Archive for the ‘Field Trip Reports’ Category

FBC Huntley Meadows Park Field Trip – September 25, 2016

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

By Scott Byrd

On a truly beautiful early Fall morning, nine participants met up in the visitor center parking lot at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia, for what turned out to be a very nice morning of birding. After chatting for a few minutes in the lot, our guide Bev Arnold, led us down the Heron Trail into a wooded area to start our birding. Things started out very slowly as we did not see many birds along the wooded trail. A stunning Red-headed Woodpecker was our first bird sighted, which more than made up for the quiet journey through the woods.

Things changed abruptly when we exited out of the woods into the open area of the central wetland. Upon entering the open area, we encountered several Gray Catbirds moving about in the vegetation along the boardwalk. Woodpeckers were also abundant in this area. We spotted Downy, Red-bellied, and Red-headed Woodpeckers, and several Northern Flickers too. We also saw a Common Yellowthroat, White-breasted Nuthatch, and an Eastern Phoebe in this area.  A real treat in this part of our trip was a calling Red-shouldered hawk that was partially visible behind a stand of trees.

We then moved further down the boardwalk to the central wetland area where we would look for waders, shorebirds, and waterfowl. We would not be disappointed. Even before we could get our field scopes set up to start scanning the wetland, we were thrilled to see a chase involving a Merlin and a Belted Kingfisher. The Merlin may be quick, but it was no match for the speedy Kingfisher. Coraciiformes 1, Falconiformes 0.

hmp_green-heron

Green Heron

Once the great chase was over, we turned our attention to more mundane things. An initial scan of the wetland with binoculars showed that there were lots of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons present. We could also make out some shorebirds and ducks, which required views through a scope to ID them. On the duck side, we found 5 early Gadwalls, 3 Wood Ducks, and a couple Green-winged teal. We also spotted a large hybrid duck, but could not determine it’s make up. On the shorebird side, identification would prove to be quite the challenge even through a field scope. It was clear there were lots of Yellowlegs present, but differentiating the two species was proving to be difficult. Luckily we heard the calls of both species, confirming that both were present. Other shorebird species were present, but after a good hour of observation, we moved to the far end of the wetland area near the tower. This viewpoint afforded us good views of the aforementioned Wood Ducks and a close encounter with a beautiful Green Heron, which was perched on a log watching the water for its next meal. From there we also observed a flock of about 20 Northern Rough-winged Swallows fly in to perch in a dead tree.

hmp_group-photo

Taking a break for a quick picture

We finished up at the wetland and started the return trip to the parking area via the Deer and Cedar Trails. As we embarked down the trail we immediately spotted another Eastern Phoebe and several Fall warblers, which put our identification skills to the test. First spotted was a Palm Warbler, which lacked its distinctive rusty-colored cap. After initially believing it may be an Empidonax flycatcher, Sally was able to accurately identify it. We would see several more in this area. We also were initially challenged by a brownish warbler with a streaked breast. Fortunately, it flashed its yellow rump area, revealing itself as an immature Yellow-rumped Warbler.

As we ventured further down the trail and into a wooded area, the bird activity seemed to fall off quite a bit. We did encounter a few more Red-bellied Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches, but as with the earlier trip through the woods, things were rather slow in comparison with the wetland area. We did manage to spot a couple of Yellow-billed Cuckoos, which were visible enough to afford us nice views.

After about 20 minutes of walking through the woods we stopped by the visitor center before heading to the parking area to tally our sightings. Overall we had a good day, but the  much anticipated fall warbler encounters just did not occur. We did finish the day with an ID challenge when a juvenile buteo was seen flying over the parking area. It had very distinctive black wing tips. Unfortunately, not distinctive enough, as we were unable to come to agreement on a species. Once that excitement was over, it was time to head back south, a fun morning of birding complete.

Trip Participants

Bev and Jim Arnold

Dave and Georgia Paton

Brenda Chase

Sally Knight

Scott Byrd

Liz Stover

Chloe Tremper

 

Birds Sighted

Canada Goose (16)

Wood Duck (5)

Gadwall (5)

Green-winged Teal (1)

Great Blue Heron (5)

Great Egret (8)

Green Heron (1)

Turkey Vulture (3)

Sharp-shinned Hawk (1)

Red-shouldered Hawk (1)

Merlin (1)

Killdeer (1)

Greater Yellowlegs (1)

Lesser Yellowlegs (4)

Mourning Dove (3)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (2)

Belted Kingfisher (3)

Red-headed Woodpecker (2)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (5)

Downy Woodpecker (4)

Northern Flicker (3)

Eastern Phoebe (3)

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (20)

Tree Swallow (6)

Carolina Chickadee (3)

Tufted Titmouse (4)

White-breasted Nuthatch (5)

Carolina Wren (3)

Eastern Bluebird (4)

American Robin (2)

Gray Catbird (5)

Common Yellowthroat (1)

Palm Warbler (3)

Yellow-rumped Warbler (2)

Song Sparrow (1)

Northern Cardinal (4)

Common Grackle (15)

House Finch (2)

American Goldfinch (1)

FBC Delaware Shore Weekend Trip – August 26 – 28. 2016

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

By Sally Knight

Ten participants led by Paul Nasca, past FBC president, met at Bombay Hook NWR at noon Friday, August 26 for the club’s weekend outing to the Delaware Shore. We gathered at the visitor center’s picnic shelter for lunch and to go over the trip itinerary. The plan was to spend the afternoon working our way north to Delaware City, stopping at hot spots along the way, before heading back to Leipsic for dinner and check in at The Days Inn in Dover. Saturday was to be a sunup to sundown day of birding, starting before dawn on the entrance road to Bombay Hook and heading south to Mispillion Dupont Nature Center, Prime Hook, and ending at Cape Henlopen State Park before dinner in Rehoboth. Sunday was open for participants to make their own plans.

While eating lunch we kept our eyes and ears open for birds at or around the feeders, but with the temperature already over 90 there wasn’t a lot of activity, except for a group of House Sparrows, a few Brown-headed Cowbirds, an Eastern Wood-Pewee and a couple of Barn Swallows flying over. We noted that the Purple Martin houses were quiet; apparently they had already shipped out for the season on their long flight south to their wintering grounds in the Amazon basin.

Eastern Kingbird

With walkie-talkies at the ready our caravan of cars headed out of the refuge on our drive north. We stopped at the gate to check out a Kingbird, to make sure it wasn’t the Gray Kingbird that had been sighted recently – no such luck – but it would be the first of a whole slew of Eastern Kingbirds we were to see over the weekend. Paul then pointed out our first, and only, American Kestrel sitting on the wire. As we worked our way north we made several stops including, Taylor’s Gut, Woodland Beach State Wildlife Area and Augustine Beach. Some of the birds we encountered were Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Bank, Barn and Tree Swallows, Great and Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Heron, Spotted and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher and Marsh Wren.

Along the way, Paul decided a sweet treat was in order so we stopped at Coleman’s Farm for their locally famous hand dipped Ice Cream! It was a welcome opportunity to get out of the sun and sit on their shaded porch for half an hour.

We continued on to Delaware City, a delightfully quaint small port town on the eastern terminus of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Here we stopped in to the American Birding Association’s headquarters where we met, and chatted to, ABA’s president, Jeff Gordon, and his wife Liz. They were very welcoming, and spent some time giving us an overview of their organizations initiatives and goals. We then walked through Fort Dupont State Park to the

monarchbutterfly

Monarch Butterfly

shore where we could look over to Pea Patch Island and Fort Delaware. Fort Delaware, the Union fortress dating back to 1859, once housed Confederate prisoners of w   ar and was originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

In addition to the fort, Pea Patch Island is home to the largest Atlantic Coast nesting ground north of Florida for wading birds. Originally a dredge disposal site, this vegetated high ground has been a nesting habitat for nine species of wading birds since the 1970s. It is one of the few protected areas available for these birds and supports between 5,000 and 12,000 breeding pairs annually. The heronry is a designated nature preserve with limited access and is managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation.
During the months of April through July, Paul said this is a great place to come at sunset to watch all the Herons, Egrets and Ibis flying in to roost on Pea Patch Island. Since we were past the best viewing season for watching the heron flight we headed to the Ashton tract of the Augustine Wildlife Area, just south of Delaware City, recommended by the Gordons. This proved to be the best birding of the day and comprised several different habitats. Close to the parking area there was an open meadow fringed by shrubs and trees. Here we saw numerous Eastern Kingbirds, 3 male Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler and a fawn munching on apples! As we walked through the mixed woodland we picked up Eastern Wood Pewee, Black and White Warbler, Great-crested Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Downy Woodpecker, among others. A pond at the far end of the trail held three Wood Ducks. We could have stayed a lot longer but our 6:30pm dinner reser

bbhsunrise

Sunrise at Bombay Hook NWR

vation at Sambo’s Tavern in Leipsic was calling – so off we went.

Saturday was going to be a long day – we gathered outside our hotel at 5:30am! First call of business was coffee at Dunkin Donuts and then we were off to Bombay Hook NWR where we got to witness an amazing sunrise. We spent the morning birding all the pools – Raymond, Shearness, Bear Swamp and Finis – then walking the Boardwalk Trail. Morning is the best time to view the waders in the pools with the sun behind you and, with no breeze to speak of, the water was like glass making for some wonderful photo opportunities. Highlights in the pools included the large numbers of American Avocets, with their graceful way of feeding – swishing their long, thin, upturned bills from side to side through the water. Their long, thin, blue-gray legs were particularly noticeable and, as I was interested to learn, gives them their colloquial name – blue shanks. There were also large numbers of Short-billed Dowitchers which gave rise to discussion on whether we were also seeing Long-billed, which are far less common on the East Coast. We did see both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, many Black-bellied Plovers in varying plumage, Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers, a couple Pectoral and Stilt Sandpipers, and a few Marbled Godwits. We had one Glossy Ibis fly in and a Tri-colored Heron was spotted at the far end of Shearness Pool. Both Black and Yellow-crowned Nightherons were seen in their usual roosting spot, and we had both Blue and Green-winged Teal, Mallard, American Black Duck and one Northern Shoveler. Large numbers of Great Egrets, some Snowy Egrets, a couple Little Blue Herons, and a Green Heron were present. The only rarity for the weekend was the Red-necked Phalarope, a pair of which had been reported in B

americanavocets

American Avocets

ear Swamp Pool, and we were not disappointed.

After our walk on Boardwalk Trail, we headed back to the visitor center picnic shelter for our lunch and some much needed shade – as the day was turning out to be almost as hot as Friday. At this point, we said goodbye to 2 club members – Linda and Scott – and the rest of us loaded back in the cars to drive south towards Cape Henlopen State Park. On the way we made several stops the first of which was the Dupont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve. Here we picked up Double-crested Cormorant, American Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone, Boat-billed Grackle, Royal and Forster’s Tern, at least twenty Osprey, and one rather shabby looking Black Skimmer.

We made several stops in Prime Hook NWR – Slaughter Beach, Fowler Beach, and the refuge Headquarters, where we walked the Boardwalk Trail. New birds for the trip included Common Yellowthroat, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Warbler, American Redstart and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Our last stop for the day was Cape Henlopen and a welcome cooling off by dipping our feet in the sea! It was almost high tide and all the shore birds where at the far point behind the closed off area of the beach. We were hoping for Piping Plover, and although there were a couple of likely suspects they were too far away to confirm. However, we did pick up our first Sanderlings and Willets for the trip.

bbhscopes

Scope shot – Mike Lott, Jim Goehring, Paul Nasca and Heidi Krofft

We ended up enjoying the late afternoon sitting up on the hawk watch station. Too early for the hawks – the season starts September 1 – but a nice spot to relax and wind down before dinner. As we walked back to the parking lot, Heidi spotted a Falcon flying low over us. Unfortunately, by the time we all got on it, all we had was a rear end view. It was either a Merlin or a Peregrine and the consensus was a Merlin as it appeared on the darker and smaller side.

It was then time for dinner at the Delaware Distilling Company in Rehoboth where we enjoyed recapping and doing our checklist over some good beer – too hot for spirits – and fresh fish. Back in Dover, we said our goodbye’s to Paul and Heidi and it was off to bed.

baldeagle

Immature Bald Eagle

The next morning, five of us met for breakfast and drove to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center located just before the Bridge. We hit it exactly at opening time, 9:00am and spent 3 hours walking the trails. Highlights here were several Brown-headed Nuthatches, busy stashing seeds in the pine trees and making their distinctive squeaky, rubber duck toy vocalizations. We also saw one White-breasted Nuthatch and one Red
-breasted, making it a trifecta of nuthatches! There were large numbers of Pine Warblers, several Eastern Wood-Pewees, and towards the end of our walk three adult Red-headed Woodpeckers that Mike first identified by their call. As we rounded Lake Knapp we spotted a large grouping of small sandpipers on the floating vegetation – creeping up on them to get a better look we saw they had yellow-green legs a key ID mark for Least Sandpipers. Another unexpected trifecta for the day was three Barred Owls, a pair of Great Horned, and one Screech Owl. Unfortunately we couldn’t add them to our trip list as they were in cages. We can only assume they were rescues either waiting to be released or being used for educational purposes. Beautiful birds but sad to see them locked up. Official tally came in at 110 species for the weekend. Thanks Paula and Heidi it was great to see you guys!

Trip Participants

Paul Nasca
Scott Byrd
Linda Chaney
Brenda Chase
Lori Gardner
Jim Goehring
Hanne Hansen
Sally Knight
Heidi Krofft
Mike Lott
Tony Lott

Trip Birds

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal
Wild Turkey
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Glossy Ibis
Double-crested Cormorant
Black vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Coopers Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Clapper Rail
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
American Oystercatcher
American Avocet
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Forster’s Tern
Black Skimmer
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Fish Crow
Horned Lark
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
Pine Warbler
Black and White Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Photos by Sally Knight

FBC Leesylvania State Park Outing – May 14, 2016

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

By Sally Knight

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

After two weeks of rain every day, I was more than a little concerned that our club outing to Leesylvania State Park could be another wet one.  However, luck was on our side as we threaded the needle between rain Friday evening and a big storm front moving through Saturday afternoon.  Six FBC members and our leader, Candice Lowther, met at the first parking lot immediately after the toll booth at 7:30am.   The morning started out cool but it was dry and the sun was just starting to hit the forest edge where the birds seemed as happy as we were to have a break from the rain.  In fact, it was so birdy here, we easily spent an hour listening to, and picking out, the numerous warblers and other birds that were busy flitting from branch to branch, gleaning insects as they went.  Some of the first birds we heard and saw from the parking lot were Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided and Yellow-throated Warblers, but by far the most numerous warbler was the American Redstart and mainly females.  We also got good looks at female Black-throated Blue warblers and heard a couple of males singing their buzzy song.  Blackpoll warblers were also singing everywhere as were the Red-eyed Vireos which for once were easy to see as well.  A male Scarlet Tanager gave us stunning looks as he sang from the top of a tree.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from this very productive spot, as the birds were continuing to be both heard and seen with seemingly no drop off in numbers.  Still, we had other areas of the park to check out so it was time to move on.  We car pooled to the next stop, the parking lot on the right to Powell’s Creek trailhead, which offers slightly different habitat.  Here we heard an Indigo Bunting and Wood Thrush singing and heard our first of many Eastern Wood Pewees and Great Crested Flycatchers.  Two Pileated Woodpeckers were also seen flying low through the woods.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

We then drove down to the far end of the park and parked in the lot closest to the pier.  In the winter months it is worth walking to the end of the pier to scan for overwintering waterfowl but this morning the water was very quiet.  We did hear a Fish Crow flying over and an Osprey was seen carrying nesting material, one of several we saw during the morning.  From here we walked up to the battery look out and enjoyed blue skies and sunshine!  Candice heard a Canada Warbler singing and we were successful in tracking it down and getting great looks of this gorgeous warbler. Also seen were a couple of male Magnolia Warblers, equally spectacular in their breeding plumage, and a Black and White Warbler creeping along a branch.  We also spotted our only Yellow-rumped for the day.  We continued along Lees Woods Trail where we heard an Ovenbird loudly vocalizing its “teacher, teacher, teacher” call and briefly glimpsed an adult Bald Eagle flying low over the treetops.  Just after Candice mentioned we hadn’t yet heard or seen a Cuckoo, a Yellow-billed flew in above us!

Leesylvania Group

Hanne, Candice, Scott, Bob, Mark and Lily

Heading back down the hill we decided to walk through the parking lot to the visitor center and back through the picnic area.  A Coopers Hawk was briefly seen being chased by a Crow.  We picked up our first Mockingbirds for the day and saw a Downy Woodpecker.  Tree and Barn swallows were flying around low and one Chimney Swift was heard and seen flying high above.  Carolina Chickadees were busy carrying food to young ones either still on a nest or possibly already fledged.

Swainson's Thrush

Swainson’s Thrush

Our last stop was Bushy Point where we hoped to pick up a Prothonatory Warbler.  While the group did not get to see this warbler, Hanne and Lily, who stayed on after the walk, reported back that they got to see a very cooperative one at this location.  We did however get to see a Swainson’s Thrush and Mark got this good photo of it posing for us.

We ended the walk at 12:30pm, reluctantly, as some of us had other obligations to get to, but as Candice said, she frequents Leesylvania often and this had to be the best in terms of warbler numbers and variety she has ever had.  Our timing was perfect!

Thanks to Mark for his great photos.  We tallied a total of 60 species – full list follows.

Canada Goose   1
Mallard   1
Great Blue Heron   2
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture   1
Osprey   5
Coopers Hawk   1
Bald Eagle   2
Ring-billed Gull   2
Mourning Dove   1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo   1
Chimney Swift   1
Red-bellied Woodpecker   4
Downy Woodpecker   5
Pileated Woodpecker   2
Eastern Wood-Pewee   5
Great Crested Flycatcher   7
Red-eyed Vireo   30
Blue Jay   15
American Crow   1
Fish Crow   2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow   3
Tree Swallow   10
Carolina Chickadee   13
Tufted Titmouse   8
White-breasted Nuthatch   4
Carolina Wren   15
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   9
Eastern Bluebird   3
Swainson’s Thrush   2
Wood Thrush   3
American Robin   5
Gray Catbird   2
Northern Mockingbird   2
Ovenbird   2
Black-and-white Warbler   2
Common Yellowthroat   3
American Redstart   19
Prothonotary Warbler   1
Cape May Warbler   1
Northern Parula   9
Magnolia Warbler   5
Bay-breasted Warbler   1
Chestnut-sided Warbler   3
Blackpoll Warbler   13
Black-throated Blue Warbler   4
Yellow-rumped Warbler   1
Yellow-throated Warbler   3
Black-throated Green Warbler   2
Canada Warbler   3
Scarlet Tanager 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak   1
Northern Cardinal   10
Indigo Bunting  3
Red-winged Blackbird   3
Common Grackle   18
Brown-headed Cowbird   5
Orchard Oriole   3
Baltimore Oriole   2
American goldfinch   8


FBC Participants

Candice Lowther – Leader

Sally Knight

Mark Miller

Hanne Hansen

Bob Hunt

Scott Byrd

Lily Graham

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge – April 23, 2016

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

By Michael Lott

Despite the prediction for rain, 12 intrepid members of the Fredericksburg Birding Club assembled in the parking lot at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge for a morning of birding. The forecasters proved to be correct and the overcast sky soon turned to rain. Never the less, many birds were seen and heard by all.

The first birds heard by many were the numerous Prairie Warblers singing near the parking lot and along Fox Road. The dense vegetation and gloomy weather made the prairie warblers, along with several White-eyed Vireos and Field Sparrows, difficult to spot

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

. Several Common Yellowthroats were more cooperative and sang from visible perches. Much easier to observe was a large flock of at least a hundred Blue Jays streaming overhead in their migration northward. Also spotted flying above were seven Laughing Gulls in breeding plumage and several Purple Martins. The group assembled at a viewing gazebo for a look out over Occoquan Bay. Although the bay was not as birdy as in the winter months, we were still able to observe several Caspian Terns hunting over the bay, as well as a group of nine Double-crested Cormorants roosting on a duck blind. Four Black Vultures were also hanging out on the shore just below the gazebo.

 

Goose Family

Canada Goose Family

The group then made their way up Deephole Point Road to the bird banding station where, despite being a slow day, the group was able to get a nice look at a cooperative Palm Warbler moving about low in the shrubs bordering the road. We then turned back down the road to the edge along Occoquan Bay and were rewarded with views of a Forester’s Tern and four Blue-winged Teals. Numerous Yellow-rumped Wablers were observed foraging in the trees along the edge of the road, however a Northern Waterthrush, singing in the forested wetlands, proved too elusive to spot. We were luckier with a Spotted Sandpiper that finally sat still long enough for observation, after repeatedly flying further up the shoreline. Numerous Tree Swallows zipped overhead and many roosted in trees along a tidal channel. Also seen at this location was an Eastern Kingbird, the first of the season for many of us, and a pair of Canada Geese with four goslings was seen swimming just off shore.

As the rain intensified, several of the group hurried back to the parking lot and an adjacent picnic shelter. Those willing to continue on in the rain were finally rewarded with a nice look at a Prothonotary Warbler. Also seen along this stretch of trail were several Swamp Sparrows, an Orchard Oriole, and a female American Redstart.

Occoquan Group

Intrepid FBC Members!

After meeting up at the picnic shelter, several of us enjoyed lunch at a local barbecue restaurant. Thanks to William Colling for sharing his bird photographs. A total of 51 species were seen on the trip. A full list appears below:

Canada Goose 8
Blue-winged Teal 4
Double-crested Cormorant 9
Great Blue Heron 2
Black Vulture 4
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 4
Bald Eagle 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Laughing Gull 7
Ring-billed Gull 2
Caspian Tern 2
Forster’s Tern 1
Mourning Dove 2
Chimney Swift 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Eastern Kingbird 1
White-eyed Vireo 8
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Blue Jay 100
American Crow 1
Fish Crow 1
Purple Martin 5
Tree Swallow 12
Barn Swallow 2
Carolina Chickadee 8
Tufted Titmouse 1
Carolina Wren 5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Prothonotary Warbler 4
Common Yellowthroat 7
American Redstart 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 12
Prairie Warbler 9
Field Sparrow 3
White-throated Sparrow 3
Swamp Sparrow 3
Eastern Towhee 2
Northern Cardinal 6
Red-winged Blackbird 7
Common Grackle 4
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Orchard Oriole 1
American Goldfinch 2


FBC Participants:
Mike Lott – Leader
Sally Knight
Brenda Chase
Linda Chaney
William Colling
Alton Dick
Maureen Hamm
Hanne Hansen
Michael Killian
Sarah Perry
Joyce and Mike Bathke

Delaware Trip – September 2013

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

On Saturday, September 14th eleven FBC members met at Bombay Hook NWR at 9:30 am. Those participants included David and Georgia Paton, Bev Smith, Jim Arnold, Lily Graham, Claire Curcio, Selby McCash, Jim Goehring, Mike Lott, Sally Knight, and Brenda Chase. With sunny skies and cool temperatures we headed down the Port Mahon road near Little Creek to catch low tide and hopefully some shorebirds. We were greeted mainly by gulls and terns, not an auspicious start, but the day was still young! On our way back to Bombay Hook we stopped to scan a potato field where Jim and Mike had spotted an American Golden-plover earlier that morning. Alas, it was no longer there, but we had high hopes for the Wildlife Drive at Bombay Hook. Our first stop was a short walk to the Raymond Pool tower. The walk yielded an American Redstart and Common Yellowthroat. From the tower we could see Avocets, Yellowlegs, Plovers, and Northern Shovelers and we hoped for better views when we would reach the other side of the pond. A  boardwalk hike through Marsh Wren territory netted us Gray Catbirds and a Belted Kingfisher but no wrens. Onward to Raymond Pool from which the avocets had flown and the number of birds had decreased. While this pond had been teeming with birds on a previous scouting trip Mike jokingly dubbed it the “Sahara”. However, a Snow Goose and a couple Tundra Swans were spotted and there was no shortage of Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers and Great and Snowy Egrets. As we continued to Shearness Pool and Bear Swamp Pool our species list grew and we had the usual discussions over Greater or Lesser Yellowlegs and Long or Short-billed Dowitchers. At one of our last stops, Finis Pool, we enjoyed watching a flock of Bobolinks sitting atop the willow bushes in the late afternoon sun. Those of you who have been to Bombay Hook know that as the day progresses the water levels, light, and number of species are constantly changing so it pays to re-visit places. We did so as we prepared to leave the park and got better results. The “Sahara” was turning into the “Serengeti”. We could have stayed longer, scoping more flocks for something different, but our light and time were running out so we headed back to the Days Inn and a convivial dinner at the Olive Garden across from our motel.

Sunday began as another gorgeous day. Before spending the day at Prime Hook NWR we wanted to return to Bombay Hook to look for warblers on the Parson Point Trail. On our way to the trail we stopped at Raymond Pool again. The morning light shown on the still water that was as smooth as glass and inhabited by hundreds shorebirds and waterfowl. It was a photographer’s dream. A Marsh Wren was spotted preening in the morning sun and stayed put long enough for all of us to get good looks, and a Peregrine falcon, perched on a snag, was a sight to behold. We soaked it in as long as we dared before moving on to the trail where warblers were scant, but we did pick up a Black and White Warbler, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers, a White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Scarlet Tanager. After leaving Bombay Hook we stopped at the Dupont Nature Center at the mouth of the Mispillion River. This is a prime spot for viewing the Redknots in the spring as they gorge themselves on horseshoe crab eggs. On this day we got good looks at Laughing Gulls and Royal and Forster’s terns on the pilings and American Oystercatchers on the jetty. Next it was on to Prime Hook. While it is a refuge it does not have a wildlife drive but consists of four different roads that end at the Delaware Bay. Each road has its own character and once again species vary with the tides. The roads and two trails near the visitor’s center added the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, one lone Black Skimmer, Tricolored Heron, Willet, Boat-tailed Grackle, Blue Grosbeak, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher among others to our list. We heard several Clapper Rails, but they stayed hidden in the reeds. Since we had been heading south all day we decided to make The Wharf in Lewes our dinner stop. It turned out to be an excellent choice as we all enjoyed different seafoods and the beautiful sunset from the patio.

On Monday morning we were still eleven species short of our target of 100, but we hoped Cape Henlopen State Park would help us reach that goal. On our way we decided to stop off at Fowler’s Beach road in the hopes of seeing the Clapper Rail we had heard the previous day. We did see one fly briefly and, in addition, were delighted with great views of Seaside Sparrows that seemed to pose for us atop the reeds. The day grew cloudier as we reached Cape Henlopen. A walk to the beach only gave us gulls and ospreys but we still had high hopes for the hawk watch. The wooded area near the hawk tower provided wonderful views of Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers. Ospreys were the main raptors and we enjoyed watching a couple chowing down on some large fish. But alas, we didn’t get our Kestrel that had eluded us all weekend. We picnicked under a shelter and planned to check out Indian River inlet until it began to rain. Instead, we opted to head back home. It was a great weekend even if we only got 93 of our 100 species!

Click here for a complete list of birds seen on the trip.

P1020092

FBC Trip to NC – Feb 2013

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Seven club members headed south on Friday for the February club outing.  Bev, Brenda and Sally left Fredericksburg at 9:30am and met up with David and Georgia at Island 1 on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel around 11:30am.  We lucked out with a warm, calm day and saw 15 species, including Common Merganser, Brown Pelican, Surf Scoter, Northern Gannet, 300+ Lesser Scaup, and wonderful close up views of 50+ Long-tailed Ducks.  We then drove on over the bridge and stopped at both the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR and Kiptopeke where we picked up another 16 species including Yellow Rumped Warbler, Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Bufflehead, Common Crow and Fish Crow.  We then headed south to Nags Head, NC for our 3 night stay.

Saturday morning we met up with Beth and Rich at breakfast where we discussed our day of birding the Hatteras Seashore, Pea Island NWR, and Bodie Lighthouse.  With a forecast of temps only in the mid to upper 30’s and wind gusts in the 20’s we were trying to be realistic on our day ahead!  However, scanning the ocean from our room, we spotted 2 Red Breasted Mergansers, several Northern Gannets and a Razorbill, among others, so we were off to a good start.  At the Bodie Lighthouse pond we had Green-winged Teal, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gadwall and watched around 200 Tundra Swan fly in.  A quick stop at Coquina Beach brought in more Northern Gannet, Sanderling, Razorbill and an Eastern Towhee.  Our next stop at Oregon Inlet produced Bonaparte’s Gull, Red-throated Loon, Red-breasted Merganser and several more Razorbill, among others.  At the Pea Island Visitor Center the ponds were not productive but the feeders had lots of Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Song and Savannah Sparrows as well as a beautiful orange colored House Finch.  On our return drive we picked up a male Common Yellowthroat in full breeding plumage, 100+ Snow Geese, White Ibis and 1 Great Egret.

Sunday we left at 8:00am and drove South West on route 264 to Mattamuskeet NWR.  Again very cold and windy but clear blue skies.  Birds sighted on our way included several Kestrel, Wood Duck, Robins everywhere, 2 Belted Kingfishers, Black and Turkey Vultures, 1 Osprey, dozens of Killdeer, Eastern Bluebirds and a large flock (1500+) Tundra Swan.  At Mattamuskeet we drove the wildlife trail around the wetlands and picked up hundreds of Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Green- and Blue-winged Teal, several Northern Harriers, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler and good looks at 3 Wilson’s Snipe in 3 separate locations.  At the visitor center we spotted 7 Black-crowned Night-herons (same spot as last year,) Pine Warbler, several Palm Warblers and a beautiful male Yellow Throated Warbler in full breeding plumage.  Some other birds spotted included a juvenile Bald Eagle, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, several Eastern Phoebe’s, White-throated, Song, Chipping and Swamp Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks.  At dinner we said goodbye to Beth and Rich who planned to drive straight home in the morning.

We checked out at 8:00am Monday and drove over to Alligator River NWR where we birded till noon.  It was still cold but the wind had dropped and again it was bright and sunny.  Here we picked up some additional species including Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Downy, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers, Tree Swallow and a Brown Thrasher.  All in all a very enjoyable weekend with 97 species!  Check out the complete species list here.
Photo Op

FBC Outing to Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Eleven members of the Fredericksburg Bird Club ventured to the Maryland Eastern Shore during the extended weekend of Friday, February 17, 2012 through Sunday, February 19, 2012.  The trip began on Friday with a walk at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (formerly Horsehead Wetlands) in Grasonville, MD where Brown-headed Nuthatch and Red-breasted Nuthatch were the top birds.  After lunch at the Easton Diner, our intrepid group continued on to the Easton Water Treatment Plant where there were several thousand Canada Geese and one lone dark morph Snow Goose.  We then made a quick stop at Oakley Street in Cambridge, MD for close looks at hundreds of Canvasbacks and Lesser Scaup, along with a few Common Goldeneye, American Wigeon and Redhead.  This location is a favorite of waterfowl photographers because the birds are enticed to come close by offerings of cracked corn!  We checked out Shorter’s Wharf below Blackwater NWR where Short-eared Owl and Rough-legged Hawk had been reported.  We missed both of those birds but were rewarded by sights of several hunting Northern Harriers.  Friday ended with an enjoyable dinner at the Suicide Bridge Restaurant in Hurlock, MD.

Saturday began with stops at several locations in Cambridge where we were treated to the sight of mating Common Goldeneyes at Great Marsh Park.  Our stop along Riverside Drive produced at least 10,000 Snow Geese on the Choptank River, along with Surf Scoters, a Common Loon and a surprise Northern Gannet.  The drive along Egypt Road to Blackwater NWR gave us our first Horned Lark of the trip.  The Wildlife Drive in Blackwater NWR was filled with thousands of Canada Geese but the Snow Geese usually seen in the close-in corn fields were far off-shore.  But Blackwater did not disappoint us with the many views of Bald Eagle.  A stop at the refuge Visitor Center gave us a tip to try Decoursey Bridge Road for Golden Eagle and we were not disappointed there either!  We then continued to Hooper Island where the species of the day was a small group of Sanderling.  After another stop at Oakley Street in Cambridge we returned to the hotel for a quick clean-up and then dinner at the Canvasback Restaurant in downtown Cambridge.

Sunday began early with a drive to Elliott Island for more waterfowl.  A stop at Lewis Wharf along Elliott Island Road gave us more Horned Lark, Northern Harrier, a Red-tailed Hawk and a few Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Our outing ended at the Elliott Island Wharf with nice looks at Horned Grebe, Common Loon and many, many Ruddy Duck.  Our group then split up to make their way back to Virginia in hopes of getting ahead of a threatening snow storm.  On the way home, one fortunate group was treated to a close-up (as in right next to the car) look of a female Ring-necked Pheasant to complete a very enjoyable weekend.  See a complete list of species on the ‘Field Trips Report Page.’

-Bev Smith