Date: 11/24/21 9:07 am
From: Harry Armistead <harryarmistead...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Ferry Neck & Blackwater N.W.R., November 18-22, 2021.

NOVEMBER 18, THURSDAY. ROUTE 481, Ruthsburg, singles: eastern meadowlark, American kestrel, and northern harrier. Nice to see these 3 declining species at the same exact spot. Arrive at RIGBY’S FOLLY at 2 P.M. 66 falling to 50 degrees F. at 11 P.M., SW5+ becoming SE5, clear, drying out, an essentially full moon rising in the east, a beauty; if it ever rises in the west, then call 9 1 1. As last visit tidal water clear for the 1st time in a while. Run into chef Erin O’Shea at Graul’s.

From the dock 2:30-5:30: glossy ibis 8 (in apparent migration; seen off to the east and flying due south; the previous latest fall date here is October 8), lesser scaup 16, Canada goose 430 resting and feeding in the cove plus 30 flyovers, hooded merganser 2 female-plumaged diving near the geese, turkey vulture 21 in sight simultaneously, belted kingfisher 1 (slamming a 5” fish repeatedly up side the head), bufflehead 31, great blue heron 1, laughing gull 22, common loon 1, and red-winged blackbird 70.

NOVEMBER 19, FRIDAY. Liz sees the partial eclipse at 3:30 A.M. right from our bedroom. The full eclipse would be much later and obscured by the trees. NW 20, 46, the high only 49, falling to 42 at 8:30 P.M., clear, a cold day.

Sit out on the lawn next to Field 1 from Noon to 2 P.M.: black vulture 23 (a flock; that’s a lot of BVs for here), bald eagle 6, Cooper’s hawk 1, myrtle warbler 20, eastern bluebird 18, turkey vulture 30. Some of the eagles probably associated with their nest in Woods 2.

In the cove are 230 Canada geese. Four gray squirrels at the feed. One unIDd sulphur. Daughter Mary and her boys Lucas and David arrive after sunset.

NOVEMBER 20, SATURDAY. Mary & David, taking advantage of a lower-than-normal low tide, don white boots and retrieve some of the detritus on the rip rap, washed away from the very high tide a few weeks ago: a life preservers (oh, excuse me, I mean to say PFD), a slab of styrofoam, and a crab net.

41-49, fair becoming mostly overcast, overcast, then fair again, as opposed to unfair (get used to it), winds light and variable, the way I like them.

The 1st 2 fox sparrows of this fall, doing that backwards sort of moon walk that exposes what is underneath the leaves, 3 slate-colored juncos at the feed, 130 Canada geese in the cove, 2 bald eagles, 4 eastern bluebirds. 45 tundra swans headed south with a single snow goose in the flock.

I walk counterclockwise, The Pond, Choptank River, and Lucy Point trails, a pretty good workout considering my recent lameness, and see out in the Choptank R. and in front of Tranquility: tundra swan 27 (very vocal), Canada goose 200, bufflehead 110, ruddy duck 20, surf scoter 80, and, nearby, an immature red-shouldered hawk.

In Poplar Cove: Canada geese have built up to 430, and overhead, 3 black vultures, and 3 bald eagles.

NOVEMBER 21, SUNDAY. BLACKWATER N.W.R., 7:30-1:30, fair becoming overcast, 33-56, calm or SE5, tidal water real low (lots of mud), fresh water high. Some, just a few really, of the birds below seen along Egypt Road, in Cambridge, or on the Malkus (Choptank River) bridge lamp posts, before or after the official refuge birdwalk.

The 1st walk I’ve led, due to the virus, since the winter of 2020. So good, so good, to be back, especially with 21 folks, a most congenial group. However, as happens most every time, a couple of their signatures are illegible, and I always forget to check them before we leave. The complete list, 51 species, including:

double-crested cormorant 2, great blue heron 7, great egret 1, cattle egret 10 (come in in a Canada goose flock!), American white pelican 25 (good views from the Pool 3 dike plus a single out in the middle of Blackwater River, perhaps the disabled bird, if so, present for years),

cackling goose 1 (rather conspicuous in a flock of Canada geese right over head at the Visitor Center). snow goose 0 (but have been present fide Tom Miller), Canada goose 750, tundra swan 300 (very vocal; several flocks flew right over us, not very high, in full cry), wood duck 2, mallard 500 (flushed by eagles a few times, with a few northern pintails and northern shovelers mixed in; actually there are more than a few pintails), ring-necked duck 20 (Pool 1 as usual), hooded merganser 2,

turkey vulture 12, black vulture 4 (Cambridge), sharp-shinned hawk 1, Cooper’s hawk 1, red-tailed hawk 1, northern harrier 2, American kestrel 1, bald eagle only 12 or so, herring gull 3, ring-billed gull 10, great black-backed gull 3, laughing gull 12, Forster’s tern 1.

mourning dove 95 (probably a lot more, several clusters of wirebirds looked suspicious, but in our haste to get to the V.C. early we do not stop to check these), rock pigeon 65 (Cambridge; that’s a pretty good total for this county), red-bellied woodpecker 1 (Liz actually sees the subtle smudge of red on the belly, usually not easily visible), downy woodpecker 3, pileated woodpecker 1,

yellow-bellied sapsucker 1, American crow 8, blue jay 1, Carolina chickadee 2, white-breasted nuthatch 1, Carolina wren 3, northern mockingbird 3, eastern bluebird 7, American robin 16, European starling 95, myrtle warbler 7, house sparrow 6, white-throated sparrow 4, song sparrow 2, swamp sparrow 1, American goldfinch 1, red-winged blackbird 200, and eastern meadowlark 3.

NON-AVIAN TAXA: sika deer (elk), 3 seen from the Observation Site on a muddy point on the marsh edge perhaps 0.5 miles distant). red admiral 1 (butterfly) up c. 25 feet on the trunk of a small deciduous tree near the Wildlife Drive blind, rather inert in the early morning sun but flicking its wings occasionally. No squirreleepoohs or turtles.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD: Close to a mega rarity. Early on Arnold spots it with his scope, all the way from Pool 3 as it is at the top of the persimmon tree next to the Visitor Center solar panels. Later when we have lunch in that area it is present the entire time, variously on the top of the oak by the picnic tables, on the persimmon, or perched on the V.C. roof including on the top of the antenna. Most accommodating. Kate gets some photos today.

I think this is its 25th straight day here. Seen by now by hundreds (maybe over one thousand?). Hundreds of photographs taken. Still somehow getting enough bugs. I thank Kurt Schwarz for correcting me when I wrote that the 2006 one was in Wicomico County. It was in Somerset County.

Present for today’s bird walk: Barbara Clipper, Norma & Brooke Lynch, Karen Beck, Kim Dammers, Laura Gwinn, Andre & Mark Waters, Theresa Goedelce, Deb Kuba, Peter & Fran Cincotta, John Eller, Pam Nopoulos, Elizabeth Fairey, Anne Cannon, Kate Murphy, Arnold Simon, Liz & Harry Armistead, Kate Norton.

NOVEMBER 22, MONDAY. leave 9:45 A.M. RUTHSBURG, 2 adult bald eagles in a field, a sign that in all likelihood there’s a deer corpse there. MILE 105, ROUTE 301, an adult bald eagle.

EDWARDS POINT DEVELOPMENTS: The rocks across the cove at low tide used to show a silhouette that looked just like a leatherback turtle hauled out. Something has happened over there and that is no longer the case. I KNEW you’d want to know.

… “The flashing of the lightning free,

The whirling winds’ tempestuous shocks

The stable earth, the deep salt sea

Around the old eternal rocks.” …

from the hymn “I bind unto myself today …” Attributed to St. Patrick.

Well … those rocks may very well have been eternal where they came from, but they’re not natural here.

Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Bellevue & Philadelphia.

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