Date: 8/26/20 2:11 pm
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Dorchester's south islands, August 23, 2020.
AUGUST 23, SUNDAY. DORCHESTER COUNTY’s SOUTH ISLANDS. John Weske treats me to the grand tour, the Great Circle Route, of these islands, counterclockwise from Crocheron, Bloodsworth Island-Fin Creek, the east side of Bloodsworth, Spring, Holland, Adam, Northeast, and Pone islands, the west and north sides of Bloodsworth, and on back to Crocheron.


The messy, deteriorating launch site at Crocheron is 60 miles, one way, from Rigby’s Folly. To its credit it DOES have a Dumpster and a johnny-on-the-spot. Off the west side of Bloodsworth we go far offshore avoiding 4 submerged Sherman tanks, one of which I slammed into once. NOT good for the outboard’s lower unit. Bent the skeg on mine.


John is a careful, deliberate skipper and a good conversationalist. His boat is powered by a big 115 HP outboard. My starvation rations today: cheese curls, PB&J on marbled rye, peach slices, and several bottles of Propel (electrolytes city). Lists below, such as they are, are complete..


Winds SW 10-15-5-10. Temps high 70s to low and mid 80s. Sunny with some clouds. low tide at start to mostly high at the end. In early afternoon when it is hot and with little wind it feels good to pour a bottle of cold water over my head. Aahhh!!


This is my first successful trip to the islands in several years, after 3 unsatisfactory, to say the least, experiences, following one of which I spent 4.25 hrs. in the ER dealing with a dehydration issue or two and, for the 1st time I can recall, an irregular pulse. Today went gratifyingly well. It was SO GOOD to be back to these islands that I visited 50 straight years beginning in 1967.


These islands are much diminished in terms, especially, of heron types, ducks, and trees. They are eroding away fast.


CROCHERON: royal tern 22 (they LIKE this little harbor), spotted sandpiper 1, bald eagle 1 adult & 1 immature, Forster’s tern 3, osprey 7, Canada goose 30, and cormorant 7.


FIN CREEK, BLOODSWORTH I. 10:30-11. The creek penetrates from north to south 1.25 miles and is plenty deep enough for our boat, even at low tide. The dozens of great blue heron nesting platforms, built by the Navy, are in disarray and something of a shambles. But one has a big bald eagle nest. Looks like only 3 great blue heron nests, compared to 180 back in the 1970s:


bald eagle 2 adults, osprey 7 (with a big nest on the faux tank), seaside sparrow 8, cormorant 4, barn swallow 6 (migrating), American black duck 1, herring gull 3, laughing gull 4, eastern kingbird 1, gray catbird 1 (the latter 2 species probably breeding birds), great egret 3, and diamond-backed terrapin 3.


BLOODSWORTH ISLAND - EAST SIDE: great blue heron 1, barn swallow 1, tricolored heron 3, great egret 4, northern harrier 1, herring gull 16, snowy egret 1, seaside sparrow 1, brown pelican 1, cormorant 6, Caspian tern 1, osprey 5, and bald eagle 1 adult. The 2 small eastern redcedar hammocks, that used to have a few great blue heron nests, have washed away. 11:15-12:25.


SPRING ISLAND. 12:30. The brown pelican colony is on the south end. In some previous years, when they bred here at all, it was on the north end. A few large young birds seen from our vantage point about 100 yards offshore. cormorant 25, brown pelican 235 (flight-capable birds, in slight simultaneously), great egret 1, seaside sparrow 1, laughing gull 4, barn swallow 1, herring gull 25, great black-backed gull 1 large youngster


Mostly hauled out, on the east side of the larger, south, segment of Spring are 90 diamond-backed terrapin. nice! We circumnavigate Spring.


HOLLAND ISLAND. c. 1 P.M. There is a big bald eagle nest in one of the few trees remaining on the south end. great egret 3, brown pelican 60, cormorant 30, boat-tailed grackle 2 males, osprey 3, herring gull 10, laughing gull 4. Only a few trees remain on the north end.


About half a mile of the former north end, including a nice grove of American hackberries and 2 graveyards, is now under the waves. Hard to believe a town of 300 some souls lived here until the early part of the 20th century, with a school, store, church, and much else, including a large fleet of traditional wooden workboats. sic transit gloria mundi.


Pickin’ her clean. Two fellows landed from the ‘Fishin’ Pole’ are working the extensive exposed, bare, sod bank with metal detectors. Farther north a woman is prospecting the beach for, I’d guess, sea glass. I am not blameless with a small collection of old glass bottles, a few arrowheads, an axehead. etc., gathered here some years ago, One of the best times to look around for such things is on the west side in the early spring after the winter’s northwesters have exposed, eroded, parts of the island. At that time of year I once saw a harbor seal hauled out on Holland, a most appealing mammal.


ADAM ISLAND. 1:10-2. another island eroded to smithereens. but the ranking spectacle today. Some extensive sandbars are new with a few thousand birds resting on them. Here we make our only landing today, a brief one.


brown pelican 730 (but I don’t think they’re nesting here; one has a bad left wing), cormorant 1,000 or so (as cormorants tend to do, once flushed many or most are gone, so I fail to get a careful estimate before many skedaddle), herring gull 610, great black-backed gull 30, osprey 6, Forster’s tern 1, duck 1 unIDd (either a mallard, a blackie, or a gadwall), American oystercatcher, great blue heron 1.


On the remains of the old Navy tower, torn down years ago, are 15 cormorant nests. Looks like many of the gulls do nest here.


NORTHEAST ISLAND (from a distance; I’ve never landed here): 120 herring gull, 60 cormorants. Nice sandbar here.


PONE ISLAND (a satellite of Bloodsworth); Also has a good sandbar. 80 herring gulls.


BLOODSWORTH ISLAND, west and north ends. Worth checking out but as usual is not to be due to the military detritus. Besides, our trip is essentially over and we steam back to Crocheron at 25-30 m.p.h.


GRAND TOTALS FOR TODAY. c. 1,026 brown pelicans. c. 864 herring gulls. c. 1,102 double-crested cormorants. bald eagle 5. George and I saw the 1st county brown pelicans on July 4, 1996, 4 immatures flying past Pone Island. Just look at all those the pelicans now!! Carumba.


GO FIGURE. Not a single red-winged blackbird all day. In late summer many blackbirds pull a disappearing act, as do, on these islands at least, great blue herons. In the past week I’ve seen one common grackle.


Best to all. Harry Armistead, Bellevue, MD, and Philadelphia, PA.

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