Date: 9/7/18 11:33 am
From: Harry Armistead via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [VA-bird] lower Eastern Shore: Maryland Aug. 30-31; Virginia Sept. 1-4, 2018.
LOWER EASTERN SHORE: Maryland AUGUST 30-31; Virginia SEPTEMBER 1-4, 2018. Labor Day Weekend (sensu lato).


ABBREVIATION: ESVNWR Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. I wish they’d just stuck with the original name: Cape Charles N.W.R.


AUGUST 30, THURSDAY. RIGBY’S FOLLY, arrive c. 4 P.M. fair, cloud cover slowly overspreading, NW 5-10, 88-83 (7:49 P.M.), 81 (9 P.M.), very dry, no rain in gauge since August 19, the 2 smaller ponds dry. LITTLE BLUE HERON, an immature I slowly approach to within 36’, the first time I’ve ever seen one on the dock. A female cardinal drinks from the birdbath within minutes of it being filled. 57 robins going to roost over at Anderby Hall Road. bald eagle 3 (an adult pitches in to perch in Woods 1). green heron 3. royal tern 1. osprey 4. unIDd tanager 1. hummingbird 1.


NON-AVIAN TAXA: question mark 7 (highest ever total), red-spotted purple 4, red admiral 1, diamondback terrapin 5, 1 bat, 1 gray squirrel, monarch 0. lawn was cut Aug. 28. A fawn variously in fields 1 & 2.


AUGUST 31, FRIDAY. walk Irish Creek & Lucy Point trails 7-8 A.M. remove sizeable fallen loblolly pine from L.P.T. 4 turtle species: box, snapping (lumbering across the middle of Field 2), 4 painted turtles (Frog Hollow), diamondback terrapin 2. spotted sandpiper 1. Eleven workboats out on Choptank River. Forster’s tern 2. calm, 77, fair, humid. 18 killdeer in Field 4. chimney swift 4. gray squirrel 4 on trails and driveway (i.e., none of them yard poohs). light rain last night. In the cove 31 surface-active schools of minnows, mostly up to the head of the cove. Leave by 9.


EGYPT ROAD: blue grosbeak 3, American kestrel 1.


BLACKWATER N.W.R., 10:45-1 P.M., 79-86, mostly overcast, SW5-10+, tidal waters somewhat low, fresh waters high. Big patches of tickseed sunflowers, pretty.


bald eagle 21, Forster’s tern 94, red-headed woodpecker 1, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN 1, lesser yellowlegs 18, fish crow 5, double-crested cormorant 30 (Sewards), semipalmated sandpiper 13, semipalmated plover 1, least sandpiper 2, Canada goose 7, eastern bluebird 3, bobolink 35, great egret 9, great blue heron 2, Caspian tern 32 (a lot for here), wood duck 2, eastern kingbird 1, fish crow 5, American kestrel 1, grasshopper sparrow 1, and red-winged blackbird 70.


NON-AVIAN TAXA: fox squirrel 1, monarch 3, diamondback terrapin 1, painted turtle 15, snapping turtle 1, black swallowtail 1. Not as dry here as at Rigby’s Folly. Pool 1 is a mass of weedy vegetation, soggy (not intended as criticism).


DEAL ISLAND W.M.A., Dumpster & Riley Roberts Road only, 2:15-4:15 P.M., 87-90, fair, SW10+, high tide and rising. Lots of pesky stable flies. NON-AVIAN items: monarch 2, least skipper 1, tiger swallowtail 1, common wood nymph 1, unIDd sulphur 1. Most all of the shorebirds, as usual, out at the S end of Riley Roberts Road on the W side in the high tidal pool there, apparently a high tide roosting area.


birds: ducks 0, great egret 47, tricolored heron 11, snowy egret 4, great blue heron 1, little blue heron 2 immatures (many of the herons would not have been detected were it not for an adult bald eagle that put them up), osprey 1, bald eagle 3 adults, Canada goose 10 (1 a cripple), greater yellowlegs 34, semipalmated plover 1, short-billed dowitcher 18, least sandpiper 1, semipalmated sandpiper 5, clapper rail 1 (swimming across a tidal gut), northern flicker 1, blue-gray gnatcatcher 1, turkey vulture 17 (always seem to be some over Dames Quarter), Caspian tern 1, royal tern 2, herring gull 2, laughing gull 22, mourning dove 1, red-winged blackbird all of 2, boat-tailed grackle 0, and eastern bluebird 1.


Let me tell you, the big. central impounded area continues to be almost void of birds. Here I once saw more than 100 gallinules in sight simultaneously, investigated 3 pied-billed grebe nests in one day (swimming & wading out to them), would often see broods of gadwall and blue-winged teal, find gallinule nests, see 6 - 7 least bitterns in the 7-mile walk around the dikes, breeding coots present. You get the picture. Usually don’t even see ANY of these in the course of recent visits. Ain’t what it used to be.


Kiptopeke State Park, a fawn late in the day. ESVNWR a buck, 2 fawns, and 3 does at 7:30 P.M. Ramp Lane, ESVNWR, 7:45 P.M., 3 eastern cottontails and 1 black-crowned night heron.


SEPTEMBER 1, SATURDAY. OYSTER, 1 fawn at 6:15 A.M. BULL’S DRIVE, 6:20 P.M. killdeer 8, semipalmated plover 8, 2 does.


RAMP LANE, ESVNWR. 6:30-8 P.M., low tide, calm, 83-81. white ibis 161 (all immatures), great egret 41, brown pelican 115, laughing gull 375 (most are actively feeding aerially across the Federal Cut), great blue heron 8, royal tern 1, double-crested cormorant 36, clapper rail 2, whimbrel 2, snowy egret 4, belted kingfisher 1, Caspian tern 2, Forster’s tern 3, boat-tailed grackle 40 (in addition to the heron types I think BTGRs may roost on Fisherman I., too), red-winged blackbird 32, black skimmer 60, tree swallow 13, bald eagle 1 adult, black-crowned night heron 1, and yellow-crowned night heron 2 plus a monarch. Lots of no-seeums.


SEPTEMBER 2, SUNDAY. WEST’S SEAFOOD (just west, pun intended, of the Citgo station), 9 A.M., after another delicious breakfast at Sting-Ray’s. Don’t know WHAT the attraction is. There IS a borrow pit there: black vulture 46, herring gull 65, laughing gull 620, fish crow 4, turkey vulture 8, little blue heron 1 immature, and glossy ibis 22 plus a monarch. The most recent pair of white waterman’s boots I purchased is from West’s.


OYSTER: 1 eastern cottontail and, finally, my first cloudless sulphur of the year, 5:45 P.M.


RAMP LANE, ESVNWR, 6-8 P.M., SE10, clear, 82 degrees F. Anna Stunkel & I do a watch here. Nice way to end the day. As usual, most of the heron types seem headed to Fisherman Island with a mind to roost.


WHITE IBIS 419 (237 immatures, 182 adults; a nearly exact count; please … cut me a little slack), glossy ibis 11, black skimmer 47, Forster’s tern 75, Cooper’s hawk 1, laughing gull, oh, 300 or so, snowy egret 31, great egret 27, tricolored heron 6, seaside sparrow 3 (1 sang once), double-crested cormorant 26, clapper rail 4 (1 well-seen on the sod bank on the far side of the Federal Cut), osprey 2, bald eagle 2 adults, bobolink 155, greater yellowlegs 2, royal tern 6, boat-tailed grackle 20, whimbrel 1, Caspian tern 2, brown pelican near ‘bout 75, yellow-crowned night heron 2, black-crowned night heron 1, a couple of other night herons, great blue heron 5, and spotted sandpiper 2 plus 4 bats and a bunnie.


SEPTEMBER 3, MONDAY. Labor Day. ARLINGTON ROAD, 1:30-2:15 & 4:45-5 P.M. did not find the Buff-breasted Sandpiper reported by Roberta Kellam and others. Contrary to what I heard it is NOT O.K. to drive down the shell road, north of Sand Hill Road, opposite and a little south of Nottingham Estates. bare earth and leftover potatoes. semipalmated plover 80, black-bellied plover 4 + 35 (the 35 in flight at 4:45 at a distance), American crow 60, laughing gull 45, killdeer 2, osprey 1, least sandpiper c. 10, semipalmated sandpiper c. 45, and blue grosbeak 1 plus a fawn on Sand Hill Road.


MAGOTHA ROAD, 6:20-7:35 P.M. Eurasian collared-dove 6, mourning dove 6, wild turkey 6, Caspian tern 1, Forster’s tern 11, great egret 19, white ibis 8, tricolored heron 2, royal tern 2, eastern kingbird 1, black skimmer 1, black vulture 35, northern mockingbird 5 (out at the east end surrounded by saltmarsh), cormorant 4, brown pelican 18, bald eagle 1 adult, peregrine falcon 1, eastern bluebird 4, snowy egret 1, and 15 deer (1 a fawn), monarch 1. high tide, 83, SE10, clear.


SEPTEMBER 4, TUESDAY. CAPEVILLE: 1 gray squirrel. OYSTER, 8:45, black skimmer 1, great blue heron 2, great egret 1, house sparrow 2, house finch 3, blue grosbeak 1, Forster’s tern 3, and monarch 2. Very low tide. Signs at a vendor on Route 13 indicate “sea shells and BB guns” available for purchase.


NORTHAMPTON COUNTY LANDFILL (Oyster), 9:10-9:45: black vulture 85, turkey vulture 13, black-crowned night heron 40, yellow-crowned night heron 6, Canada goose 40, laughing gull 10, herring gull 1, rock pigeon 15, European starling 25, mourning dove 1, fish crow 3, belted kingfisher 1, tricolored heron 6, great blue heron 1, boat-tailed grackle 0, and American goldfinch 1 plus 2 monarchs. 3 of the YCNHs are adults. Most all of the night herons seen in flight, enabling ID as to species pretty easy (look for the longer legs of YCNH). The relatively low numbers of “black birds” may be due to the landfill being closed over the weekend and holiday (not enough garbaaage = basura).


BOX TREE - MACHIPONGO. 10-10:15. nothing much. low tide. green heron 1 (only 1 I see in VA this trip). This is where whimbrels are counted leaving for their 4-5 day/night nonstop flight to the Arctic after bulking up on fiddler crabs, usually in the period May 23-25, sometimes several thousand being seen in one day. The Center for Conservation Biology, The Nature Conservancy, and others monitor this astounding phenomenon.


WILLIS WHARF, 10:45-11:15. Very low tide. 87, clear, calm. Canada goose 45, willet 2, Forster’s tern 7, tiger swallowtail 1, monarch 2. The always-present group of domestic geese numbers 18 today.


GARGATHA LANDING, 12:15-1:15, 88-90, SE10, medium tide and rising, clear: clapper rail 2 (1 seen close foraging at the marsh edge), gull-billed tern 1 immature, Forster’s tern 3, barn swallow 7, house finch 2, great egret 7, short-billed dowitcher 1, great blue heron 1, semipalmated plover 1, ruby-throated hummingbird 1, eastern bluebird 1, blue grosbeak 5 (in milo field), and white ibis 2 immatures plus a diamondback terrapin and a monarch.


PURDUE plant near Accomac, no Canada geese but c. 125 seen there August 31. TYSON plant at Temperanceville: 165 Canada geese and a spotted sandpiper, 1:25 P.M., 89 degrees F.


KIPTOPEKE STATE PARK, Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory Hawkcount, with Anna Stunkel as counter. See hawkcount dot org for her totals. I am present 10-4 on Sept. 1, 9-3:30 on Sept. 2, and 9-1:30 & 1:45-4:45 on Sept. 3 = 20 back-breaking volunteer hours total. The following is what I see, in most all cases Anna’s official totals are higher.


Sept. 1 a few waxwings, 100s of purple martins, lesser nos. of barn swallows, 10 or so bald eagles, 2 yellow-billed cuckoos, 5 Cooper’s hawks, 2 pileated woodpeckers, 6 glossy ibis. Anna’s totals include 1,041 bobolinks and 16 glue-gray gnatcatchers. Sept. 3 a male summer tanager flies over, a mixed flock of c. 25 ducks, black ducks with several mallards, 1 red-headed woodpecker. Anna spots a big black-and-yellow garden spider set up with web at the top of a large loblolly pine that survives a 0.5 hour deluge.


PELICAN BANDING. AUGUST 24, FRIDAY. John Weske and 5 others traveled to South Point Marsh, Accomack County, Virginia (between Smith I., MD & Tangier I., VA) to band brown pelican chicks, under the direction of John. They tagged 356 pelicans and 5 double-crested cormorant chicks, a considerable achievement considering there were only 2 banders and 4 pelican wranglers.


John considers that, combined with the 347 pelicans banded on July 11, the vast majority of pelican young were tagged. On May 31 analysis of photographs obtained during an aerial survey revealed 4,606 cormorant and 1,753 pelican nests at South Point Marsh. In 1993 there were 53 pelican and 6 cormorant nests.


Combined with 963 banded on Smith I., MD, at the Glen L. Martin N.W.R. and 137 banded on Spring I., Dorchester County, MD, then a grand total of 1,803 young pelicans were tagged in the central Chesapeake Bay this summer. The record for one day is 1,574 banded at Holland I., Dorchester County on a day in 2008. Big thanks to Dave Brinker, Bryan Watts, and John for this information.


LABOR DAY WEEKENDS PAST. Many reasons for returning for L.D.W. every year (except 1 of the past 36 or so). The hope to see big flights, but it’s been several years since that has happened (see below). Back in the day of major landbird banding it was fun to gather in Walter & Doris Smith’s room at the Edgewood for happy hour with snacks and drinks while the US Open played out on the tube, hobnob with Fred Scott and the others.


Notable flights of the past, all listed in the ‘Yellow Book” (except the warblers). 2,618 eastern kingbirds Aug. 30, 1991. 226 Baltimore orioles Aug. 31, 1989. fish crow 1,052 Sep. 8, 1984. cliff swallow 171 Sep. 7, 1987. cattle egret 675 Aug. 31, 1988. warblers in aggregate over 1,000 once on an August 31. barn swallow 9,636 Aug. 30, 2003. purple martin 4,579 Sep. 3, 1992.


My family: we’d always stay in Room 145 (now 137 for some reason) at America House (now Sunset Beach Hotel) for 2 weeks to celebrate the end of summer before school started. In one of the early years I looked out from our Rm. 145 door and saw 90 orioles and 90 kingbirds go by in a few minutes. That was the start of my attraction to the bluff on the edge of the Bay, from c. 6:30 until 8 each morning. As Walter Smith would say in his annual invitation to join the banding scene: “Yeah, Kiptopeke!” Yeah indeed.


LABOR DAY WEEKEND PRESENT, bluff at Sunset Beach Hotel, September 1-3. Meagre results, but here is what I see: 6:30-8 A.M. each day; 77, 75, 75; fair, fair, clear; calm, SW5-10, W5. mourning dove - 4 -; chimney swift - - 1; ruby-throated hummingbird - 1 -; semipalmated plover - - 8; killdeer - 4 2; herring gull X X 120 (attracted to deadrise servicing the pound nets); Caspian tern - 1 -; common tern - 1 2; Forster’s tern 1 7 2; royal tern 9 5 8; double-crested cormorant 190 120 115; brown pelican 60 75 45; great blue heron 1 1 1; white ibis 6 - -; black vulture 8 11 6 (foraging at and in the dumpsters); turkey vulture - 6 1; osprey 2 1 0; bald eagle - 3 1; belted kingfisher - - 1; downy woodpecker - - 1; pileated woodpecker 1 - -; eastern kingbird 15 41 4; European starling 25 x x; warbler unIDd 4 4 7; American goldfinch - 9 -; bobolink 190 45 -; red-winged blackbird - 20 -; Baltimore oriole 2 - 13; dolphin 2 - -; monarch 2 - 1; no swallows or martins! X means observed but not counted. - means zero.


SUNSET BEACH HOTEL. 100s of trailers, camping vehicles, every site is full, hard to even see the grass and all manner of doodads, water-related toys, etc., out on the beach. It is now a city or ghetto. But the trees are still there and on a good flight day the birds will still go over. The watering hole at the beach is now called Jackspot, the J in the shape of a fish hook.


a JAW BUSTER. Page 72, Aug. 20, ‘New Yorker’: Vergangenheitsbewaltigung. Means “coming to terms with the past”. Just had to share this. stick an umlaut over the 2nd a and you’re in business. A friend who speaks German noted that with the spaces of the English meaning, the 25 spaces in German is less than the English (29 spaces). This friend mentions a German word with 7 consecutive consonants: Kampfschnepfe, that means “fighting snipe”. !! Not to disparage German … my Armistead ancestors were German.


CLOUDS. This is a time of spectacular cloud formations, many of them tall, heroic, columnar clouds. The great artist Francis Lee Jaques would have loved them. They form a dramatic component of his paintings, especially of some of his plates in Arthur H. Howell’s Florida Bird Life (Florida Dept. of Game and Fresh Water Fish, 1932, 579p.), in particular his ‘birds of the prairie borders’, ‘white ibises circling over the Everglades’, and ‘birds of the prairies’. A better showcase for his splendid art is: Francis Lee Jaques: artist of the wilderness world (Doubleday, 1973, 370p., comes in a slipcase). Jaques (pronounced jay quees) liked the big stuff. His famous quote: “there’s not much difference between warblers and no warblers”. I beg to differ. He was also nuts about railroads.



This is also a time of countless, blooming Crepe Myrtles, pretty, but useless for wildlife.


Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia.

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