Date: 8/22/18 9:30 am
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Ferry Neck, Hurlock, Blackwater (& O.T. DE & NJ), August 15-20, 2018.
FERRY NECK, HURLOCK (& nearby turf farm), BLACKWATER (and Lewes-Cape May Ferry plus Margate, NJ), AUGUST 15-20, 2018.

AUGUST 15, WEDNESDAY. Arrive at Rigby’s Folly 6:30 P.M. SW5, 87, fair. 1.6” in the rain gauge since August 8. A flight of mourning doves headed east totaling 50 in these configurations, in chronological order: 12, 5, 6, 2, 1, 10, 1, 12 and 1, the previous high summer count here 40 on August 13, 1957.

bald eagle 2, the 2 cove flight-capable juvenile ospreys favor our osprey platform where a pair of Canada geese nested earlier this year, 13 American robins going to roost somewhere down Anderby Hall road, diamondback terrapin 1, deer 2 does and 3 fawns in Field 1. Liz counts (at least) 33 black swallowtail caterpillars in our parsley planter. A great horned owl flies through the backyard at dusk. One firefly only, at 8:15 P.M.

AUGUST 16, THURSDAY. Mostly in Dorchester County. HURLOCK WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT, 8-9:30 A.M., 77-78, fair but hazy, SW5, humid. For the next few weeks they’re in the process of installing huge piping with big trucks so access via to usual north end is not permitted. If you go please check in at the office, open only on week days from c. 6:30-10:30, and they’ll tell you what to do. Complete list:

green-winged teal 1, ruddy duck 7, mallard 62, Canada goose 1 (!!), Cooper’s hawk 1, American kestrel 1, spotted sandpiper 5, chimney swift 1, bank swallow 60, tree swallow 65, barn swallow 9, purple martin 35, osprey 1, double-crested cormorant 1, brown-headed cowbird 85, blue grosbeak 3, bobolink 2, European starling 200, and common grackle 8. Swallows all very active hunting at low levels over the cells and dikes.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: snapping turtle 1, turtle unIDd 35, buckeye 6, monarch 1. Most turtles I think are painted or redbellied, only their snouts visible.

TURF FARM c. 1 mi. S of HWwTP on the west side of Route 331 (Shiloh Church Road). Good conditions with a nice wet area. Run into Suzette Stitely here. 9:35-10:15.

Now I (we) could be wrong, but I (we) favor the ID as a RUFF but some others are not so sure. The jury and a couple of photographs are out. Kept to itself but pectoral sandpipers in the immediate area are definitely considerably smaller and not as tall, plus this bird had some blackish feathering on the breast area and the feathers of its upperparts are somewhat, pun intended, ruffled in the manner of many ruffs.

Sibley states … “found mainly in shallow water along grassy edges of muddy ponds.” (p 189) whereas for pectorals he says “ … on weedy or grassy mudflats and in flooded fields.” (p. 184). May not be definitive for separating the 2 but this possible ruff certainly sticks to the edge of the grasses. I’ll let the experts decide. Both species today have yellowish legs.

Other turf farm birds: pectoral sandpiper 7, semipalmated sandpiper 45, least sandpiper 12, lesser yellowlegs 4, greater yellowlegs 1, semipalmated plover 4, black-bellied plover 1, horned lark 1, wild turkey 7, mourning dove 3, mallard 40, Canada goose 75, laughing gull 115, killdeer 13, and these flutterbys: silver-spotted skipper 1, red admiral 1, buckeye 1, monarch 3, cabbage white 2, most of these in the dogbane.

EGYPT ROAD: monarch 3, bald eagle 1. lots of soy bean fields.

BLACKWATER N.W.R., 11:30-1:15, 83-89, fair and hazy, water levels pretty high. AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN 2 (on the far [south] side of “Lake Blackwater”; hadn’t seen any the previous 3 visits), orchard oriole 2, greater yellowlegs 2, great egret 7, great blue heron 4, bald eagle 7, Forster’s tern 7, double-crested cormorant 18 (Sewards “Christmas tree reef”), least will also get you semipalmated sandpipers 8 combo, SEASIDE SPARROW 1 (the only time I’ve ever seen one from Wildlife Drive), ring-billed gull 2, laughing gull 20, and ruby-throated hummingbird 2.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: common whitetail 1, lots of the hibiscus with the smallish pink blossoms, painted turtle 17, redbelly turtle 2, buckeye 1, and monarch 4.

Back at RIGBY’S FOLLY Liz sees 7 eastern bluebirds, a suspected family group. eastern cottontail 2, gray squirrel 4, tiger swallowtail 1, question mark 1, hackberry emperor 3, ruby-throated hummingbird 1, yellow-billed cuckoo 1.

AUGUST 17, FRIDAY. 79-92, fair becoming overcast, SW5. bank swallow 1, bald eagle 3 (2 adults, 1 immature, all nice and close), kettle of 8 turkey vultures, green heron 5, snowy egret 1, great blue heron 2, mourning dove 10, American robin 29 (going to roost towards dusk), an adult great horned owl (sotto voce) and a juvenile (“feed me, Seymour”) each call 12 times right in the backyard in the willow oak (I think) around 7 P.M, Canada goose 2, yellow-billed cuckoo 1, royal tern 2, Forster’s tern 1, and an adult red-tailed hawk.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: gray squirrel 4 (appear within minutes of my putting out the seed, for the first time in over a week), green frog 2 (Waterthrush Pond), diamondback terrapin 3 (continues to be a poor year for them), firefly 1, cicadas “calling” a lot, plus these butterflies; 1 each of red admiral, pearlcrescent, and question mark, red-spotted purple 4, and monarch 2 (continues to be a poor year for butterflies).

AUGUST 18, SATURDAY. Jim Tyler puts us onto Jessie Harrison, who comes with a bushog. For a couple of hours I ride on top of it while he skillfully brush cuts 12 areas along the hedgerows, drive, and trail edges. The object is to diversify habitat a little, but mostly to enable better lines of sight out across the fields and over the distant woodlands.

80-87 (84 at 8:45 P.M.), SW5+, fair becoming mostly overcast, a few light, very short sprinkles in the late afternoon. New here for this visit: a female belted kingfisher and a high, southbound Caspian tern off to the east some. snowy egret 10, 9 in a flock at dusk headed to Poplar Island presumably. bald eagle 3, Forster’s tern 2, European starling 40. butterflies: red-spotted purple 6, monarch 3, hackberry emperor 2. diamondback terrapin 1. 8 ospreys in sight simultaneously, the not-very-impressive high this time.

AUGUST 19, SUNDAY. A snowshoes variant gray squirrel at the feeder, upside down, with gleaming white paws and partially white legs. Sit out on the dock briefly nursing our coffee before leaving for points east c. 10:15 A.M.: royal tern 2, bald eagle 2, Forster’s tern 2, eastern bluebird 3, chimney swift 2, great blue heron 2, green heron 1, chipping sparrow 2. 77, NW10-15, overcast or mostly overcast, lower humidity.

LEWES, DE - CAPE MAY, NJ FERRY. Complete list but mostly undifferentiated as to in which state birds are seen. NW25, overcast, 76 degrees F., 1:45-3. Difficult to use binoculars because of the strong winds.

PARASITIC JAEGER 1 dark phase (at the distance we saw it looks jet black; this is towards the earliest part of their normal period of occurrence in the region; I learn on Aug. 21 that someone saw a PAJA from the Ferry on Aug. 15; what I thought had been my exclusive sighting was seen, apparently, by someone else earlier; so much the better; tant mieux),

Wilson’s storm-petrel 1, black tern 2, surf scoter 2 (DE), unIDd scoter 3 (DE), royal tern 8, common tern 45, Forster’s tern 20, rock pigeon 30, double-crested cormorant 175, Canada goose 32, great black-backed gull 150 (most roosting on the tip of Cape Henlopen), ring-billed gull 3, herring gull 55, laughing gull 300, black vulture 1, turkey vulture 1, osprey 7, house sparrow 8, ruddy turnstone 2, European starling 40, brown pelican 6 (Cape Henlopen), barn swallow 4, mourning dove 2, unIDd sandpiper 1, and northern mockingbird 1 plus a minimum of 17 dolphins in 6 pods (most close to Cape Henlopen).

We do not go close to the 6 or so small, square rock piles, off the port side, in DE, where we saw most of the 44 pelicans July 13.

AUGUST 20, MONDAY. Here’s the combined Aug. 19-20 Margate, NJ, list with only the high counts mentioned. Strong northerly winds the entire time, 15-20+, overcast, mid-70s. The shorebirds find many small inverts to eat in the wet sand right at or near the surf line. 19 species from daughter, Mary’s, 4th floor condo; view is nothing but beach, sky, buildings, and sea, not a tree in sight:

sanderling 170 (includes 2 flocks of c. 30 each offshore in southbound migration), Caspian tern 1, royal tern 2, common tern 12, semipalmated sandpiper 2, semipalmated plover 3, mourning dove 1, European starling 1, house sparrow 13, osprey 7, northern mockingbird 1, barn swallow 9, fish crow 2, double-crested cormorant 1, great black-backed gull 12 (all but 2 adults), herring gull 10, laughing gull 30, ring-billed gull 4, black skimmer 1 adult (skimming just a foot or 2 off of the sand in the very shallow surf).

Checked a few of the sanderlings but none had been banded. Margate is within sight of Atlantic City, that is to the north. 7 fighter jets, The Thunderbirds, performed impressive maneuvers, really loud and low, practicing for the A.C. air show scheduled for Wed., Aug. 22. Mary’s place is just a block south of the huge, celebrated, historic, Margate elephant, Lucy.

ON THE ROAD. Seen in Talbot County a truck from Carrion Electric. The front of newer car models feature what is called “aggressive grills” that put one in mind of Zeuglodons or Velociraptors. The newer grill headlights, segmented, look to me like the compound eyes of gigantic, malevolent invertebrates. Just plain nasty. “Look on my works ye mighty and despair.”

Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia.

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