Date: 9/7/17 11:46 am
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Ferry Neck, Blackwater, and (mostly) Eastern Shore of Virginia, August 31 - September 5, 2017.
FERRY NECK, BLACKWATER, AND (mostly) EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA, AUGUST 31- SEPTEMBER 5, 2017.


ABBREVIATIONS: C.B.B.T., Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Virginia. C.V.W.O., Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory. ESVA, Eastern Shore of Virginia. ESVNWR, Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. K.S.P., Kiptopeke State Park, Virginia (esp. the hawkwatch platform). RLAn, Bob Anderson.


C.B.B.T. CLOSURE effective the end of September, Island 1, the fishing pier, the restaurant … everything. Making room for equipment involved with the creation of additional tunnels. Could be years???


AUGUST 31, THURSDAY. Arrive at RIGBY’S FOLLY, Ferry Neck, Talbot County, MD, at 5:20 P.M. 1.65” in our rain gauge fallen since Aug. 22. mostly overcast, humid, WSW 5, 82-78. Wild turkey 5 in Field 4, cedar waxwing 5, Forster’s tern 5, green heron 2, brown thrasher 1, red-tailed hawk 1, snowy egret 1, great blue heron 1, barn swallow 5, European starling 25, bald eagle 3 adults (incl. 1 on the Field 4 pole), osprey 7 (with one on the Field 2 pole), and double-crested cormorant 8 plus a doe and her fawn in Field 2, 3 gray squirrels, 1 Fowler’s toad, 1 monarch, 3 unIDd frogs at The Pond, and 2 eastern cottontails. The ponds and Woods 2 vernal pool are full of water. The lawn and trails have been mowed today.


SEPTEMBER 1, FRIDAY. Take off for Virginia. EGYPT ROAD, DORCHESTER COUNTY, MD, 10:30-11 A.M., mostly high overcast, NE15+, 65-67, cool (real cool, Man). Pretty empty, verging on devoid, not much on the wires: blue grosbeak 2, bald eagle 1, eastern kingbird 2, eastern bluebird 4, American kestrel 1, turkey vulture 4.


BLACKWATER N.W.R., 11 A.M. - 2:10 P.M., overcast, 67-64, NE 10, waters high. Forster’s tern 165, Caspian tern 11, laughing gull 78 (only 2 immatures), osprey just 2, blue-winged teal 14, Virginia rail 2, mourning dove 21, rock pigeon 2, gray catbird 1, eastern wood pewee 2, chipping sparrow 2, double-crested cormorant 26 (all immatures), bald eagle only 5, spotted sandpiper 1, great egret 3, great blue heron 4, European starling 35, barn swallow 8, eastern bluebird 4, eastern kingbird 6, blue grosbeak 1, red-headed woodpecker 1, bobolink 21, BLACK TERN 1, ring-billed gull 13, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN 3, house sparrow 9, Canada goose 4, ruby-throated hummingbird 1, red-winged blackbird 38, and brown-headed cowbird 4 plus 6 painted turtles.


GARGATHA LANDING, ACCOMACK COUNTY, VA, 5:10-5:45 P.M., NE 15, 64 degrees F., overcast, tide c. 1.5’> normal high tide and still rising; clapper rail 1, tricolored heron 1, laughing gull 95, bald eagle 2, great egret 8, double-crested cormorant 12, osprey 1, great blue heron 2, ruby-throated hummingbird 2, American kestrel 2, Forster’s tern 1, and bobolink 1 plus 7 deer incl. a fawn.


SEPTEMBER 2, SATURDAY. ESVNWR (RAMP LANE), a brief visit in the early morning: laughing gull 180 (just 8 of these immatures), tricolored heron 3, snowy egret 2, great egret 2, and mallard 1 plus a baby box turtle. Run into Steve Thornhill and his friend here.


CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE-TUNNEL, Island 1, 8 A.M. - 1:30 P.M., overcast, NE 20 - E or SE 15 declining to 5, 71 degrees F., occasional light drizzle, high tide becoming low tide. Bob Anderson, Thuy Tran, HTA. A good, slow, thorough look-see. 29 species, complete list:


GREAT SHEARWATER 1 (not THAT rare, but the bird-of-the-day for me, a long way from Tristan da Cunha, eh?; seen at 9:42, just off the tapered end of the rocks, hence c. 100 yards away, and looking down on it, flying UP the Bay; beautiful view; sorry the other 2 folks hadn’t arrived yet), ROCK PIGEON 202 (my personal high for here;’ a careful count; 145 initially on Island 1, then a series of small flocks arriving out of the north [how odd] from the other islands presumably), American oystercatcher 1 (Bob has seen as many as 13 here), ruddy turnstone 14 (3 still in breeding plumage), sanderling 7, semipalmated sandpiper 2, western sandpiper 1, spotted sandpiper 1,


LARIDS: laughing gull 315 (steady flight coming out of the north and keeping going), ring-billed gull 10, herring gull 9, great black-backed gull 25, Caspian tern 9, BLACK TERN 5, common tern 66, Forster’s tern 1, royal tern 21, sandwich tern 44 (most hunting in the channel).


double-crested cormorant 10, brown pelican 18, great blue heron 1, yellow-crowned night heron 2 (1 bedraggled adult, 1 immature), osprey 6, belted kingfisher 1, an apparent Myiarchus flycatcher 1 (tantalizing; not seen well; brief look; RLAn,TT), purple martin 2, tree swallow 31, barn swallow 55, and CAROLINA WREN 1 (singing !!).


Also: 2 Loggerhead turtles, 7 dolphins, a large black butterfly, 11 big dragonflies. Ships seen: ‘CSL Virginia’ with Limassol (Cyprus) registry headed out; ‘Maersk Vallvik’, Singapore headed in; ‘Mol Bravo’, Hong Kong, headed out; ‘USNS Gordon’ (U.S. Navy) going out; a trawler ‘Ocean Prowler’ going in.


Love to see the big ships. Takes me back to 1959 when my classmate Lars Egede-Nissen and I were deckhands on the Norwegian freighter ‘Thorsahl’ (probably I spell this incorrectly; sorry, Lars) going to Tahiti, New Caledonia, American and British Samoa, Lae New Guinea, Newcastle and Sydney Australia, and Fiji. $44 a month plus 3 squares and a flop. What a trip that was!


KSP Hawkwatch platform, I’m here 2-5 with Bob, Thuy, Tim Berry, Joe Beatty & the inimitable C.V.W.O. hawkcounter, Anna Stunkel. So glad she’s returned. Summer tanager, yellow-billed cuckoo, and, best of all, a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER that chooses to forage (doesn’t have to be a sycamore or pine) up and down the hawkwatch platform ramp at close range. A beauty. Anna counts 52 ospreys today plus 337 eastern kingbirds, and 152 yellowlegs (bet they are lessers).


ESVNWR - RAMP LANE, 5:30-7:30, Bob, Thuy, Anna & me. overcast, rain at the end, SE15+, 75 degrees F. A productive visit. A great end to a red letter day: eastern kingbird 500 (my confreres think this number is considerably too low, but, it’s what I’m gonna go with), clapper rail 4, laughing gull 225 (39 are immatures), tricolored heron 20, great egret 60, not-so-great egret 40, white ibis 144, merlin 1, American black duck 2, Caspian tern 2, osprey 4, northern harrier 1, northern flicker 1, bobolink 2, bald eagle 2, great blue heron 3, peregrine falcon 1, seaside sparrow 1, brown pelican 12, red-winged blackbird 1 male, and semipalmated plover 1 plus 3 deer.


SEPTEMBER 3, SUNDAY. Start off at the K.S.P. boat ramp where there are at least 680 BROWN PELICANS on the concrete ships at 7:40 A.M., the most I’ve ever seen there. Rest of the day on the K.S.P. hawkwatch platform with Joe, Bob, Thuy & Anna, 8 A.M. - 5 P.M. Not a lot of hawks this early in the year but the company, conversation, and interspersed periods of nice silence, are good. Osprey 73, red-breasted nuthatch 1, glossy ibis 17, the yellow-throated warbler again, 10 blue-gray gnatcatchers. An osprey lands on the T-pole with a small red drum and proceeds to devour it starting with the areas around the mouth and head. Pileated woodpecker 1. blue grosbeak 2.


SEPTEMBER 4, MONDAY (Labor Day). ESVNWR, Ramp Lane, 3 imm. black-crowned night herons, laughing gull only 8, clear, calm, a cool 65 degrees F., great egret 1, i.e., not much. Up at the CITGO STATION (Route 13 X Townsend Drive), strangely productive c. 100 yards to the west: glossy ibis 29, black vulture 18, turkey vulture 14, bobolink 1, herring gull 30, and laughing gull 115. These all back by the seafood company on the S side of Townsend Dr. No cars here but 7 at Royal Farms, 4 at Sting-Ray’s.


Most of the rest of the day at K.S.P. hawkwatch platform with the usual crew: Anna counts 30 ospreys, 204 chimney swifts, and 19 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS (but cf. 43 here on September 25, 1966, as listed in the Gold Book p. 180). c. 200 barn swallows.


RAMP LANE, ESVNWR, a somewhat unproductive visit (as compared with September 2), but, let me tell you, so nice to see the nearly full moon rising over Smith Island, and looking at the island’s lighthouse through the grove of loblolly pines, an adult Bald Eagle sitting on its nest. white ibis 34 (only 3 adults), tricolored heron 1, clapper rail 5, green heron 1, belted kingfisher 1, snowy egret 15, tree & barn swallow combo c. 200, EASTERN KINGBIRD 0, Canada goose 6, great egret 16, ruby-throated hummingbird 1, semipalmated plover 1, double-crested cormorant 14, osprey 1, royal tern 2, great blue heron 2, peep unIDd 2, laughing gull all of 8, and brown pelican 22. 6:45-7:45, clear, SW5, 75 degrees F.


SEPTEMBER 5, Bob Anderson keeps me company as I decompress from my KIptopeke high by brief visits to several of my ESVA favorite places on the way back to Pencil-vain-eye-A. Gull-billed tern singletons at all 3 spots. BOX TREE (Machipongo): 10:05-10:40, SW15, 79, fair, hazy, mid-tide and letting out: - gull-billed tern 1, willet 15, peep unIDd 1, laughing gull 165 (all of them adults), herring gull 8, snowy egret 5, spotted sandpiper 2, Forster’s tern 3, turkey vulture 1, blue-gray gnatcatcher 2 (RLAn), eastern kingbird 1. Some nice little patches of joe pye weed in the lovely saltmarsh near the tiny little tidal gut just before one gets to the road’s end. NASSAWADOX: 1 gray squirrel.


WILLIS WHARF, 11:05-noon, 82-84, SW15, clear, tide going out with mud just starting to become exposed but a lot of mud by the time we leave. Gull-billed tern 1, willet 33, semipalmated plover 1, snowy egret 2, great egret 1, Caspian tern 3, Forster’s tern 6, double-crested cormorant 2, laughing gull 135, ruddy turnstone 18 (resting on a dock), bald eagle 1 adult, killdeer 1, belted kingfisher 1, little blue heron 1 immature, rock pigeon 2, eastern bluebird 1, green heron 1, and diamondback terrapin 1. No marbled godwits yet. A big cinderblock structure going up w/ no trespassing signs in front of the post office makes it hard to check out the prime areas. Usually I look over the fresh water pond off of Ballard Road but not this time.


GARGATHA LANDING (NE of Accomac): SW15+, 85-89, fair, low tide and still falling, fair. 12:50-1:30. Gull-billed tern 1, clapper rail 6 (good views of 2 of these interacting right out in the open), black skimmer 1, barn swallow all of 2, spotted sandpiper 2, peep unIDd 1, snowy egret 6, great egret 3, semipalmated plover 9, bald eagle 2 (1 ad., 1 imm.), laughing gull 30, double-crested cormorant 2, great blue heron 2, tricolored heron 1, black-bellied plover 1, greater yellowlegs 1, willet 3, Forster’s tern 1, Caspian tern 6, royal tern 1, and little blue heron 1 adult plus buckeye 1 and red-spotted purple 1. TREHERNEVILLE, the Tyson chicken plant: 2 immature bald eagles right over the plant. THE BLUE ROUTE outside of Philadelphia, a Cooper’s Hawk standing on the paved shoulder within feet of thousands of cars roaring by, probably hit and stunned. I should have stopped.


PLUS CA CHANGE the more it AIN’T the same. RECENT CHANGES AT KIPTOPEKE. The huge ROYAL FARMS has been open for a several weeks. Has 12 service bays (= 24 sets of gas pumps). A selection of food/drink that makes Sting-Ray’s look like a gourmet’s delight. I’m afraid it may “walmart” some of the smaller, establishments such as the nearby CITGO station (Lankford Truck Plaza) and perhaps even Sting-Ray’s. Loads of cars out front in contrast to none at Citgo about the same time and just a few at Sting-Ray’s. I stopped in, but who wants to wait behind 6 others at the cashier just to get a copy of the Virginian-Pilot? I get mine at Citgo since Sting-Ray’s no longer has a V-P dispenser.


In recent years 3 defunct motels have re-opened. At Sunset Beach Resort there are now 100s of trailers. There’s now an obnoxious commercial food and I-don’t-know-what-else establishment at the entrance to Kiptopeke State Park on the little triangle of land there, apparently for sale. I’m apprehensive about what may happen next in this area to further despoil Kiptopeke’s bucolic qualities.


CLASSICAL MUSIC STATIONS. My poor impression with how such stations report weather is not improved today when I hear “… the overnight high on Wednesday will be 50.” The … high? I’ve also heard recently: “We will keep you apprised on Hurricane Irma”, and then nothing, instead of just saying what is then known about it. In Philadelphia they are even worse with traffic reports. I can’t stand Fred Childs’ delivery, sounds so patronizing and condescending. Peter Van de Graaff is very precise, often playing stuff I’ve never heard by composers I’ve never heard of, sometimes with 3 consecutive French pieces. But that’s O.K.


When you hear someone identified as being from a specific country and/or century you KNOW it will not be a major composer. Some other announcers speak in such hushed, sepulchral tones, as if their mere presence might offend the listener. Others are in love with the sound of their own voice as much as the music. Hard to strike a balance, I guess.


Don’t get me wrong … I like Leadbelly, Johnny Cash, the MJQ, Mose Allison, Bob Dylan, Brubeck, and others just as much as the high tone stuff. Classical stations often say: “Remember, all music was once new.” In the case of classical music my response is: “Unfortunately, some of it still is.” Give me the old warhorses every time.


Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia.

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