Date: 9/20/17 4:23 pm
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Smith I., Elliott I., Blackwater, Ferry Neck, Sept. 12-18, 2017.
FERRY NECK, SMITH I., ELLIOTT I. RD. & BLACKWATER N.W.R., SEPTEMBER 12-18, 2017. Beautiful, but not that birdy, late summer days, with moderate temperatures, sunny, and light winds. Lots of bright yellow flowers.

SEPTEMBER 12, TUESDAY. RIGBY’S FOLLY. Arrive at 4:35. Two adult bald eagles roosting in pines at the head of Poplar Cove. We smell a dead animal somewhere out front and 5 turkey vultures and a black vulture are attracted by whatever it is, fly low over the lawn area. American kestrel 2. 30 laughing gulls hawking insects over Anderby Hall Road. Spotted sandpiper 1. Liz hears a screech-owl at 8 P.M. One belted kingfisher. One royal tern.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: diamondback terrapin 3, eastern cottontail 2. In the planter with the parsley are 3 big black swallowtail caterpillars and 13 smaller ones that have reduced the parsley to mere stalks. Liz will buy more parsley for them tomorrow. 1” in the rain gauge since September 1, but it has dried out some. Lots of “wheat” and other weeds in the bean fields including some jimsom weed. fair, calm, 78.

SEPTEMBER 13, WEDNESDAY. SMITH ISLAND, MD, with the Friends of Blackwater, 10 A.M. - 3 P.M. with Marcia Pradines, Michele Whitbeck, and Matt Whitbeck from Blackwater plus Mary Lynch, Kathy Slaughter, and others (16 total). 38 species, Ewell, Goat Island, Swan Island, a near circumnavigation of Glenn L. Martin N.W.R., walk down Marsh Road c. 1/3 mi. towards Rhodes Point with Peter Smithson while the others lunch. I enjoyed seeing the heavily-laden pomegranate bushes as well as some big fig trees. Complete list:

American black duck 26, double-crested cormorant 48, brown pelican 85, great blue heron 4, great egret 24, snowy egret 3, little blue heron 8 (mostly adults), tricolored heron 10, green heron 1, yellow-crowned night heron 2 immatures, glossy ibis 7, turkey vulture 3, osprey 24, bald eagle 4 (2 ad., 2 imm.), northern harrier 1, red-tailed hawk 1 imm., clapper rail 6, American oystercatcher 1, black-bellied plover 1, unIDd sandpiper 6, sanderling 2, laughing gull 55, ring-billed gull 1, herring gull 575 (most on the north jetty), great black-backed gull 125, Caspian tern 7, Forster’s tern 1, royal tern 16, rock pigeon 4, belted kingfisher 1, fish crow 70, tree swallow 1, Carolina wren 1, American robin 1, gray catbird 1 (Matt W.), northern mockingbird 2, European starling 12, boat-tailed grackle 3, and house sparrow 31.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: black swallowtail 1, scissor-grinder cicada (I think) 4, seaside dragonlet 9, cloudless sulphur 4, and diamondback terrapin 1. Capt. Dale Tyler in the ‘Ms. Tyler’ took us out from Crisfield, 16 of us, we lunched at the Bayside Inn Restaurant, then viewed the extensive rip rap work on the west & north sides of the refuge, the result of funds acquired after Hurricane Sandy.

John Weske has provided the pelican banders with a helpful summary of banding in this area. Just a few miles south of Ewell at South Point Marsh, which is in Virginia, on two forays this year a total of 1,509 brown pelican chicks were banded this year. Due to time and our energy hundreds were not banded, but the goal was to band a good portion of this colony, not everything, from the over 1,000 nests here. In addition 15 or so miles to the north Dave Brinker et al. banded 224 pelican chicks on Adam I., in Dorchester County, MD. The grand total for the central Bay was therefore 1,733.

In 2016 John et al. banded 535 pelican chicks at South Point Marsh while Dave Brinker and his helpers banded 135 at Adam Island and 879 on nearby Holland Island. So the 2016 total for the central Chesapeake Bay was 1,549. Pelicans have a recovery rate for c. 8% so eventually circa 124 of the 2016 pelicans and 139 of the 2017 ones will be heard from again, found dead on a Florida beach, shot in Cuba, or whatever. By such means it has been learned that the Chesapeake pelicans very rarely venture north, on the Gulf coast, of the St. Petersburg-Tampa-Clearwater area during the colder months, and so were not affected much, if at all, by the big oil spill in the Gulf several years ago.

CRISFIELD: 15 or so semipalmated sandpipers, 4 ospreys, 60 herring gulls, 75 cormorants, one brown pelican, and a great blue heron. Mostly sunny, high c. 80, winds 8-15, low tide at Ewell at 1:31 P.M. Lovely weather.

SEPTEMBER 14, THURSDAY. RIGBY’S FOLLY. bald eagle 6, American redstart 2, blue-gray gnatcatcher 3, northern parula 1, eastern kingbird 3, common tern 1, ruby-throated hummingbird 2, chimney swift 1, barn swallow 1, tree swallow 5, osprey 2, Carolina chickadee 4, royal tern 4, Forster’s tern 8, snowy egret 2. Liz hears a screech-owl at 8:38 P.M. Two tailless red-winged blackbirds. Fair, 70-82, S 15-5.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: the highlight - 2 beautiful common checkered skippers in the clover plus 3 cloudless sulphurs, 7 monarchs, 2 cabbage whites, 2 pearl crescents. An eastern cottontail. 3 green frogs in the Waterthrush Pond. One painted turtle in Frog Hollow. Three gray squirrels.

SEPTEMBER 15, FRIDAY. RIGBY’S FOLLY. Ten bald eagles (7 adults & an immature in sight simultaneously). Eight ospreys. Two snowy egrets. Two green herons. Royal tern 2, Forster’s tern 4, barn swallow 3, black vulture 8. BUTTERFLIES: painted lady 2, pearl crescent 3, monarch 3, cloudless sulphur 2, cabbage white 3, buckeye 3, and red-spotted purple 1 plus 4 LBJs. Gray squirrel 3, incl. one with dark reddish-brown underparts that I’ll call “Rubirosa”. 73-82, fair or clear, NNE5 but mostly NW 10-5

SEPTEMBER 16, SATURDAY. ELLIOTT ISLAND ROAD, a segment of the 22nd Dorchester County fall bird count. EIR in its entirety, Vienna, Lewis Wharf Road, Griffith Neck Road, and BNWR’s Kuehnle Tract. 84 species. 5:15 A.M. - 7:15 P.M. 99 miles by car. 62-84 degrees F., clear or fair becoming overcast c. 5 P.M. with occasional rain even though the sun was partially out resulting in a nice rainbow, winds calm or else east 5-10. High tide at McCready’s Creek at 11:28 A.M. Complete list (numbers for Kuehnle Tract [1:15 - 2:15 P.M.] are in parentheses, 25 species):

Canada goose 18 (15), wood duck (1), American black duck 17, mallard 1, blue-winged teal 2, northern pintail 1 female, wild turkey 1, pied-billed grebe 3, rock pigeon 2, mourning dove 45 (2), clapper rail 1, Virginia rail 6, common gallinule 1, semipalmated plover 1, killdeer 1, greater yellowlegs 11, lesser yellowlegs 1, laughing gull 300 (65), ring-billed gull 3, herring gull 62,

Caspian tern 8, Forster’s tern 18, royal tern 1, double-crested cormorant 30, great blue heron 13 (1), great egret 102 (5), snowy egret 33, little blue heron 2 adults, tricolored heron 12, black vulture 4 (3), turkey vulture 115 (18), osprey 10, bald eagle 24 (0 but 2 nests seen), northern harrier 4, eastern screech-owl 6, belted kingfisher (1),

red-headed woodpecker 3, red-bellied woodpecker (1), downy woodpecker 7, pileated woodpecker (1), American kestrel 1, eastern wood-pewee 13, eastern phoebe 2, great crested flycatcher (1), eastern kingbird 1, white-eyed vireo 1, yellow-throated vireo (1), red-eyed vireo 4 (1), blue jay 9 (3), American crow 25, Carolina chickadee 17 (4), tufted titmouse 8 (2), brown-headed nuthatch 9 (1), house wren 6, marsh wren 6, Carolina wren 8 (2), blue-gray gnatcatcher 4 (1), veery 3, Swainson’s thrush 1,

gray catbird 4, northern mockingbird 5, European starling 115, house sparrow 1, ovenbird 2, black-and-white warbler 7 (1), common yellowthroat 4, American redstart 11 (2), northern parula 1, magnolia warbler 1, yellow warbler 1, pine warbler 17 (3), prairie warbler 1, Canada warbler 1, Savannah sparrow 7, seaside sparrow 2, song sparrow 2, swamp sparrow 1, summer tanager 2 (1), NORTHERN CARDINAL 1, red-winged blackbird 30, eastern meadowlark 1, common grackle 5, brown-headed cowbird 2.

A pleasant but rather barren day with these notable misses: goldfinch, bluebird, brown pelican, green heron, red-tailed hawk, northern flicker, fish crow, any swallows, brown thrasher, chipping sparrow, towhee, blue grosbeak, indigo bunting, and boat-tailed grackle. I mean, really.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: eastern cottontail 1, red fox 1 (plus 2 d.o.r.), gray squirrel 1 d.o.r., raccoon 1 d.o.r., diamondback terrapin 1, orange sulphur 2, cloudless sulphur 7, monarch 6, common wood nymph 1, cabbage white 3, lbjs (unIDd little blue jobs - butterflies) 3. No deer.

SEPTEMBER 17, SUNDAY. BLACKWATER N.W.R., 7:15 - 1 (birding tour 8-12), 69-82, calm or NE 5, clear or fair, water levels all high. 10 on this guided birding tour: Harry & Liz Armistead, Bill & Jane Hill, Karen Caruso, Leo Weigant, Pam Smith, Tom Cimino, Don Chance, Linda Anderson. Ave atque vale for Pam who is moving back to her native New Hampshire. 50 species, some seen before or after the official tour, and/or at Cambridge. Complete list:

Canada goose 40, mallard 8, wild turkey 18 (I think this is how many Tom said he saw from Egypt Road), rock pigeon 4, mourning dove 4, ruby-throated hummingbird 1, killdeer 6, greater yellowlegs 4, laughing gull 90, ring-billed gull 3, herring gull 6 (Cambridge), great black-backed gull 2 (Cambridge), Caspian tern 20, Forster’s tern 155, double-crested cormorant 24 immatures (at Sewards), AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN 3, great blue heron 4, great egret 6, black vulture 4, turkey vulture 30, bald eagle 14, northern harrier 1 beautiful adult male, red-tailed hawk 1,

belted kingfisher 1, red-headed woodpecker 3, pileated woodpecker 1, blue jay 5, American crow 8, tree swallow 7, Carolina chickadee 4, tufted titmouse 2, brown-headed nuthatch 4, blue-gray gnatcatcher 1, eastern bluebird 2, American robin 8 (Cambridge), gray catbird 2, northern mockingbird 4, European starling 45, house sparrow 6, common yellowthroat 1 (in the Butterfly Garden), pine warbler 2, chipping sparrow 2, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW 1 (spotted by Tom; great views through the scope), blue grosbeak 2, bobolink 30, red-winged blackbird 25 (most of them having molted their tails), common grackle 6, brown-headed cowbird 2.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: 2 green tree frogs at the Visitor Center, one in extremis. redbelly turtle 2. painted turtle 2. eastern cottontail 1. gray squirrel 2 (Cambridge). The tickseed sunflowers (Coreopsis) cover much of some of the impoundments, so bright yellow as to be somewhat blinding. Most of the blooming hibiscus are over. Lots of cloudless sulphurs, 8 black swallowtails, 6 monarchs, and a common wood nymph.

Back at Rigby’s Folly: A female merlin. An adult red-tailed hawk being harassed by 2 American crows. Fair or clear in late afternoon, NE5+, 81 degrees F., beautiful. A great blue heron sunbathing with its wings cupped, making life difficult for ectoparasites or perhaps it just feels good?

SEPTEMBER 18, MONDAY. Overcast, occasional light drizzle, NE 10, 70 degrees F. Carolina wren foraging at close range for an extended period in the boxwood closest to the front porch. One gray squirrel missing the tip of its tail (“the tipless one” that I’ll dub “Tipless in Talbot”). It’s been a while since I’ve seen the several other gray squirrels I’ve given nicknames to: “Santa Claws”, “Snowshoes”, “Half Tail”, and “Tail Half-red”. Perhaps they’ve passed on to the Happy Scampering Grounds. Leave by c. 9 A.M. A bald eagle soaring near Ruthsburg over Route 481.

Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia.

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