Date: 9/20/17 5:50 pm
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Dorchester fall count, September 16, 2017.
22nd DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND, FALL BIRD COUNT, Saturday, September 16, 2017. 166 species (148 in 2106, 146 in 2015).


WATERFOWL: Canada goose 418 (8: 1-120), tundra swan 2 (present for a long time; Hurlock; photographed), wood duck 109 (4: 1-98), American black duck 25 (3: 2-17), mallard 597 (8: 1-500), blue-winged teal 12 (4: 1-5), northern shoveler 43 (Hurlock), northern pintail 3 (2: 1-2), green-winged teal 38 (2: 11-27), ring-necked duck 1 male (Hurlock; photographed, present for some time), ruddy duck 19 (2: 1-18),


northern bobwhite 3 (on the verge of extirpation?), wild turkey 3 (2: 1-2; low count), common loon 1 (hard to get on this count), pied-billed grebe 6 (2: 3-3),


RALLIDS: clapper rail 2 (2: 1-1), king rail 2, Virginia rail 23 (4: 3-7), common gallinule 2 (2: 1-1; seems to be in decline here),


SHOREBIRDS : American oystercatcher 2, black-bellied plover 9 (2: 4-5), AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER 28 (photographed; MB), semipalmated plover 32 (5: 1-26), killdeer 29 (7: 1-20), HUDSONIAN GODWIT 1 (Hurlock; photographed; MB), sanderling 4, least sandpiper 40 (2: 10-30), pectoral sandpiper 19 (2: 5-14), semipalmated sandpiper 34 (3: 8-15), western sandpiper 1 (photographed), spotted sandpiper 1, solitary sandpiper 1, greater yellowlegs 31 (4: 1-17), lesser yellowlegs 30 (4: 1-13), RED-NECKED PHALAROPE 1 (GR,DI,JR et al.; photographed),


LARIDS: laughing gull 884 (9: 2-300), ring-billed gull 80 (5: 3-28), herring gull 478 (7: 1-178), great black-backed gull 117 (3: 2-111), unIDd gull 7, unIDd tern 2, Caspian tern 13 (2: 5-8), common tern 45 (3: 1-41), Forster’s tern 644 (8: 1-384), royal tern 102 (5: 1-80; most of them at Crocheron),


the PRIMITIVES: double-crested cormorant 617 (8: 1-417), AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN 3 (BNWR), brown pelican 387 (3: 4-377; 377 seen from Hooper’s Island), great blue heron 82 (8: 1-28), great egret 162 (5: 2-102), snowy egret 78 (5: 2-33), little blue heron 2 adults (EIR), tricolored heron 12 (EIR), cattle egret 44 (Taylor’s Island), green heron 2 (2: 1-1), glossy ibis 2,


RAPTORS: black vulture 33 (8: 1-11), turkey vulture 304 (10: 2-115), vulture unIDd 3, osprey 24 (5, 2-10), bald eagle 104 (10: 1-31), northern harrier 6 (3, 1-4), sharp-shinned hawk 7 (3: 1-5), Cooper’s hawk 8 (5, 1-3), red-shouldered hawk 3 (3: 1-1), red-tailed hawk 5 (4: 1-2), American kestrel 27 (8: 1-9),


“TRANSITIONAL” LANDBIRDS: rock pigeon 39 (4: 1-34), mourning dove 145 (10: 1-45), yellow-billed cuckoo 8 (4: 1-3), common nighthawk 5 (2: 2-3), chimney swift 4 (remarkably low), ruby-throated hummingbird 21 (7: 1-10), belted kingfisher 10 (6: 1-3


OWLS: eastern screech-owl 45 (5: 3-23; 23 in the greater Taylor’s Island area), great horned owl 9 (3: 1-7), barred owl 10 (2: 2-8),


WOODPECKERS: red-headed woodpecker 25 (6: 1-7), red-bellied woodpecker 30 (8: 1-10), downy woodpecker 65 (9: 2-18), hairy woodpecker 11 (5: 1-4), northern flicker 31 (7: 2-7), pileated woodpecker 20 (7: 1-6),


FLYCATCHERS: OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER 1 (JE), eastern wood-pewee 53 (9: 2-15), Acadian flycatcher 1, least flycatcher 2 (2: 1-1), empidonax unIDd 8 (2: 1-7), eastern phoebe 7 (4: 1-2), great crested flycatcher 13 (5: 1-5), eastern kingbird 1 (EIR),


VIREOS: white-eyed vireo 33 (8: 1-13), yellow-throated vireo 1 (Kuehnle Tract of BNWR), warbling vireo 1 (Greenbrier Swamp), red-eyed vireo 24 (5: 2-8),


CORVIDS: blue jay 192 (10: 3-32), American crow 173 (9: 7-39), fish crow 2 (a peculiar species to be a squeaker, eh?), unIDd crow 19,


LARK & SWALLOWS: horned lark 21 (2: 3-18), purple martin 6 (3: 1-4), tree swallow 50 (how odd to be seen by only 1 party), bank swallow 2 (Hurlock), barn swallow 22 (4: 1-12),


LI’L SPRITES: Carolina chickadee 145 (10: 3-47), tufted titmouse 101 (10: 2-23), white-breasted nuthatch 1, brown-headed nuthatch 128 of the little things (9: 1-50), BROWN CREEPER 1 (SS, a good find this early on), house wren 31 (5: 1-12), marsh wren 8 (2: 2-6), Carolina wren 129 (10: 6-23), blue-gray gnatcatcher 40 (4: 7-21), ruby-crowned kinglet 1,


THRUSH TYPES: eastern bluebird 79 (8: 3-18), veery 13 (4: 3-4; so often we don’t find any), Swainson’s thrush 19 (3: 1-17; usually miss this), wood thrush 1, American robin 89 (6: 1-60), gray catbird 43 (10: 1-8), brown thrasher 22 (7: 1-8), northern mockingbird 64 (9: 2-15),


European starling 1,478 (9: 4-807), cedar waxwing 17 (4: 3-6), house sparrow 31 (5: 1-15), house finch 6 (3: 1-4), American goldfinch 38 (7: 2-12),


WARBLERS: ovenbird 4 (3: 1-2), worm-eating warbler 1, northern waterthrush 3, blue-winged warbler 1, black-and-white warbler 24 (6: 1-8), Tennessee warbler 6 (4: 1-2), common yellowthroat 62 (9: 2-13), hooded warbler 2 (2: 1-1), American redstart 71 (8: 2-17), Cape May warbler 3 (2: 1-2), northern parula 21 (7: 1-11), magnolia warbler 21 (4: 1-9), bay-breasted warbler 2 (2: 1-1), Blackburnian warbler 2 (2: 1-1), yellow warbler 11 (5: 1-4), chestnut-sided warbler 2, blackpoll warbler 2 (2: 1-1), palm warbler 2 (2: 1-1), pine warbler 99 (9: 1-30), prairie warbler 3 (2: 1-2), black-throated green warbler 3 (2: 1-2), Canada warbler 1 (EIR), yellow-breasted chat 2 (2: 1-1; yes, I know. No longer considered a warbler, but included here for old times’ sake), warbler unIDd 4 (2: 2-2),


SPARROWS: eastern towhee 8 (3: 1-5), chipping sparrow 131 (9: 1-55; an utterly harmless, inoffensive species), field sparrow 6 (2: 2-4), Savannah sparrow 8 (2: 1-7), seaside sparrow 6 (2: 2-4), song sparrow 3 (2: 1-2), swamp sparrow 1, sparrow unIDd 2,


the PRETTY ONES: summer tanager 18 (7: 1-3), scarlet tanager 4, northern cardinal 91 (9: 1-22), rose-breasted grosbeak 5 (2: 1-4), blue grosbeak 32 (7: 1-9), indigo bunting 17 (6: 1-6), DICKCISSEL 1 (GR,DI,JR et al.),


BLACKBIRDS, if you will: bobolink 212 (7: 2-121), red-winged blackbird 1,027 (7: 5-700), eastern meadowlark 1 (in flight over Gadwall Bend, EIR; sometimes miss the EAME), common grackle 157 (3: 1-151), brown-headed cowbird, if you will excuse the expression, 634 (8: 2-330), Baltimore oriole 5.


SECTORS with their participants:


Marcia Balestri, north of Route 50 incl. Hurlock, the Shiloh Church Turf Farm, North Tara Road, Brookview, Rhodesdale, Indiantown Road, Reid Road, Rhodesdale.


Matt Whitbeck, restricted areas of Blackwater N.W.R. (Howard Tract, Greenbriar Swamp)


George Radcliffe, Wayne Bell & M.O.S. youth birders: Taylor's I., Slaughter & Parsons creeks, Smithville Road S to Moneystump

Swamp. Christine & Jasper Merry, Lisa & Patrick Newcombe, Daniel & Jonathan Irons, Jerald Reb.


Jeff Effinger, Hooper's I., Hip Roof Road, Meekins Neck, Swan Harbor.


Steve & Robin Ford, east-central county S of Rt. 50, including Kraft Neck Rd., some of Steele Neck Rd., areas W of Elliott I. Rd.


Dave Palmer, greater Blackwater N.W.R. and on S to Lakesville, Crapo, Wingate, Shorter's Wharf, Cedar Creek Rd., Crocheron, et al.


Harry Armistead, Elliott I. Rd., Lewis Wharf Rd., BNWR Kuehnle Tract & adjacent Griffith Neck Rd., Bestpitch, and Transquaking River.


Colin McAllister, Neck District (west of Cambridge).


Frank Morgan, roads off of Rt. 16 from Cambridge city limits to Woolford & Madison. Maple Dam Rd. from its intersection with Key Wallace Drive N to Cambridge city limits, but not Key Wallace Drive. Also, Route 335 from Rt. 16 to but not including Key Wallace Drive.


Suzette Stitely, the greater Cambridge city limits.


TOP TEN: SPECIES WITH THE HIGHEST COUNTS: European starling 1,478; red-winged blackbird 1,027; laughing gull 884; Forster’s tern 644; brown-headed cowbird 634; double-crested cormorant 617; mallard 597; herring gull 478; Canada goose 418; brown pelican 387.


FAMILY REPRESENTATION: waterfowl 11 (good); rallids 4 (O.K.); shorebirds 17 (good); larids 8 (merely O.K.); heron types 8 (good); raptors 10 (O.K.); owls 3; woodpeckers 6; flycatchers 7 (very good); vireos 4 (good); swallows 4 (good); warblers 23 (very good); sparrows 7 (O.K.)


THE ORDER OF THINGS: here is unorthodox based on the official, erratic, M.O.S. fall list, that I have rearranged slightly.


SEEN IN ALL 10 SECTORS (8 species only): mourning dove, turkey vulture, bald eagle, blue jay, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, Carolina wren, gray catbird. Why there aren’t more: some sectors were only covered for a few hours. Some lacked saltmarsh or open bay areas. Coverage varied from 3-4 hours hours to 16. One area was covered entirely on foot. The 4 areas with the combined longest hours with most varied and/or favorable habitat recorded species totals of 90, 88, 88 & 99.


SYMBOLISM, NUMBERS MUMBO JUMBO. Canada goose 418 (8: 1-120) represents that CGs had a grand total of 418 seen in 8 sectors with high and low counts of 1 and 120 respectively. If there’s just a # after a species name, no parenthetical stuff, that means the birds were seen by just 1 party. Semipalmated sandpiper 34 (3: 8-15) represents same data types as under Canada goose above, but when just 3 parties found the bird by totaling the low and high (8 + 15 = 23) and subtracting that from the grand total of 34 the total seen by the 3rd party, 11, can be determined. I think indicating these numbers helps to understand the status of a species in this area.


EFFORT: 19 observers (some of them non-birding parents) in 10 sectors, as good coverage as it ever gets hereabouts. Miles by car 397, by foot 28. Hours by car 32, by foot 56. Owling miles 83, owling hours 15. 2:30 A.M. - 7:15 P.M.


MISTAKES: Please let me know if you see any. They’re here probably. Trying to get this report out before I go to Kiptopeke for 16 days on September 25.


SEPTEMBER ODDITIES: Missing boat-tailed grackle a surprise, although I do think they’re declining here. Notice the puny numbers, at least compared to those in the spring, of yellowthroat, crested flycatcher, kingbird, Osprey, towhee, meadowlark, all sparrows except chippie, robins, and blackbirds to some extent. This is normal, happens every September.


WEATHER: A lovely late summer day. clear or fair all day, 62-84 degrees F., winds calm or NE 5-10. Late in the afternoon it became mostly overcast with intermittent rain for c. 15 minutes, occasionally heavy for a few minutes, yet with concomitant sunshine resulting in a nice rainbow off to the east from c. 5:15 P.M. on for the rest of the day.


UN-EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: About the best coverage ever. There was a nice fallout of migrants at Taylor’s Island but not much anywhere else. All 10 sectors contributed unique species. Of the 8 unIDd empidonax it is almost certain some were Traill’s Flycatchers, but none were ID’d as such, so, we’ll just have to let them go unIDd.


SUN: sunrise 6:47; sunset 7:10. Moon rise 2:45 A.M., set 5:08 P.M., 22% visible.


TIDES (low, high, low):

McCready's Creek, Elliott I.: 5:50, 11:28, 5:59.

Barren I.: 6:14, 11:20, 5:26.

Middle Hooper's I.: 6:31, 11:25, 5:43.

Bishop's Head: 5:32, 11:11, 5:41.

Taylor's I., Slaughter Creek: 8:10, 12:50, 7:22.

Cambridge: 8:42, 1:23, 7:54.



ABRREVIATIONS: BNWR, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, EIR, Elliott Island Road. others are some of the observers’ initials.


EFFORT: 19 observers in 10 sectors.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Many thanks to Eric Barnhart for granting access to Hurlock Wastewater Treatment Plant on a day when that facility is closed. Thanks to Matt Whitbeck for facilitating access to BNWR’s Kuehnle Tract. Biggest thanks go to the participants. I received all of their neat, complete lists in less than 3 days after the day of the count.


Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia.

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