Monday, May 18, 2009

Birding Delmarva...

On Friday May 15th, 8 of us boarded a van and headed out to bird in the Delmarva Peninsula. This area is made up Delaware, portions of Maryland and Virginia and is considered a premier location for birding. After picking up the van for our mode of transportation, I met the rest of the group around the corner from the Audubon office at 71 West 23rd street in Manhattan and then we were on our way. We drove for a few hours, making one stop for a bite and then it was onto our first stop which was Bombay Hook. Along the way we did see some species including Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures, but we were more focued on what Bombay Hook had to offer. On the drive to the BH visitor’s center we picked up our first Eastern Bluebird of the trip. Once we arrived at the center, some of us broke for lunch and others including myself went right into birding. It paid off for those of us who skipped lunch as we picked up a Male and Female Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Buntings, Orchard Oriole as well as Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Later, as more of us walked around the visitor’s center, we found a Red Phase Eastern Screech Owl that had taken up residence in a Wood Duck nest box. We also had nice looks at a Field Sparrow more looks at the Indigo Buntings, Orchard Oriole and enjoyed the Purple Martins that were in abundance. Then it was off on the Auto loop. Our first stop on the loop was to observe a group of shorebirds that we espied from the van. Most of the peeps were Semipalmated Sandpipers with a few Least among the group and Semipalmated Plovers. A nice surprise that I found was a Solitary Sandpiper…a bird that was not even on our checklist. Further along the loop we had outstanding looks at a Marsh Wren who sung and posed for us. Also, at the same location we had very good looks at Great and Snowy Egrets and picked up a Spotted Sandpiper. As we continued along the loop we picked up Black Necked Stilt, which was another good bird to have, but disappointingly we got no Avocets. After completing Bombay Hook, it was onto Little Creek Wildlife Area another Delaware hotspot for birding. This was one of my favorite spots as we saw a large number of Dunlins easily in the thousands along with Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers and a few Red knots in between. The volume of shorebirds that close was very nice and while I have visited some other locations that give me easy access for shorebird photography, this was very special. I found a spot on the rocks and enjoyed looking at the birds and taking photos. In fact, I walked a bit away from the group; just, so I could have that moment to myself…it was that special. I was reluctant to leave that vision, but away we went further along Little Creek for another bird, the Seaside Sparrow. Amazingly, this bird was easily enticed out into the open for good looks. After Little Creek, we headed to our hotel the Microtel Inns and Suites, in Salisbury. We checked in had dinner and then got some rest to prepare for the long day ahead. The next day could not come soon enough and I was up at 3:00 AM checking the time. We all met for breakfast around 6:30AM, which was at the Hotel and after making one stop for water and gas we headed out to our first birding site of the day in Whaleyville, the Pocomo swamp. As soon as we got out of the van at Whaleyville we were swarmed by giant sized mosquitoes and three of us including myself who had invested in bug jackets purchased at Bombay Hook, quickly donned them. We heard a White-eyed Vireo and then heard the Worm Eating Warbler, which was a target bird at that location. The first time we saw the Worm Eating Warbler not everyone had good looks and so we tried for it a few times, until everyone had good looks. Another good bird that we located was a Prothonotary Warbler that seemed very vocal…it was thought that it was being vocal because we were near its nesting site. Another bird that we enjoyed looking at was the Acadian Flycatcher. On our way out of Pocomo swamp we stopped at an area that was reportedly good for Bobwhite and Prairie Warbler; neither of these birds showed up, however, we had excellent looks at a Male Blue Grosbeak and for bonus we twice had looks at a gorgeous Red-headed Woodpecker. After a lunch break, we headed to Assateague Island, and birded the north end. The first bird we got was the “Yellow Throated Warbler”; the looks we got were so great that one of the birders…I think it was Claude, indicated that binoculars were not necessary. Out on the boardwalk overlooking the marsh a few of us had a glimpse of a Clapper Rail, we also picked up A Great Blue Heron flying in and several Egrets. Leaving that trail, we tried another area called Marsh Trail; here, we picked up Willets and I was the only in the group to see a hummingbird that zipped by right in front of my face. On the way out we observed the famous Assateague ponies hanging out along the beach. After a stop at the visitor center where some of us brought books and other stuff, we headed out to Nassawango Creek. Along the way, we stopped at an area that had numerous Bluebird boxes and observed several Eastern Bluebirds. Someone called out for a Meadow Lark, but we could not find it and that bird ended up not being reported on our list. At Nassawango, we had spectacular looks at Both Scarlet and Summer Tanagers almost in unison proving a rare comparison. We walked the trail in search of Swainson’s but we did not land any neither did we get any Pileated Woodpecker or the Brown-headed Nuthatch. We did hear several Prothonotary and had fleeting glimpses and heard quite a few Louisiana Water thrushes. On our way out we had another Red-headed Woodpecker, making it two for the trip. The next day we got off to an early start and caught an early ferry to Cape May, NJ. The ferry ride was smooth and along the way we saw several immature Northern Gannets along with some Terns and other birds, but no Shearwater. Once we disembarked from the ferry we headed out to Reeds Beach; unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse and by the time we got to Reeds beach, there was a steady rainfall. This was disappointing to a few of us who had looked forward to birding and photographing shorebirds. Comforting ourselves that we had gotten two spectacular days of birding, we took an early lunch with the strategy that by the time we finished lunch the weather might get better. The plan worked perfectly and by the time we got to our next destination at Brigantine NJ, the weather had cleared up. Once we got to Brigantine, we birded the woods trail and picked up several new warblers for the trip, including Chestnut-sided and Magnolia Warbler. From the trail, we then headed out to the auto loop. The loop turned in some really nice birds including a rare White faced Ibis. Other good birds included Whimbrel, Clapper Rail, Gull Billed Tern, Black Skimmer, Long and Short-billed Dowitchers, and Seaside and Salt-Marsh Sharp-tailed sparrows. We got back to the NYC around 7:50 and after dropping off the van and taking the train back to Queens, I got home a little after 9:00 PM tired, but very pleased with the trip. It was a good group of birders and I met some nice folks. Total Species that I saw and recorded: 131
  1. Acadian Flycatcher
  2. American Black Duck
  3. American Crow
  4. American Goldfinch
  5. American Oystercatcher
  6. American Redstart
  7. American Robin
  8. Bald Eagle
  9. Baltimore Oriole
  10. Barn Swallow
  11. Black Skimmer
  12. Black Vulture
  13. Black-and-white Warbler
  14. Black-belied Plover
  15. Black-capped Chickadee
  16. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  17. Black-necked Stilt
  18. Blackpoll Warbler
  19. Blue Grosbeak
  20. Blue Jay
  21. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  22. Blue-headed Vireo
  23. Blue-winged Teal
  24. Blue-winged Warbler
  25. Boat-tailed Grackle
  26. Brandt
  27. Brown Thrasher
  28. Brown-headed Cowbird
  29. Canada Goose
  30. Carolina Chickadee
  31. Carolina Wren
  32. Cedar Waxwing
  33. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  34. Chimney Swift
  35. Chipping Sparrow
  36. Clapper Rail
  37. Common Grackle
  38. Common Loon
  39. Common Tern
  40. Common Yellowthroat
  41. Double Crested Cormorant
  42. Downy Woodpecker
  43. Dunlin
  44. Eastern Bluebird
  45. Eastern Kingbird
  46. Eastern Phoebe
  47. Eastern Screech Owl
  48. Eastern Towhee
  49. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  50. European Starling
  51. Field Sparrow
  52. Fish Crow
  53. Forester’s Tern
  54. Glossy Ibis
  55. Gray Catbird
  56. Great Black-backed Gull
  57. Great Blue Heron
  58. Great Crested Flycatcher
  59. Great Egret
  60. Greater Yellowlegs
  61. Green-winged Teal
  62. Gull-billedTern
  63. Herring Gull
  64. House Finch
  65. House Sparrow
  66. House Wren
  67. Indigo Bunting
  68. Killdeer
  69. Laughing Gull
  70. Least Sandpiper
  71. Lesser Yellowlegs
  72. Long-billed Dowitcher
  73. Louisiana Waterthrush
  74. Magnolia Warbler
  75. Mallard
  76. Marsh Wren
  77. Mourning Dove
  78. Mute Swan
  79. Northern Cardinal
  80. Northern Flicker
  81. Northern Gannet
  82. Northern Mockingbird
  83. Northern Parula
  84. Orchard Oriole
  85. Osprey
  86. Ovenbird
  87. Peregrine Falcon
  88. Pine Warbler
  89. Prothonotary Warbler
  90. Purple Martin
  91. Red Knot
  92. Red-belied Woodpecker
  93. Red-eyed Vireo
  94. Red-headed Woodpecker
  95. Red-tailed Hawk
  96. Red-winged Blackbird
  97. Ring-billed Gull
  98. Ring-necked Pheasant
  99. Rock Pigeon
  100. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  101. Ruddy Turnstone
  102. Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
  103. Savannah Sparrow
  104. Scarlet Tanager
  105. Seaside Sparrow
  106. Semipalmated Plover
  107. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  108. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  109. Short-billed Dowitcher
  110. Snow Goose
  111. Snowy Egret
  112. Solitary Sandpiper
  113. Song Sparrow
  114. Spotted Sandpiper
  115. Summer Tanager
  116. Swamp Sparrow
  117. Tree Swallow
  118. Tricolored Heron
  119. Tufted Titmouse
  120. Turkey Vulture
  121. Whimbrel
  122. White-eyed Vireo
  123. White-faced Ibis
  124. Willet
  125. Wood Thrush
  126. Worm-eating Warbler
  127. Yellow Warbler
  128. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  129. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  130. Yellow-throated Vireo
  131. Yellow-throated Warbler
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Anonymous said...

Just wanted to drop you a note to say Thank you for staying with us. It was our pleaseure to be part of your Delmarva trip. Happy Birding! -- Jeff Walbert, Microtel Inn & Suites, Salsibury, MD.

forestal said...

Amazing job


Thanks Jeff for taking the time to visit the blog. I think the group really enjoyed staying at the Hotel and we will surely use the location again for our next trip.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thanks Dan. Appreciate you taking the time to visit. I hope you enjoyed the write-up and the accompanying photos.

steve_happ said...

That is awesome. and the photos are terrific as well. well done, dude :)