Date: 12/31/19 6:26 am
From: 'Fred Shaffer' via Maryland & DC Birding <mdbirding...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Iceland Gull and sign-off from Schoolhouse Pond
Highlights from my morning walk at Schoolhouse Pond today (Dec. 31st) included a flyover 1st-winter Iceland Gull and my personal high count at the pond of 248 Ring-necked Ducks.  The Iceland Gull was with a small group of Herring Gulls that were headed towards the Brown Station Road Landfill.  The waterfowl continue to show up in impressive numbers at the pond this fall/winter, with the continuing male Redhead present, 13 Northern Shovelers, a female Northern Pintail, 2 American Wigeon, several Ruddy Ducks and a male Lesser Scaup present.  
And after 32 years, today is my last day working for M-NCPPC, meaning the end of my daily walks around Schoolhouse Pond. I've gotten a lot of enjoyment walking around the pond and seeing the diversity of birds over the years.  In general, I walked once around the pond from 1987 to 1998 (at lunch) and twice around the pond from 1998 to the present (before work and at lunch).  Prior to 1989 you couldn't go all the way around the pond, but had to turn around at the rear observation platform.  Highlights over the years included a White Pelican (November 2000), Glaucous Gulls (on three occasions), White Ibis (September 2017), Eurasian Wigeon (early 90s), the long-staying Trumpeter Swan (2006 - 09) and the recent Ash-throated Flycatcher (November 2019).  Other particularly memorable sightings include the Black-headed Gull that was present on the ice of the pond during one of the February 2010 blizzards, the American Avocet (Oct. 2004), Greater White-fronted Goose (Dec. 2005 and March 2010), Ross's Goose (Dec. 2006), and the Franklin's Gull (November 2009).  I should probably also mention December 26, 2004, which was perhaps the most remarkable gull day at the pond that I ever experienced.  4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were present, along with one possible LBBG x HERG hybrid. But the highlight was definitely the adult Glaucous Gull and adult Iceland Gull (kumlien's) that were present that afternoon, which is virtually unheard of in Maryland.  I documented the many rare gulls seen at the pond that month in an old Maryland Birdlife article. I didn't even see the rarest of the gulls (the Mew Gull found by Sherman Suter on December 24th).  Non-bird highlights included the pair of River Otters that were regularly seen during the fall of 2013 and seeing the pond daily under different conditions and different seasons.  Walks just after or during snowstorms were particularly enjoyable.
My Schoolhouse Pond life list is now 229. The only bird not included on eBird is the Eurasian Wigeon, as I don't have an exact date for that early 90s sighting. While I'll miss my daily walks at the pond, I will probably still bird here periodically as I don't live that far away.  Since today's bird list was pretty extensive and will be my last regular post from the location, I've copied my eBird checklist below.  Good birding!
Fred <ShafferGlaucousGull...>, Anne Arundel
----- Forwarded Message ----- From: "<ebird-checklist...>" <ebird-checklist...>To: "<glaucousgull...>" <glaucousgull...>Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2019, 08:19:10 AM ESTSubject: eBird Report - Schoolhouse Pond, Upper Marlboro, Dec 31, 2019
Schoolhouse Pond, Upper Marlboro, Prince George's, Maryland, US
Dec 31, 2019 7:19 AM - 8:03 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.8 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:    Overcast and cool.
45 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  420
Northern Shoveler  13
American Wigeon  2
Mallard  29
Mallard x American Black Duck (hybrid)  1
Northern Pintail  1    Female.
Redhead  1
Ring-necked Duck  248    Personal high count for the pond.
Lesser Scaup  1
Ruddy Duck  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  5
Ring-billed Gull  43
Herring Gull  9
Iceland Gull  1    1st winter flyover heading to the Brown Station Road Landfill with a group of Herring Gulls. Pale off-white plumage noted, as were the all pale extended primaries.  Bird appeared slightly smaller (in wingspan and overall size) than the Herring Gulls it was with.
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Black Vulture  21
Bald Eagle  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  4
Fish Crow  1
Carolina Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Winter Wren  1
Carolina Wren  4
European Starling  12
Eastern Bluebird  2
American Robin  12
House Sparrow  2
House Finch  3
American Goldfinch  1
Dark-eyed Junco  1
White-throated Sparrow  7
Song Sparrow  3
Swamp Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  1
Red-winged Blackbird  11
Common Grackle  404
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
Northern Cardinal  3

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

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