Date: 5/2/18 8:51 am
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Ferry Neck, Blackwater N.W.R. & Fort Smallwood, April 28-30, 2018.
FERRY NECK, BLACKWATER N.W.R. & FORT SMALLWOOD PARK, APRIL 28-30, 2018.


APRIL 28, SATURDAY. RIGBY’S FOLLY, Ferry Neck, Talbot County, MD. Arrive at 3:15 P.M., clear becoming fair then overcast (unfair, but get used to it) at 7 P.M., 78 degrees F., winds SW 10-15-20, warm. 1.6” in the rain gauge since April 24, loads of standing water in the fields, ditches full, but am still able to drive across Field 1 out to Lucy Point.


NON-AVIAN TAXA: 4 painted turtles in the vernal pool in Woods 4 and another in Frog Hollow even though their favorite basking log there is submerged. Lots of periwinkles on the rip rap; we’d seen them back on April 23, too. One Pearlcrescent. Windy with “cats paws” racing over the “face of the waters”. Diamondback terrapin 4, overdue firsts of the year. northern watersnake 1. eastern cottontail 1. gray squirrel 3. Seven deer in Field 4, another at the head of Poplar Cove. at BELLEVUE: a least tern at 7 P.M.


There’s been a small influx of migrants - the towhee, Hermit Thrushes, some white-throats, a hummer, catbirds. Nice. As with our visit a few days ago, a lot of skydancing ospreys, carrying fish, showing off. Move over Luke Skywalker. There’s 3 osprey nests in Poplar Cove, 2 on old, leaning, precarious, platforms, one on a neighbor’s dock. Another neighbor continues to try to discourage, with success, such behavior by installing a whirling pinwheel on their boat. But let’s hope that, regionally, ospreys have a better breeding season than they did in 2017. My own breeding season is on hold.


39 bird species. COMPLETE LIST: hermit thrush 2 (foraging on the drive near Field 4), gray catbird 4, brown thrasher 1, Cooper’s hawk 1, white-throated sparrow 8, bald eagle 4, horned grebe 5, common loon 4, tufted titmouse 2, (carrying nesting material), eastern bluebird 1, downy woodpecker 1, great crested flycatcher 1, American crow 5, blue jay 1, northern mockingbird 1, European starling 2, red-winged blackbird 3, common grackle 7, brown-headed cowbird 1, great blue heron 1, snowy egret 1, Canada goose 4, red-tailed hawk 1 adult, turkey vulture 7, black vulture 2, Forster’s tern 3, laughing gull 2, mourning dove 2, barn swallow 9, chimney swift 4, Carolina wren 2, northern cardinal 4, purple martin 3, ruby-throated hummingbird 1, eastern towhee 1 female, wild turkey 6 (Field 4), osprey 10, Carolina chickadee 1.


APRIL 29, SUNDAY. 5:15 A.M., going out the driveway: 1 red fox kit (cute), 6 deer, 1 half-grown raccoon that runs in front of the car for c. 500 feet before veering off into the tangled bush. One of its confreres removed the feeder next to the Magnolia grandiflora and I find it c. 50 feet away. 6:59-7:03 P.M., 33 deer (23 in Field 4, 5 in Field 7, 5 in Field 1). 0.1” of rain last night.


in DORCHESTER COUNTY. BLACKWATER N.W.R., 6:45 A.M. - 1:30 P.M., 45-55, NW 20-30, fair, tidal water rather high, fresh water real high. 13 of us on the “guided birding tour”, to wit: Harry Armistead, Susan Buckingham, Debbie Cole, Joe & Viviane Gentile, Claire LeFebvre, Ben & Kristina Miller, Kate Murphy, Arnold Simon, Cindi Necaise, Joanne & Rick Wilson. Complete list, 53, but - hold it, not so fast! - some of these seen before or after the official tour:


Canada goose 11, mallard 80, gadwall 3 (Pool 1), wild turkey 8 (Egypt Rd. seen by Kate & Arnold), AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN 2, double-crested cormorant 2, great blue heron 6, great egret 9, black vulture 9 (Cambridge, feeding on roadkill), turkey vulture 22, osprey 16, bald eagle 30 (including 2 large young in each of 2 nests), northern harrier 1, Virginia rail 1, semipalmated plover 9, BLACK-NECKED STILT 1, greater yellowlegs 22, lesser yellowlegs 7, least sandpiper 8, dunlin 24, laughing gull 40, ring-billed gull 2, Forster’s tern 6, least tern 5,


mourning dove 4, ruby-throated hummingbird 3, red-headed woodpecker 2 adults, downy woodpecker 1, great crested flycatcher 1, eastern kingbird 3, American crow 10, fish crow 2, purple martin 4, tree swallow 80, barn swallow 65, tufted titmouse 4, Carolina wren 3, eastern bluebird 4, American robin 12, northern mockingbird 6, European starling 20, yellow-rumped (myrtle) warbler 17, common yellowthroat 1, chipping sparrow 16, Savannah sparrow 1, northern cardinal 4, blue grosbeak 5 males, red-winged blackbird 50, common grackle 60, brown-headed cowbird 3, orchard oriole 1, American goldfinch 1, house sparrow 4.


For a good mile stretch along Key Wallace Drive there’s lots of birds right on the pavement. We can’t determine why: the blue grosbeaks, chipping sparrows, cardinals, redwings, grackles, cowbirds, myrtle warblers. Don’t believe I’ve ever seen it QUITE like this ever before.


NON-AVIAN TAXA: red-bellied turtle 2, painted turtle 3, New Jersey chorus frog x (heard by Kate), fox squirrel 1, eastern cottontail 1.


Apres the birding tour Arnold, Kate, and I wander, meander, and wend our way south of the refuge a tad. MAPLE DAM ROAD from its T-junction with Key Wallace Drive down all the way to SHORTER’S WHARF: green-winged teal 6, willet 2, lesser yellowlegs 4, greater yellowlegs 5, least sandpiper 14, American black duck 3, Canada goose 22, and, best of all, a female wood duck with 13 real small, downy young in tow - she’s got her ducklings all in a row - plus 2 other flying woodies, a pair.


LINER’S ROAD: talk about the Middle of Nowhere. Canada goose 17, killdeer 2, American kestrel 1. BLACKWATER ROAD: 5 adult and 1 immature bald eagle, 2 unIDd egrets, 1 unIDd hawk, 1 painted turtle.

GOLDEN HILL: big wild turkey flies across the road: ponderous!


BUCKTOWN: an American kestrel. north of TRAPPE: 225 laughing gulls in fields.


APRIL 30, MONDAY. Going out the driveway, 5:09 - 5:13 A.M.: eastern cottontail 1, deer 1, and red fox kit 1. I’m on the way to Fort Smallwood Park, Anne Arundel County, MD to get my PURPLE GALLINULE fix.


FORT SMALLWOOD PARK, 7:30 A.M. - 1:30 P.M. mid-forties to mid-fifties, NW 20-30, fair, cold! wear gloves and 3-4 layers. Sue Ricciardi has run the hawkwatch here for over 20 years. She’s just revised the park birdlist; I think she said it’s at 279 species with Saltmarsh Sparrow and, since last Thursday, PURPLE GALLINULE, the most recent newbies. Both well-photographed. Let me tell you the park is full of birds today.


I’m alone here for the 1st hour-and-a-half and am able to crank in these birds for Sue’s day totals: blue jay 610, spotted sandpiper 1, barn swallow 20, sharp-shinned hawk 1, merlin 1, cedar waxwing 12, yellow-palm warbler 2 (very close; great views), western palm warbler 1, Caspian tern 2, Cooper’s hawk 1, American goldfinch 30, osprey 7, PURPLE GALLINULE 1 (best seen early in the morning or late afternoon, I’m hearing; I get great views of it, several times), gadwall a pair, bald eagle 1, Canada goose 10, bufflehead 1, horned grebe 1, Bonaparte’s gull 1, turkey vulture 6, and tree swallow 8.


Later on we see an adult little blue heron, and, as I was leaving the parking lot, an eastern kingbird. There’s a pretty good flight of raptors - Sue says just about any wind with an westerly orientation is good for that. Also see 4 deer and a gray squirrel. At one point I count 46 basking turtles of several species.


Sue has had as many as 121 in sight simultaneously this year. There is a huge beaver lodge on the north end of the pond. A river otter was photographed here earlier on. Some of Sue’s totals today are: sharp-shinned hawk 102 (most abundant raptor), osprey 13 (PLUS many local birds, most all carrying fish), turkey vulture 88, broad-winged hawk 33, and a grand total of 254 raptors. Best of all, many of them are low and close.


There’s 1,000s of mussel shells along the tide line, empty, windrows of them, and piles elsewhere removed from the beach. I don’t know WHAT that is all about. For much of the day hundreds of swallows fly close by, sometimes below head level, real close, and within reach of a butterfly net. Feels like they’d collide with us sometimes. Martins and all swallow species except cliffies.


BOMBAY HOOK ON A 2015 QUARTER. $0.25. Happened to see 2 presumed Great Blue Herons on a quarter I got for change at the Cambridge Wawa. A closer look: it says “Delaware. Bombay Hook” on the flip side from George Washington. Thank you U. S. Mint.


NEW YORK TIMES, on shorebirds, especially Bar-tailed Godwit, April 29, 2018, page SR 4 (the entire page) by John W. Fitzpatrick and Nathan R. Senner. Has a color photograph and 2 excellent maps. Heartbreaking, but a story that needs telling. “The globe’s greatest travelers are dying.”


DORCHESTER MAY 5 & 12 BIRD COUNTS. both are Saturdays. Still a few areas that could use coverage. If interested call 410.745.2764 to our MD place, where we do not have email.


Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia.

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