednesday, July 12, 2006. __________ 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:___________________________
SUMMER SOCIAL RESERVATION FORM