Date: 5/30/19 6:05 pm
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Elliott Island Road May 4 & 11, 2019.
ELLIOTT ISLAND ROAD, May 4 (1st #), May 11 (2nd #), 2019, a segment of the Dorchester County, Maryland, annual spring bird counts. I’m alone both days.


In previous posts for these 2 counts (reporting the results of ALL the observers) there have been details on the weather and areas I covered (that is, adjacent areas in addition to EIR per se). I apologize for getting this out so late.


92 species on May 4, 99 on May 11. May 4,115 mi. by car, 1 on foot. May 11, 115 mi. by car, 1 on foot. May 4, 4:10 A .M. - 7:10 P.M. May 11, 4:20 A.M. - 7:20 P.M.


Nothing especially unusual, but the days worth it just for the scenery and the marvelous, marshy habitats.


Canada goose 22 (1 pair with 5 goslings),32 (incl. a pair with 5 downy goslings). wood duck 3,0. gadwall 2,0 (declining as a local breeder). mallard 14,22. American black duck 12,14. green-winged teal 2,1. ruddy duck 165,29 (there are almost always some lingering ruddies on upper Fishing Bay). wild turkey 1,7. mourning dove 26,24. chuck-will’s-widow 5,3. chimney swift 11,2. ruby-throated hummingbird 3,1.


clapper rail 6,3. Virginia rail 6,14. king rail 1,0. common gallinule 6,6.


black-necked stilt 5,3. black-bellied plover 0,6. semipalmated plover 1,9. killdeer 0,1. dunlin 45,110. least sandpiper 96,50. semipalmated sandpiper 3,40. short-billed dowitcher 9,6. spotted sandpiper 1,0. solitary sandpiper 1,0. lesser yellowlegs 32,12. willet 9,12. greater yellowlegs 32,18.


laughing gull 59,200. ring-billed gull 2,4. least tern 1,4. Forster’s tern 7,0. double-crested cormorant 2,2. least bittern 1,5 (in my experience they call much more readily later on in June, as evidenced by the NABBS breeding bird surveys I used to do, surprising to hear so many [4] and to see another well on May 11). great blue heron 24,30 (a few nest in the EIR hammocks). great egret 1,1. snowy egret 6,2. green heron 0,1.


black vulture 10,11. turkey vulture 50,55. osprey 34,45. northern harrier 4,2. bald eagle 36,38. red-tailed hawk 1,1. eastern screech-owl 5,1.


belted kingfisher 0,1. red-headed woodpecker 0,1. red-bellied woodpecker 1,1. downy woodpecker 0,2. northern flicker 0,1. pileated woodpecker 1,2. great crested flycatcher 21,40. eastern kingbird 5,14. eastern wood-pewee 0,3. Acadian flycatcher 0,1. white-eyed vireo 11,9. red-eyed vireo 12,11.


blue jay 6,7. American crow 25,25. fish crow 4,2. purple martin 13,22 (one farm on Griffith Neck Road has 61 gourds plus 3 large martin houses, public housing for martins). tree swallow 32,65. barn swallow 65,70. Carolina chickadee 2,4. tufted titmouse 12,12. brown-headed nuthatch 2,3. house wren 4,8. marsh wren 20,15. Carolina wren 13,12. blue-gray gnatcatcher 2,0.


eastern bluebird 1,7. wood thrush 0,2. American robin 50,36. gray catbird 11,13. brown thrasher 4,5. northern mockingbird 24,16. European starling 90,75. cedar waxwing 0,1. house sparrow 3,2. house finch 5,7 (in Vienna). American goldfinch 0,0 )!!).


eastern towhee 7,2. chipping sparrow 17,22. Savannah sparrow (Elliott Island Road road shoulders) 3,4. grasshopper sparrow 2,0. seaside sparrow 32,26. saltmarsh sparrow (in precipitous decline) 0,2. song sparrow 3,3. swamp sparrow 8,6 (local breeders).


eastern meadowlark 0,1. orchard oriole 13,16. red-winged blackbird 300,300. brown-headed cowbird 11,40. common grackle 200,125. boat-tailed grackle 16,10.


yellow-breasted chat 0,3. ovenbird 10,7. worm-eating warbler 1,1. northern waterthrush 0,1. prothonotary warbler 1,1. common yellowthroat (and I mean common) 58,55. yellow warbler 1,0. pine warbler 11,6. yellow-throated warbler 0,1. summer tanager 10,11. northern cardinal 22,28. blue grosbeak 16,12. indigo bunting 3,3.


MY M.O. these 2 days, is to take my sweet time. Much of it I spend cruising at 4-5 m.p.h., all windows down, sun roof open. It is a quiet car and I believe I can hear almost as much this way as when I get out of the car with the motor off.


One of the most enjoyable times these 2 days is just sitting for an extended period mid-afternoon in the tattered old folding Coleman chair (a gift years ago from Hal & Lynn) on the edge of Transquaking River, scanning for eagles and harriers. But mostly just enjoying the scene: the river, the marshes, the cloud formations, the pure stands of loblolly pines. Anna took pity and gave me a nice new red Coleman chair that I used for the whimbrel watch.


For the first time in decades I have no audiolures (tapes or iPod). Consequently I am pleased to hear (and see) as many rails and other marshbirds as I do. I have good looks at 2 Virginia rails, a clapper rail, and a least bittern and hear totals of 6 common gallinules both times. Successfully call up all the screech owls and see one.


Nice to see the blooming blue flags (irises) along the edges of the road in ditches or otherwise. Most blooming plants are early this spring hereabouts.


NON-AVIAN TAXA: white-tailed deer 10,2. eastern cottontail 0,2. Cope’s gray tree frog 3,1. diamond-backed terrapin 1,2. Virginia opossum 2,0. sika deer 7,11. green frog 6,10. bullfrog 4,2. Fowler’s toad 4,0. southern leopard frog 7,3. gray squirrel 12 (a lot for here; 6 in Vienna),6. fox squirrel 2,0. black swallowtail 1,0. tiger swallowtail 2,2. painted turtle 2,2. cricket frog however many 3 choruses comprise, both days. cabbage white 3,3. rat snake 1 d.o.r.,0. tick 1,0. carp 1,loads of them in the tidal pools (carpe diem). unIDd sulphur 0,4. amber-colored dragonflies (don’t know the species) 60,60 (Kraft Neck Road). box turtle 0,1. mud turtle 0,1. question mark 0,1. red fox 0,1 (+ 2 d.o.r., all kits). snapper turkle 0,1. snakehead 0,1. red-spotted purple 0,7.


WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? Some 40 years ago, at Baltimore, in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn, a man approaches and says he has seen my car at Elliott Island, where he has a 2nd home. Since then, including on May 11 this year, I have seen this fellow at Elliott Island a few times. His name is Bob Burch. He and his wife and their appealing little dachshund can be seen walking at Elliott village pretty frequently.


WHIMBREL WATCH WEEKEND AFTERMATH. My efforts on May 25-26, although that is traditionally JUST the right time of year, may well have been too late in 2019. I’ve gotten wind that 4,600 were seen leaving Box Tree Marsh, Machipongo, Virginia, on May 23.


HAPPY NEW YEAR. I get 7 or 8 unsolicited calendars each year. The first 2020 one arrived May 28 from The Trust for Public Land, a good outfit, but I have never belonged or sent them a contribution.


Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia.

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