Date: 9/24/19 10:40 am
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Ferry Neck & Elliott Island Road, September 18-23, 2019.
FERRY NECK & ELLIOTT ISLAND ROAD, September 18-23, 2019. Not a single falcon seen this entire stretch. Presumed lost, I discover, buried, in the back of the car, my iPod, “missing” for 10 months. In spite of this, it works fine.


SEPTEMBER 18, WEDNESDAY. Arrive 3:50. On the dock 4:30-7:30. cattle egret 25, bald eagle 4, black vulture 12, sharp-shinned hawk 1, broad-winged hawk 2, wood duck 2, red-tailed hawk 1. a great blue heron lands on a neighbor’s dock RIGHT NEXT to a scare owl, and is unimpressed. Also: monarch 8, diamond-backed terrapin 1, FOX SQUIRREL 1 (next to the woods on the east end of Field 5), gray squirrel 1.


It has become VERY dry. This drought is bad. Nothing in the rain gauge since August 30, when it was dry even then. High tide is above normal as it will be for the next few days. winds vary NW-N-NNE-E 5-10. east winds make the tidal water above normal. The milo in our fields is finally developing seed heads. Finally some sea nettles, big ones.


SEPTEMBER 19, THURSDAY. 8 raptor species, incl. bald eagle 8. mallard 12, royal tern 4, American robin 27 (going to roost down Anderby Hall Road), a double-crested cormorant with a 1’ eel (takes a while to position it for swallowing, which it does while the eel is still wriggling vigorously; imagine having THAT in one’s stomach; ugh!).


great egret 17 (the former property high is 12 George and I saw August 22, 1993; I thought swans are approaching, V-formations of 8 & 7, low altitude, 6:30 P.M.), laughing gull 53 (apparently going to roost out on Choptank River at dusk), red-shouldered hawk 1 immature (great looks; much more of a late October-November bird hereabouts), eastern wood-pewee 1 (one of the few migrant passerines seen this entire visit), red-tailed hawk 1, royal tern 4.


high of 51 dragonflies over Field 1 (most all saddlebags). 7 spider webs on the dock are full of no-seeums. good! BUTTERFLIES: buckeye 10 (many migrating now), common checkered skipper (exquisite little butterfly), black swallowtail, cloudless sulphur 3, tiger swallowtail 1, American lady 1, painted lady 1, red admiral 1, monarch 11. FOX SQUIRREL again, on the lawn edge by Field 1, sitting on its haunches looking at me. Only see Fox Squirrel 2-4 times a year here. Unseen here until 1 on May 8, 1998.


3 ospreys go over (the aircraft) and 2 A-10 warthogs plus 3 models of helicopters I don’t know how to name. Spend most of today “ … sittin’ on a dock by the Bay …” 58-73, clear then fair then clear, winds variable, N-NE-ENE-E 5+ m.p.h. Then SW in early P.M.


I SAID variable, O.K.? Got a problem with the weather? That’s YOUR problem. If so take it out on Jim Cantore and Al Roker. Cut loose on AccuWeather, both barrels at once. Look, I’m just a working stiff who can’t tell a lenticular cloud from tunafish. Or a polar vortex. Don’t tell ME I’m solipsistic or stochastic. A few bluets around the dock (a damselfly).


SEPTEMBER 20, FRIDAY. chimney swift 6, tree swallow 9, bald eagle 8 (6 in sight simultaneously; nice), snowy egret 2, royal tern 1, wood duck 9, Canada goose 46, osprey 3. a Carolina wren forages under the canoe. monarch 16, cloudless sulphur 4, gray squirrel 1, painted lady 1, diamond-backed terrapin 12 (1 as late as 7:36 P.M.). mostly just rest up for tomorrow’s ordeal. 62-74, clear, SW10-5 or even less.


SEPTEMBER 21, SATURDAY. It’s up ay 3:56 A.M. phew! ELLIOTT ISLAND ROAD, Dorchester County, MD, a segment of the 24th Dorchester fall bird count, 5:30 A.M. - 8 P.M. (14.5 hours plus 2.25 hours commuting), 89 miles by car, 1 mile on foot. Highlights: strange to say but finding 6 sparrow species is a minor triumph: chipping 1, Savannah 2, saltmarsh 1, seaside 2, song 2, and swamp 1. Otherwise there are rails: clapper 7, king 1, Virginia 31, and common gallinule 3.


14 bald eagles is low. other goodies: blue-winged teal 6, pied-billed grebe 1, Caspian tern 4, tricolored heron 18, northern harrier 5, great horned owl (at 7:55 A.M., in broad daylight, perched on an isolated, dead pine snag), brown-headed nuthatch 3, marsh wren 5, and boat-tailed grackle 6 males.


72 hard-earned species. Virtually NO passerine migration. No grosbeak, bunting, tanager, oriole, goldfinch, meadowlark, common grackle, green-winged teal, chimney swift, house sparrow, rock pigeon, flicker, thrush, or vireo. All of 2 shorebird and 2 warbler species. A disaster.


The good news as that the paving is much improved. Low areas that become submerged are all raised several inches except for a 50’ stretch north of the hunting lodge next to Island Creek. The shoulders all nicely mowed to a width of 4-7’. The dirt road in through Langrell’s Island has been nicely graded. See a dust devil in a field off the northerly road portion.


Coverage is good with observers in 8 other areas. 7 already received and they agree there is hardly any flight today. I’ll not get the summary out until the 3rd week of October.


NON-AVIAN TAXA: butterflies - common wood nymph 2, variegated fritillary 1, orange sulphur 1, cloudless sulphur 28 (a great summer for them), monarch 12, buckeye 13. scissor-grinder cicada - (I think that’s what they’re called) 21. turtles - painted turtle 2, diamond-backed terrapin 2 (1 of these foul-hooked by an angler at McCready’s Creek on the front left leg, pulled in, and released), mud turtle 1. mammals - sika deer 5, white-tailed deer 1, gray squirrel (in Vienna with a big nut), red fox 1 (right on the shoulder; I pull up next to it at a distance of 6 feet and loudly inquire “How’s it hangin’, babe” and it just looks at me, as well it might. Lovely tickseed sunflower batches in the ditches on the north part of the road.


Nice for the last hour of daylight to just sit in the folding chair at Gadwall Bend and wait for the herons to fly back to their Smith Island haunts. That’s where there are the 18 tricolored herons plus the lion’s share of the egrets. Some of the Salicornia has already turned to its fall deep purplish-red coloration.


I work the entire road plus Lewis Wharf Road, all of Vienna, and Chapel of Ease.


Back at Rigby’s Folly Liz lists 16 species, just in the yard, for the fall Talbot County count, incl. 2 bald eagles, 60 laughing gulls (aerialists hunting dragonflies) and 42 Canada geese.


SEPTEMBER 22, SUNDAY. Rest, nap, sit, doze, and recover from yesterday. At the birdbath (overturned lid of an aluminum barrel); black-and-white warbler, Carolina wren, mockingbird, and titmouse. Monarch 11, red admiral 1, diamond-backed terrapin 3, buckeye 4. 2 Forster’s terns are the first ones this visit. 70s - 82, SW5 becoming SW5 at dusk, fair. great egret 5. sharp-shinned hawk 1.


On the dock 5:35-7:20 P.M. The prospect up to the right (east) at the head of Poplar Cove with its dense, tall stand of loblolly pines is a beauty, bathed in the failing sunlight. At the age of c. 10 I asked my parents if we could just let the pine saplings there go and grow. Now they’re nature trees. As Georgia poet Sidney Lanier wrote “The wall of woods stands high”. An adult bald eagle snags an 8” fish at 5:58, takes off through the pines looking for a secluded place to eat it. Take that Ben Franklin. Don’t always have to kleptoparasitize an osprey.


At the same time there is a snowy egret, great egret, and great blue heron stalking small fishes up there. Canada goose 77, probably not real Canada geese. A c. 6” fish chases minnows, which “spray” out of the water to avoid capture. 19 cattle egrets at 7:01. Strangest of all, a distant common loon in high, steady, northward flight at 7:04. Early in the fall for a loon. At last light a great blue and great egret go to roost in Woods 8.


SEPTEMBER 23, MONDAY. A common wood nymph by the front porch. monarch 2. gray squirrel 2 plus another d.o.r. on Ferry Neck Road. Leave by 9:30.


Best to all. - Harry Armistead.

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