Date: 9/1/17 7:29 am From: Bennett, Chris (DNREC) <Chris.Bennett...> Subject: [de-birds] Last Evening Heronry Survey of 2017
I was joined by eight volunteer counters this past Wednesday, 30 August for the final evening heronry survey of 2017. The survey began at 5:36 pm and ended at 8:06 pm. As is usual for the August survey we only had a few birds in the first 90 minutes (32) and the last 30 minutes (11) of the survey. The vast majority (659) were seen in the fourth half our of the survey with flocks of more than 70 birds heading out to the island together. The bulk of the flight (98%) was composed of Little Blue Heron (353 total) and Cattle Egret (337 total). The final tally did include six species. For the second survey in a row we observed White Ibis (a single immature bird) during the survey. This is the first time in the 15 year history of the survey that we have observed White Ibis in multiple surveys in a single year. We counted 8 birds in July 2015 and a 1 in May 2003. The totals are below in the following format
SPECIES NAME total counted going TO the island/total counted coming FROM the island: Total - AVERAGE* from all previous surveys/MEDIAN* from all previous surveys
*Mean and Median are only given for Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret and Total. It is fairly common for numbers of all other species to be relatively low in August as they have already started moving south or (more likely) they chose to roost closer to the areas where they forage during the day.
Great Blue Heron 1/0:1
Little Blue Heron 353/0:353 - 252.31/257
Cattle Egret 337/0:337 - 313.62/219
Snowy Egret 6/0:6
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 4/0:4
White Ibis 1/0:1
TOTAL 702/0:702 - 643/515
We had lots of time to observe the other bird species flying around Delaware City in the two hours of the survey when herons, egrets and ibises were pretty sparse. The best non-wading birds of the evening were three Common Nighthawks that flew over Battery Park and the old Delaware City Hotel (Crabby Dicks) heading NORTH. Other birds included Mallard, American Black Duck, Canada Goose, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk (perched in a snag out near Fort Delaware), Cooper's Hawk (an immature bird flew through Battery Park and headed out over the river towards Pea Patch), Caspian and Forster's Tern, Herring, Ring-billed, Great Black-backed and Laughing Gulls, thousands of Crows (voiciferous birds seemed to be mostly Fish with lesser numbers of American) and Barn, Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows.
I want to thank all of the volunteers that came out and helped me conduct these surveys this year. I would not be able to continue this survey without their help. The next survey will be conducted on Wednesday February 28, 2018 beginning at 3:54 pm. You are all invited to come out and help. You could be there when we make history and record 3 species in a February survey or surpass the all-time February high count of 136! It's February for crying out loud and can be pretty cold and lonely!!
Delaware State Parks
Environmental Stewardship Program Manager