WRENDERINGS The Newsletter of the Harford Bird Club

Volume 19 Number 6

November - December 2006


Great Journeys and Great Times
Editor's Notebook...
Calendar of Events
Membership Dues
Award Nominations
Swan Harbor Update
Welcome New Members
Computer Birding
Field Trip Reports
Harford Birdlife
"Grand Slam" Award
Field Trip Schedule
Winter Meeting

Great Journeys and Great Times

Well it's almost time; the Rock Run Christmas Bird Count is right around the corner! It may even be possible to count in shorts this year if the weather stays as it is now in late November! In all seriousness the wacky weather could do all sorts of crazy things to bird movement, so it will definitely be an interesting count. One thing is for sure however, we can all look forward to meeting back at Lorna Wortman's house for soup and bread in the evening after the count! Regardless of the temperature, everybody warms up when treated to soup and stories at Lorna's, and certainly when I think about counts past the first image that pops in my head is the friendly post-count gathering. Now let's just hope there are some great birds this year to talk about while eating that soup!

Speaking of things to talk about, at our recent Executive Board meeting we decided to initiate several new programs that hope to open our club more to younger birders, those in middle and elementary school to be exact. The club will sponsor a bird art contest at local elementary schools, and maybe even middle and high schools as well if we find the interest. The monthly winner of the contest will have his or her artwork displayed on the club's website. We may even be able to place some of the artwork submissions in the newsletter as well if the format is appropriate.

There will be several other things to keep on eye out for in the upcoming year. If all goes well we will have a new Harford County Birding brochure that will be available for placement in local park kiosks and other tourism outlets. Not quite a checklist, this brochure will highlight some of the better birding locations in the county (and advertise for the club a bit as well!). Thanks to the generosity of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the statewide MOS, I am sure our new brochure will be quite a hit! We also hope to get additional exposure for the club by advertising some of our dinner meeting keynote speakers in the libraries and post offices around the county. It is my impression that many other chapters already do this, and it can only help increase our meeting attendance with a minimum of cost.

Speaking of which, we have some fabulous meetings coming up! January features the return of perhaps our most beloved speaker, Hank Kaestner. Nobody can know where Hank's 2006 "Journeys of a Spice Trader" will take us (except of course for Hank); so be sure to be there to hear fantastic stories and see beautiful pictures from lands far and near. The meeting starts at 7:00pm on Friday, January 12th. Be sure to also set aside the first Friday in March when Birder's Digest author and former VENT tour leader Jeffrey Gordon will host the *Birdsong Grammy Awards* following our dinner meeting! Good times will be had by all at this interactive meeting feature none-other than the musical talent of birds big and small. I wonder what bird will win best actor? Well, while we are waiting to see, be sure to get out there and do some birding, and I looking forward to seeing you all at Lorna's after the Rock Run Christmas Bird Count!

Best Birding Wishes,     
Russ Kovach     

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Editor's Notebook...

Great Backyard Bird Count - The GBBC will take place February 16 - 19, 2007. This citizen science project allows participants to count ANY area over a four day period. To participate, logon to www.birdsource.org/gbbc. Results may be submitted online or via a paper trail. Check out "Explore the Results" for a wealth of winter data.

Project Feeder Watch - A winter long survey of backyards for feeder watchers. To participate logon to www.birds.cornell.edu.

Ivory-billed Info - In case you missed it, the December 2006 National Geographic had a wonderful article on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Best Bird 2006 - I was fortunate enough to add a few new North American lifers in 2006. Perhaps my best, Smooth-billed Ani; this bird may become extirpated ANY year now.

Rick Cheicante     

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Calendar of Events

December 29 35th Annual Christmas Bird Count. Contact Jean Wheeler
January 5 Deadline: Harford Birdlife. Contact Becky Gallo.
January 12 Winter Meeting. Guest speaker is Hank Kaestner.
January 25 Deadline: Wrenderings. Contact Rick Cheicante.
January 27 Mid-Winter Count. Contact Mark Johnson.
February 22 Executive Board Meeting
March 2 March Dinner Meeting. Guest speaker is Jeff Gordon.

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Membership Dues

Annual membership dues are now overdue for the Harford Bird Club year from September 1, 2006 through August 31, 2007. We would like to have all dues paid by December 31, 2006. If you have not paid your 2006-07 membership dues, the first line of your mailing label will read, "NOT RENEWED AS OF <date>". If you do not renew your membership by February 1, 2007, you will be removed from local and MOS mailing lists and this is the last newsletter that you will receive. If you have any questions about your membership, please contact Marjie Heagy.

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Award Nominations

The Harford Bird Club is now accepting nominations for our 2006/2007 awards. Please email nominations for our Harford Bird Club yearly awards to the Executive Board. Nominations are accepted for Bird of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Birder of the Year and Volunteer of the Year. The awards will be presented at one of our 2007 gatherings.

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Swan Harbor Update

A number of changes have occurred at Swan Harbor over the past year. The latest, a birdwatching blind overlooking the Ducks Unlimited ponds is now complete. Becky Gallo has also prepared a bird checklist now available at the main office (Hours: M - F 8:30 - 5).

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Welcome New Members

The Harford Bird Club would like to extend a warm welcome to our new 2006 members:

Joyce Browning
John & Bernadette Flynn Low
Eric & Bonnie West
Volney & Diane Ford
William Murphy
Scot and Cindy Anderson
Melody and Joe Stevens
Marian J Argentino
David McCammon
Stephen Andrejak and family

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Picture of a bird at a computer

Computer Birding

The web site for the Harford Bird Club is located at http://www.harfordbirdclub.org. The site contains information about the club and how to join, upcoming meetings and field trips, information about birds and birding in Harford County and links to local hotlines, other bird clubs and other birding sites of interest to Harford birders. It also includes a search utility that makes finding the secondary pages easier.

In connection with the web site, I have set up two mailing lists that should be of interest to club members. The first is the Harford Bird Club information mailing list and the address is clubnews at harfordbirdclub.org. This mailing list is for the dissemination of information and announcements pertaining to the Harford Bird Club to its members. All Harford Bird Club members who have an email address should be on this list. If I know your email address, you are already on this mailing list. If you are not receiving occasional emails of this type and/or would like to subscribe to the mailing list, please contact me at les at harfordbirdclub.org. Please note that this mailing list is to be used to send information that is club related and is of interest to all members. It is not to be used to report bird sightings.

The second list is the Harford birds mailing list. This mailing list is for the discussion of birds in Harford County and reporting notable bird sightings. The address is harfordbirds at harfordbirdclub.org. Anyone interested in what birds are being seen in Harford County should subscribe to this list. To join this list, send me an email at the above address. If you see an unusual bird, please report it to the mailing list.

If you have any questions about the web site or the mailing lists, don't hesitate to ask. Suggestions for improving the web site are always welcome. My email address is les at harfordbirdclub.org.

Les Eastman     

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Sept. 6 - Oct. 5, 2006

Larry and Jean Fry and I (sans Jean Wheeler) arrived in Darwin, W.A. on September 8 Australian time having lost a day in travel. We had time to explore Darwin and do some birding before meeting Don Messersmith and the tour group. Our first sightings here gave us a taste of what was to come. The first excursion produced such beauties as a Blue-faced Honeyeater (one of many species of Honeyeaters in Australia), a Brahiminy Kite and a Red-collared Lorikeet plus nine or ten other species new to us.

We met our tour group in Kununurra on the West Coast on the 10th of September and traveled with them from Kunururra, to Broome, to Perth, to Narrogin, to the Stirling Range Retreat near Borden and on to Albany in the South. The many and diversified habitats proved a wide variety of bird and animal sightings. We were privileged to see some rarities such as the Gouldian Finch, a Purple-Crowned Fairy Wren, Superb and Splendid Fairy Wrens, a Yellow Chat, Elegant Parrots, a Western Whipbird, Scarlet Robins, and Kookaburras. A special treat was seeing the Crested Shrike-tit at the Stirling Range Retreat. An arduous journey to the Mitchell Plateau resulted in the sighting of the elusive Black Grasswren. Our total for the three week tour was 264 species.

The last leg of our journey was to Brisban and to O*Reilly*s Rainforest Retreat. Here we added another 34 birds including the Golden and Satin Bowerbirds, a Green Catbird, the Eastern Whipbird, a Rose Robin, King Parrots, and a Logrunner. We spent a couple of days visiting Sydney and then home.

Carol Flora     

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Harford Bird Club
Field Trip Reports

July 16: Bombay Hook
Three of us made the trip to Bombay Hook. The weather was warm but not overly humid. Our trepidations of being eaten alive by mosquitoes at Bombay were fortunately not realized; a stiff breeze making it quite comfortable. We began our trip by stopping at Woodland Beach where we had a good variety of birds including a family of Clapper Rails and Seaside Sparrow. On our drive in to Bombay swallows were massing on the overhead wires a presage of the coming fall migration. At Bombay there were moderate numbers of shore birds but nothing of note. The bird for the trip was a Black Tern at Bombay. We did not do any woodland birding: one brief foray into the woods brought out untold numbers a mosquitoes. A total list for the day of 55 species was modest but did not include any woodland birds . David Larkin

September 3: Harford Glen
Dave Larkin and Lynn Davis met one other birder in the parking lot at the Glen on an overcast morning on this first Sunday in September; Bill Pfingston arrived a little late, but caught up with us, and the four of us had a pleasant morning. We were all surprised by the very low water level in the Plum Tree Run outlet area - we had assumed that the recent heavy rains (remnants of hurricane Ernesto) would have produced a high water level. It was suggested that perhaps a beaver dam had been washed-out allowing the basin to drain. In spite of weather-related suppression of bird activity, we were treated to some good views of interesting birds. We started out with a nice little flock of Chipping Sparrows on the driveway to the parking lot. Descending the slope toward the water we had one of the best surprises of the day when a Merlin flushed from the growth at the edge of the wetland, gave us a brief but good view and headed downstream. Then a survey of the mud flats accounted for a Green Heron, several Great Blue Heron, and an especially high number of Great Egrets - at one point, we counted twelve. Other shore birds included Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, and Spotted Sandpiper. These smaller shore birds were spooked by a pair of low-swooping Sharp-shinned Hawks clearly on the hunt. The trek along Winter's Run produced a Common Yellowthroat and a Black-and-white Warbler and numerous squawking passes by kingfishers. Two other special treats near the end of the morning walk were a soaring juvenile Bald Eagle and a noisy juvenile male Blue Grosbeak being fed by a female. Final tally: 33. Lynn Davis

September 17: Winters Run Road
Nine birdwatchers met at the north end of Winters Run Road for a four hour morning stroll south along the full length of the road with stream, woodland, and meadow habitat on a simply beautiful, sunny, clear, and cool late summer day - very good luck after many days of very unpleasant conditions. There were stretches with very little activity, but also some "hot spots". We saw three of the common woodpeckers and the White-breasted Nuthatch, kingfisher, Black-and-white and Magnolia Warblers, a good look at a female American Redstart, an Empidonax flycatcher, several bluebirds in one field, and a very unusual mid-day sight - a flock of circling nighthawks! Total tally: 33. Lynn Davis

October 15: Susquehanna State Park
Eleven people started out on a beautiful Fall day to see what we could find in Susquehanna State Park. It turned out to be a great day for kinglets as many of both species were seen. In addition, all six of the expected woodpecker species were seen or heard. In addition to the many expected Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Palm Warbler and a late Northern Parula we also seen. A walk through the fields near the picnic area yielded Chipping, Field, Song, Swamp and White-throated Sparrows. In all, about 40 species of birds were seen by the group. Les Eastman

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Image of a Wren over outline of Harford County
Harford Birdlife
by Becky Gallo

September - October 2006: After the hot days of summer, everyone is back into birding! Thanks for sending so many reports.

An exciting find at the Conowingo Dam was by LE & GF. I am sure most have heard by now that we were graced by the presence of a Sabine's Gull. This is only the 4th accepted record for Maryland. According to Cornell Sabine's are an Artic Gull that spends the winter near the tropics; usually taking the coastal route to get there. The gull looks and acts more like a tern than a gull.

Keep in mind next time you are birding that there might be guests in our area!

Goose, Duck, Gamebirds
DK had 2 sometimes 3 Cackling Geese on Turney's Pond the week of Oct 15th. Mallards were seen at the Conowingo Dam on Oct 7th and at APG on Oct 9th (MoH). JRG saw Mallards at Swan Harbor during Sept and Oct. On Sept 23rd MoH saw 6 Common Mergansers at Susquehanna State Park. On Sept 20th MoH saw a Wild Turkey at Swan Harbors' front gate. A Northern Bobwhite was calling in Havre de Grace on Sept 3rd and 4th (MoH).

Grebe, Herons, Hawks, Falcons
A Pied-billed Grebe stayed at Turney's Pond most of Sept and Oct (DK). MoH saw 1 Great Egret and 2 Snowy Egrets at APG on Sept 15th. JRG saw an Osprey Oct 9th at Anita Leight Center. MoH saw 9 at the Conowingo Dam on Sept 23. At Eden Mill on Sept 9th RC saw a Northern Harrier. MoH and JRG saw one at Swan Harbor on Sept 20th. RC observed a Sharp-shinned Hawk at Susquehanna State Park on Sept 29th. MoH saw one in Havre de Grace on Oct 24th. LAD watched one chase House Sparrows in the Safeway parking lot in Bel Air on Oct 27th. A Red-shouldered Hawk perched for a while in Earlton on Sept 29th (DW). LAD saw one perched on a telephone pole at the intersection of Emmorton Road and Lexington Road on Oct 27th. Between 1 and 8 American Kestrels spent their Sept/Oct at Swan Harbor (JRG & MoH). DW had a Merlin fly over Beards Hill Shopping Center on Sept 16th. MoH watched a Peregrine Falcon fly over Havre de Grace on Sept 28th.

Gulls, Terns, Cuckoo, Owls
RC saw a Bonaparte's Gull at the Conowingo Dam. MoH saw 1 Herring Gull at APG on Oct 7th. On Sept 22 MoH saw 5 Great Black-backed Gulls, 5 Caspian Terns and 3 Forster's Terns in Havre de Grace. RC saw 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos at Eden Mill on Sept 9th. LP heard an Eastern Screech-Owl at her house from Sept until early Oct. A Great Horned Owl was heard near DB's house at the end of Sept. JRG heard one at Swan Harbor several nights in late Sept.

Swift, Hummingbird, Woodpeckers, Flycatcher
At Tydings JRG saw an Eastern Phoebe on Oct 27th. Ten Chimney Swifts were seen in Havre de Grace by MoH on Sept 22nd. SBH saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at their feeder (Sept 30). DW saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker in Earlton on Sept 29th. MoH saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker at APG on Oct 9th. At Susquehanna State Park MoH saw a Downy Woodpecker on Sept 23rd. On Oct 9th BJD saw a Hairy Woodpecker in Forest Hill. Eleven Northern Flickers invaded RC's yard in Creswell (Oct 6).

Vireos, Swallow, Titmouse, Nuthatch, Creeper
MoH saw 600 Tree Swallows at the Conowingo Dam (Sept 23). On Sept 9th RC observed 4 White-eyed Vireos, 6 Yellow-throated Vireos and 2 Red-eyed Vireos. MJ saw 1 Blue-headed Vireo at Eden Mill on Oct 22nd. Carolina Chickadees were seen in Earlton, Creswell and at APG (DW, RC, MH). On Sept 29 DW watched a Tufted Titmouse. In Forest Hill BJD saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sept 13). BJD saw a Brown Creeper in Forest Hill on Oct 6th.

Wrens, Kinglets, Thrushes, Mimid
At Eden Mill on Sept 9th RC watched 2 House Wrens. MH saw a Winter Wren at her house and RC saw 1 in Creswell. Golden-crowned Kinglets were seen in Bel Air (LAD Oct 26) & Forest Hill (BJD Oct 31). RC, SBH and MoH observed Ruby-crowned Kinglets in Creswell, Fallston and Havre de Grace. Eastern Bluebirds were abundant at Swan Harbor Farm (MoH & JRG). RC saw a Gray-cheeked Thrush at his house in Creswell. A Wood Thrush was hanging out in a Dogwood tree at Eden Mill on Oct 6th (MJ). On Sept 29th RC saw 3 Brown Thrashers.

Three Northern Parulas were at Eden Mill on Sept 9th (RC). SBH observed 1 Chestnut-sided Warbler in Fallston on Sept 12th and RC saw one at Eden Mill on Sept 9th. A Magnolia Warbler was seen at Eden Mill (Sept 9) and Susquehanna State Park (Sept 29). On Laurel Brook Road and at Susquehanna State Park Black-throated Blue Warblers were spotted (SBH & MoH). Black-throated Green Warblers were seen in the county by SBH & MH in September. DW saw a Blackburnian Warbler in Earlton on Sept 29th. A Prairie Warbler was at Eden Mill on Sept 9th (RC). SBH, LP & DK all spotted Palm Warblers in October. Black-and-white Warblers were in Forest Hill (BJD), Eden Mill (RC), Susquehanna State Park (MoH) and APG (MoH). Common Yellowthroats were observed at Eden Mill (RC & SBH) and Creswell (RC). RC also saw a Hooded Warbler and 2 Yellow-breasted Chats at Eden Mill.

Tanager, Sparrows, Grosbeak, Oriole
SBH saw 1 Scarlet Tanager in Fallston on Sept 7th. In Creswell RC watched 2 Eastern Towhee*s on Oct 6th. MoH saw 1 Savannah Sparrow on Oct 20th at Swan Harbor Farm. White-throated Sparrows were seen in Creswell (RC) and HDG (MoH). Dark-eyed Juncos arrived in the County. MJ had 10 at Eden Mill and SBH saw 1 in Fallston. RC watched 7 Indigo Buntings and a Baltimore Oriole at Susquehanna State Park on Sept 29th.

DB - Deb Bowers, RC - Rick Cheicante, LAD - Lynn & Angela Davis, BJD - Bob & Jan Depuy, LE - Les Eastman, GF - Greg Futral, JRG - John & Rebecca Gallo, MoH - Monroe Harden, MH - Marjie Heagy, SBH - Susan & Bob Hood, MJ - Mark Johnson, DK - Dennis Kirkwood, LP - Leanne Pemburn, DW - Dave Webb

I want to thank everyone who contributed. The next article will have sightings from November 1 thru December 31, 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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"Grand Slam" Award

A new certificate program has been established to recognize all Harford Bird Club members who participate in all 4 bird counts during a calendar year. Our inagurual year will begin in 2007 with the Mid-Winter Count on January 27. Subsequent counts include the May Count, the Fall Count conducted in September, and the year end Christmas Bird Count. Remember, feeder counts are OK for the first three counts. Check with count coordinators Mark Johnson and Jean Wheeler as counts approach for more details. Bird, enjoy, submit!

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Field Trip Schedule
by Colleen Webster

Saturday, January 13
Harford County Feeder Tour. What A better way to start your year off, and get into birding? Join veteran birder Les Eastman as he points out all that beginner birds need to know when looking out their home windows onto feeder areas. From the meeting location we'll carpool to our first host's home where we'll perch in the warmth and overlook their bird feeder spread for an hour or so before migrating on to the next. Participation is limited though, and beginner birders are particularly welcome, so please contact Les Eastman to reserve your spot and receive further information for this fun event!

Saturday, January 27
Harford Mid-Winter Count. Choose your location. Feeders are ok. Contact Mark Johnson for more information.

Saturday, February 3
World Famous Bradenbaugh Flats. Another good morning for regulars and beginner birders alike. Bradenbaugh born and raised, Dennis Kirkwood is the premiere guide to escort you through the bustling hedgerows and large open fields of this winter birding wonderland. The trip consists mostly of drive-and-stop birding, followed by a wrap-up at the Kirkwood's house featuring delicious homemade soup and breads. Ring-necked Duck, Horned Lark, and White-crowned and Savannah Sparrows, as well as Cackling Goose, are regulars but American Pipit, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur are distinct possibilities. Meet at Jarrettsville Elementary School at 8:00 AM. Contact Dennis for more information.

Sunday, February 11
Loch Raven. Join veteran leader Dave Larkin to explore one of Baltimore's most scenic waterscapes. Just six miles north of downtown Towson, this water reservoir and its surrounding forest is a magnet for pine-loving songbirds and waterfowl. Ring-necked Duck, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Fox Sparrow are likely to be seen. Meet at 8:00 AM at the MD 152 and MD 147 park-n-ride. Contact Dave for more details.

Saturday, February 17
Maryland/Delaware Shore. An all day trip is just what you need to brighten up those winter blues. A perennial favorite of local birders this full day adventure visits some of Delmarva's birding mega- hotspots in search of winter waifs and northern strays. Target birds include Northern Gannet, Eiders, Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpiper, Snowy Owl, Great Cormorant, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Bring lunch and warm, comfortable clothing. Meet at the MD 155 and I-95 park-n-ride at 7:00 AM. Contact leader Les Eastman for more information.

Saturday, February 24
Perryman. Another great trip for beginner birders to come out and see what all this avian activity is all about! This trip will tour local forests and waterways searching for Wilson's Snipe, Horned Lark, American Pipit, Savannah Sparrow and a good mix of puddle ducks. Meet your helpful leader Randy Robertson at the northeast corner of the Aberdeen Walmart at 8:00 am.

Saturday, March 10
John Smith Park, Bush River. Two veteran birders and trip leaders take you into late winter water territory to search for waterfowl, Eagles, late winter migrants. Meet Dennis Kirkwood and Lynn Davis at 7:30 am at the parking lot on Rt. 40 just south of Anita C. Leight Center and contact Dennis for more information.

Wednesday, March 14
Timberdoodle Watch. An early evening trip designed to take you into the mating arena of one of North America's most bizarre birds, the American Woodcock, a seemingly confused, and exceedingly plump, little shorebird that prefers wooded fields and forest. Hear them call and watch them spring into a mating ritual that includes musical twitters, an upward spiraling flight followed by a “falling leaf”-like descent, and pumps and rushes once back on terra firma. Dress warmly and meet leader Colleen Webster at 6:00 PM in the northeast corner of the Aberdeen Walmart parking lot adjacent to Rt. 7 and furthest from the building. Contact Colleen for more details.

Sunday, March 18
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 Upper Bay and Havre de Grace. Scopes are helpful, although not necessary. Dress warmly and be sure to bring photo ID. Meet at 6:00 AM in back lot of the Rt. 40 McDonald's in Edgewood. Contact trip leader Dave Webb for trip details.

Saturday, March 24
Annie's Playground. An easily accessible location not only for children on swings, but also birders out for some feathered sightings. Call Join the yin/yang pair of leaders, Randy Robertson and Colleen Webster, in the parking lot at 8:00 am; contact Colleen Webster for details.

Saturday, March 31
Swan Harbor Snipe Hunt. Ever wanted to actually see one of those undercover and hard-to-find birds that we just know are out there? Here is your chance! Join Swan Harbor's own caretaker John Gallo for a personal tour around the wetlands in search of those Snipes. Meet John in the parking lot at 7:30 am and contact John for more info.

Saturday, April 7
Harford Glen. A sure favorite with both the birds and the birders, this local gem will host both forest dwellers and some water birds. Get out early in this about-to-be-spring month with two long-time birders, Carol Flora and Jean Wheeler as they lead trip-goers in a search for migrants and residents alike. Meet in the upper parking lot at 7:30 am and contact Jean for more information.

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Winter Meeting

Friday, January 12, 2007
Churchville Presbyterian Church
Meeting starts at 7:00 P.M.

Guest Speaker: Hank Kaestner
World Birder

"Journeys of a Spice Trader"

Refreshments will be available
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Please send any comments to Les Eastman.
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