Date: 8/28/20 1:55 pm
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] lower Eastern Shore, August 5-9, 16-20, 2020.
LOWER EASTERN SHORE, AUGUST 5-9, 16-20, 2020.


A time of blooming rose-of-Sharon bushes, crepe myrtles, partridge pea, and marsh hibiscus, and of goldenrod and milkweed building in. Also, on many days, this is a time of heroic cloud formations that would be the envy of Albert Bierstadt or Francis Lee Jacques. A time of developing toadstools, mushrooms, and their ilk. A time of this and that and the other thing, mostly that but with this closing fast and the other thing hopelessly in arrears.


AUGUST 5, WEDNESDAY. A day of peace, sun, drying out, and light or no winds after the hurly burly of Isaias. Out on the dock 6:30-8:15 P.M. with aerial foraging, the 1st I’ve noticed this summer, of 31 laughing gulls. 17 cattle egrets c. 8:10 P.M. on their way to Poplar Island. Light rain last night didn’t even register in the rain gauge. 1 great and 1 snowy egret, 1 great blue and 2 green herons. 8 terrapin. 2 gray squirrels along the driveway. We spent most of the morning policing up the countless fallen branches and sticks on the lawn, mostly from the big willow oak.


AUGUST 6, THURSDAY. Fair, mostly sunny then becoming overcast with light east winds late in the day, high in the low 80s. 7 semipalmated plovers come out of the North and keep going at 6:18 P.M. Delightful to see these charming little shorebirds with their cheerful chew-wi call note. Come all the way from, perhaps, Baffin Island.


1 Cope’s gray tree frog calling near the dock. 2 bald eagles. First monarch of the fall. Yellow-billed cuckoo 1. A lot of lightning but not much thunder last night producing 0.475” of, you guessed it, rain. Mowers here from 8:17 - 8:48, cut the lawn and driveway. 3 spotted turtles in the Woods 4 vernal pool. 18 mourning doves in Field 1 plus 3 fawns, 4 does, and 1 buck.


Oak Creek area. My 2nd attempt to find the whooper swan = my usual back luck with stakeouts. Instead find 3 snow egrets, a great blue heron, and 4 gray squirrels.


AUGUST 7, FRIDAY. glossy ibis 1, bald eagle 1 adult perches in a loblolly at the head of the cove. fox squirrel 1. muskrat 1. spotted turtle 1. At Oak Creek 6 snowy egrets & the swan must have left. Forgot to record the weather.


AUGUST 8, SATURDAY. 3 snowy egrets. As I head out for Dorchester County a great horned owl flushes from trees at the driveway bend at 6:18 A.M. 0.4” in the rain gauge from last night.


RIGHT ON the front brick steps a fat 2 foot plus EASTERN HOG-NOSED SNAKE, with highly-colored markings is in the act, in flagrante delicto as it were, of beginning the process of swallowing a grown Fowler’s toad, my favorite batrachian. 2nd property record. As I begin to go up the steps (don’t mind me, I just live here) it bolts away and disappears into the labyrinthine fastnesses of the 70-year-old boxwood rows. I’m not trying to catch it. The only other record is of one also in the act of swallowing a toad.


The one today looks JUST like the photograph in the Maryland amphibian and reptile atlas by Heather R. Cunningham (Johns Hopkins, 2018) on page 202. The atlas only shows this species occurring in Talbot County on its far eastern edge.


EGYPT ROAD. 27 species, 9-10:30, mostly overcast or fair, 75-80, winds light & variable. singing birds: field sparrow 5, common yellowthroat 4, indigo bunting 8, white-eyed vireo 1, Carolina wren 6, chipping sparrow 7, and blue grosbeak 1, but no northern bobwhite, prothonotary warbler, prairie warbler, or yellow-breasted chat. Also, wild turkey 1, great blue heron 1, osprey 1, rock pigeon 7, house sparrow 3, barn swallow 30, purple martin 5, and ruby-throated hummingbird 2. green frog 3, painted turtle 1, black swallowtail 1.


BLACKWATER N.W.R., 10:30 - 2:45, high 70s to low 80s, mostly overcast, winds light and variable, tidal and fresh water high. 40 species, incl.:


double-crested cormorant 17, Forster’s tern 18, bald eagle 11, osprey 12, great egret 3, great blue heron 3, green heron 3, mallard 4, Canada goose 10, king rail 1, greater yellowlegs 6, lesser yellowlegs 30, semipalmated sandpiper 14, red-headed woodpecker 2, blue jay 1, tufted titmouse 2, brown-headed nuthatch 3, eastern bluebird 2, Carolina wren 6, common yellowthroat 1, red-eyed vireo 1, blue grosbeak 3, indigo bunting 5, northern cardinal 0, eastern kingbird 1, and eastern meadowlark 1.


non-avian taxa: cloudless sulphur 8, monarch 9, unIDd sulphur 30, red-bellied cooter 3, painted turtle 7, black swallowtail 3, cabbage white 11, deer 1. Lots of visitation: at Sewards causeway 17 cars (mostly anglers)., also 17 cars at the Route 335 bridge (mostly kayakers).


AUGUST 9, SUNDAY. On the way back to Philadelphia we check, for the 4th time, at Oak Creek but still fail to see the whooper swan.


AUGUST 16, SUNDAY. ROUTE 495 east of Wilmington, DE, an imm. bald eagle along Delaware River, dangerously close to a network of wires. JOHN BROWN ROAD turf farm: killdeer 30, least sandpiper 9, laughing gull 175, greater yellowlegs 1, barn, tree and bank swallows in aggregate 25 foraging just inches above the grass.


RIGBY’S FOLLY, arrive 3 P.M., low 70s, overcast, 0.5” in rain gauge since Aug. 9 then occasional light rain, clearing at end, with a partial rainbow to the northeast. NW 15-10. One of those days when in a few brief hours after arriving a rather productive result happens. 28 species.


For the 1st time ever see 7 species of heron types: best is an imm. little blue heron, 23 cattle egrets, 3 green herons, 2 great blue herons,1 great egret, 5 snowy egrets, 1 glossy ibis.


Also: bald eagle 2, Forster’s tern 6, royal tern 1, yellow-billed cuckoo 1, and brown thrasher 1. A female American kestrel flushes off the pole in Field 4, an early migrant. When Liz calls that supper’s ready I come in off the dock and a great horned owl flushes right in the yard.


In Field 1, which is gamey today, 5 mourning doves, 29 Canada geese and 7 deer (2 spotted fawns, a 6-point buck, and 4 does). In Field 4 a doe and a spotted fawn. The abundant standing water and humidity stimulates 5 Cope’s gray tree frogs to call. 1 gray squirrel. 1 monarch, 1 diamond-backed terrapin.


Rob Berg has finished the railing along the east side of the dock, a good job. Mary, David & Lucas arrive.


AUGUST 17, MONDAY. 70s (!), fair, a drizzle for 15 minutes 6:45 P.M., NW-SW-NW, 15-10, at 8:30 P.M. thunder, lightning, and some winds with 0.3” of (unneeded) rain. high tide > normal in mid-afternoon.


33 Canada geese in Field 1 with 2 does and a 6-pt. buck. red-tailed hawk 1 adult, bald eagle 2, snowy egret 3, Forster’s tern 3, European starling 130. a pileated woodpecker.


David catches a white perch that we eat for dinner. eastern cottontail 2, gray squirrel 2 (appear before I finish putting out the feed, for the 1st time in over a month), red fox 1, Cope’s gray tree frog 2, diamond-backed terrapin 3, cloudless sulphur 2, red-spotted purple 1, spotted turtle 1. An 8-pt. buck in Field 4. John Weske comes to retrieve his boat the ‘Lou-na-sea’. No fireflies.


During the course of tropical storm Isaias half the sticks on our osprey nest blew off. There is now a growth of grasses in the nest, some 3’ high, looks like phragmites. All of a sudden there are huge numbers of sea nettles, mostly small ones. I clear the dock ladder, loaded with Ruppia maritima, and raise it out of the water, where it has been for several weeks.


AUGUST 18, known to many as, simply, TUESDAY. A gem. Clear, NW10 becoming SW then calm, 72-83, humidity just fine. 54 Canada geese now in Field 1, helping themselves to young soy bean shoots, and,, perhaps not as amazing as, say, 6,300 dunlin in massed, coordinated flight approaching a high tide roost on Ship Shoal Island, the flock of juvenile European starlings in that same field is now up to c. 300, a minor spectacle as they wheel back and forth in amazing, synchronized flight. But … where are their moms and dads?? Das ist die Frage. 36 species, incl.:


little blue heron 1 imm., green heron 3, great egret 2, cattle egret 23, snowy egret 3, turkey vulture 16, black vulture 9, Cooper’s hawk 1, bald eagle 4, laughing gull 62 (going to roost at dusk), Forster’s tern 5, royal tern 1, American robin 8, European starling 300 juveniles, eastern kingbird 1, ruby=throated hummingbird 1, blue-gray gnatcatcher 3 (migrants), cedar waxwing 4, American goldfinch 1, blue grosbeak 1, chimney swift 6.


critters and varmints: deer here and there, mostly here: 6 does, 2 spotted fawns, 1 6-pt. buck, 1 8-pt. buck, the latter with points/tines 8” long, a noble creature, a potential “wall hanger” for somebody sometime. 1 Cope’s gray tree frog. 18 diamond-backed terrapin. 4 monarchs. 2 eastern cottontails 2 cloudless sulphurs.


AUGUST 19, WEDNESDAY. 0.3” rain in the morning, overcast then becoming nice and sunny and fair. 69-78. winds NNW 10-15 then dropping. Liz spots the 1st belted kingfisher of the season. In the Field 4 wetspot are a greater and a lesser yellowlegs foraging. 1 monarch.


In sight simultaneously from the dock: 2 snowy and 1 great egret, the little blue heron, a green heron, and a great blue heron. After all these rains and the high humidity the numbers of mushrooms and toadstools have grown exponentially. Some of the toadstools are gleaming white and about the size of dinner plates. The marsh hibiscus next to the driveway finally has 2 blossoms, but they will not last long.


John Weske leaves his boat off. VIRGINIA: On July 18 he and 2 friends band at South Point Marsh north of Tangier I. tagging 127 brown pelicans chicks, 4 yellow-crowned night herons, 4 American oystercatchers, a semipalmated plover, 3 cormorants, 2 laughing gulls, a few herring and great black-backed gulls and ospreys. A remarkable achievement. John is 84 and still does these things.


AUGUST 20, THURSDAY. (named for Thor, the god of war). 1 monarch. Another fine, sunny day with light winds and temperatures mostly in the 70s, though it did get up to 82. blue-gray gnatcatcher 1. The immature little blue heron is seen every day now. An adult bald eagle pitches in and lands at dusk in a pine on the east edge of the lawn. That is unusual.


36 Canada geese in Field 1 along with 2 fawns, 4 does, and a 6-pt. buck. A small foraging guild on the south edge of the lawn: 3 brown indigo buntings, 2 bluebirds, 2 cardinals, and a pine warbler. One spotted turtle. The mowers are here, a day late, but they do a good job. 12 barn swallows foraging actively low over Field 4. Liz photographs some of the bigger, white, toadstools in Woods 3 and 5.


Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Bellevue, Maryland. Our quarantine continues, a form of glorified house arrest.

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