Date: 3/11/18 5:08 pm From: pep4223 <pep4223...> Subject: PVAS public bird walk, Claymont mansion property, Jefferson County
You never quite know what to expect for weather when you lead bird walks in the winter and spring. I woke up to 20 degrees at my house, and felt like crawling back in bed. But the temperature slowly climbed, and by the time I arrived at Claymont, it was 24 degrees F. What a change from the teaser warm weather we had last month.
Seven brave birders, dressed properly for the weather, ventured along trails through frost coated fields, and had the privilege of watching the mist and fog rise on the wetland at Claymont. Two male Wood Ducks swam like kings with a solo female in their presence. Getting out of bed early today was totally worth it.
Claymont has assortment of owls on the property, including an active Great Horned Owl nest. This is the second or third year for that particular nest. The bird song this morning was enough to awaken your spirit, and it was great to start tuning up the ears in preparation for spring migration.
Claymont has been a participant in the Potomac Audubon Society Grassland Birds Initiative since 2015. One of the benefits of that partnership is being able to experience the beauty of Field Sparrows on a safe breeding ground. They were singing their dropping ping-pong ball song throughout the morning. I estimated we had at least 20 males trying to attract mates. When I walk this property, I am reminded that this land management ethic of providing safety and food for our grassland birds does not exist in many places on private property today. What a pity.
No Eastern Meadowlarks today, and this seems to be typical in the Eastern Panhandle. I don't believe how low the numbers of meadowlarks have gotten. It worries me that we are in serious trouble with this, and other grassland species. If we can't provide a place to breed on our public lands (battlefields), then they will eventually die, like the dinosaurs did. I've learned that just because we are protecting the land at Claymont for the Eastern Meadowlark, it doesn't mean we can save this species. Everywhere this bird goes, it cannot reproduce due to our failure to notice what we are doing to its nesting grounds.
The Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds are back. We watched a huge stream of grackles fly over, numbering an estimated 2,100 birds. Just 6 cowbirds (good), and 14 Red-wings were found.
According to my eBird tracker, we walked 3.6 miles and had 34 different species. Our bird list follows: