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Voice of the Naturalist

Reports, comments, questions

December 16, 2014
MD/DC/VA/DE/WV panhandle

Joe Coleman
Audubon Naturalist Society of the
   Central Atlantic states (independent of NAS!)
Steve Cordle

Reporting Guidelines  |  Archives  |  Naturalist Sightings

Please consider joining ANS, especially if you are a regular user of the Voice (Individual $50; Family $65; Nature Steward $100; Audubon Advocate $200). The membership number is 301-652-9188, option 12; the address is 8940 Jones Mill Road, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; and the web site is http://www.anshome.org.

This is the Voice of the Naturalist, a service of the Audubon Naturalist Society. This report covers the week starting Tuesday, December 9 and was completed on Tuesday, December 16 at 12:30 p.m.

The top birds this week were SNOWY OWL in DE, MD and VA, and WESTERN TANAGER* in VA.



SNOWY OWL sightings continued in MD & DE with one in VA as well. One was reported from Easton, MD on Dec 9. The one in VA was seen in a backyard in Chantilly, VA on Dec 12 at a location only about a mile from Dulles Airport. A SNOWY OWL was reported at Herring Point, Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE on Dec 14. Two were seen Dec 14 in the marshes along Port Mahon Rd, DE; one was seen there Dec 11.

A WESTERN TANAGER* was again seen at a feeder in Settler’s Mill, James City Co, VA with the latest report from Dec 15.


GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE continued to be seen at a number of locations. Nine of them, along with three ROSS’S GEESE and four CACKLING GEESE, were seen and photographed on private property at Curles Neck, Henrico Co, VA during the Hopewell CBC on the 14th. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE continued at Whittier Creek Park, Frederick Co, MD, with reports throughout the week.  Single GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were seen at Swan Harbor Farm Park, Harford Co, MD on Dec 10 and 11 and one was also seen Dec 9 at Cranberry Reservoir, Carroll Co, MD. As many as two ROSS’S GEESE were seen at the Cumberland Terminus, Allegany Co, MD throughout the week. Five ROSS’S GEESE were found at Bombay Hook and one at the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, Kent Co, DE during the Bombay Hook CBC on Dec 14. A ROSS'S GOOSE was found Dec 14 mixed in with a flock of Canada Geese at a small pond off Gristmill Dr behind the Graves Mill Shopping Center, Lynchburg, VA; it was also there on the 15th. CACKLING GEESE were reported from a number of locations throughout the week including as many as 10 on Dec 13 at Winter’s pond on Dennett Rd, Oakland, Garrett Co, MD. The TRUMPETER SWAN, first seen in mid-Nov and which hatched in Toronto in 2013 and was banded in Ontario, Canada in Feb 2014, continued to be seen throughout the week at Lake Churchill and on Little Seneca Lake at the next-door Black Hill Regional Park, Montgomery Co, MD. Another TRUMPETER SWAN was seen on Dec 9, 10, & 12 at or near the Cumberland Terminus.

A EURASIAN WIGEON and a EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL* (also known as COMMON TEAL) were found during a visit to Craney Island, Portsmouth, VA on Dec 11. A EURASIAN WIGEON was also seen Dec 14 at the Eastern Neck NWR, Kent Co, MD.

A hen GREATER SCAUP was seen Dec 9 at Centennial Park, Howard Co, MD. A male COMMON EIDER was seen Dec 9 from Island #1 of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel islands, Northampton Co, VA; two immature COMMON EIDERS were there on Dec 12 & 13. Two COMMON EIDERS were seen Dec 11, 12, & 13 at Rudee Inlet, Virginia Beach, VA.

A RED-NECKED GREBE was seen Dec 15 at Violette’s Lock, C&O Canal, Montgomery Co, MD.

A GREAT CORMORANT was seen Dec 14 at the Eastern Neck NWR, Kent Co, MD.

A LEAST BITTERN was found at Bear Swamp during the Bombay Hook (DE) CBC on Dec 14.

A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was reported from Woodland Beach Dec 14 during the Bombay Hook CBC. An immature light phase ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK flew south over the Baltimore Beltway east of Charles St on Dec 13.

GOLDEN EAGLES were seen on Dec 13 along Wimer Mountain Rd, Highland Co, VA. A GOLDEN EAGLE was found Dec 14 at Bear Swamp during the Bombay Hook CBC.

Eight SANDHILL CRANES flew over Ellicott City, MD on the 15th. The continuing SANDHILL CRANE at Raymond Pool and the Shearness Pool, Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE was seen as recently Dec 15. Varying numbers of SANDHILL CRANES were seen along and near Bradshaw Rd close to Kingsville, Baltimore Co, MD throughout the week with two there on the 13th, six on the 11th, eight on the 14th, and 12 on the 12th.

A dozen PURPLE SANDPIPERS were seen Dec 13 at Herrington Harbor, Anne Arundel Co, MD. A WILSON’S PLALAROPE was seen Dec 11 at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA.

A FRANKLIN’S GULL continued to be seen during the week at Chestertown WWTP, Kent Co MD. An ICELAND GULL was found Dec 14 at Violette’s Lock on the C&O Canal in Montgomery Co, MD.

A SHORT-EARED OWL was seen Dec 14 and 15 hunting over a farm field on Gerst Rd in Perry Hall, Baltimore Co, MD.

A LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was seen Dec 11 along Mineral Spring Rd, Boydton, Mecklenburg Co, VA. For the second year in a row a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was found at Bergdoll Rd, DE during the Bombay Hook CBC on Dec 14.

A SEDGE WREN was seen on Dec 14 & 15 at the Eastern Neck NWR, Kent Co, MD. Another was seen Dec 15 near the boat ramp at the Ellis Bay WMA, Wicomico Co, MD.

Two LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen and photographed along Whitehall Neck Rd, right outside Bombay Hook NWR, on Dec 11. Six LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen Dec 13 at the Woodward Turf Farm along Normans Ford Rd, Remington, Fauquier Co, VA; two were seen there on the 15th. One was found Dec 14 at Woodland Beach, Kent Co, DE during the Bombay Hook CBC. 

A SNOW BUNTING was seen Dec 14 at Sandy Point SP, Anne Arundel Co, MD. Several were reported from a variety of locations during the Bombay Hook CBC. There was a Nov 14 report of SNOW BUNTINGS at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel islands, Northampton Co, VA.

Two BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS were found on Dec 14; one was at City Point, Hopewell, VA while the other was at Prince George, Prince George Co, VA. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was seen Dec 13 at Big Water Farm, Queen Anne’s Co, MD. A NASHVILLE WARBLER was seen Dec 13 at Roaches Run, Arlington Co, VA.  A YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, first seen in a backyard on Dec 2, was seen again on Dec 14 during the Charlottesville CBC.

A late LINCOLN’S SPARROW was found Dec 14 during The Plains CBC in northwestern Prince William Co, VA.

A SUMMER TANAGER was seen and photographed at a backyard feeder in Potomac, Montgomery Co, MD on Dec 11.

A YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was seen Dec 14 mixed in with a “massive” flock of Red-winged Blackbirds at Chesapeake Farms, Kent Co, MD.


This week's report was based on reports on the DE, MD, VA, and WV list servers, and on eBird records.

The Audubon Sanctuary Shop (301-652-3606, http://anshome.org/shop) is an excellent source for guidebooks and many other nature-related titles.

To report bird sightings, e-mail your report to voice@anshome.org. Please post reports before midnight Monday, identify the county as well as the state, and include your name and a Tuesday morning contact, e-mail or phone.

Thank you for your interest, and good birding!

*Of interest to the records committee.

Reporting Guidelines

The Voice of the Naturalist is written and recorded on Tuesday mornings. If you email your reports, please email voice@anshome.org, by Monday midnight to make sure they are received in time.

Reports prior to the preceding Tuesday will not be considered.

The area covered is (with rare exceptions) DC, MD, VA, and southern DE; all other reports should be sent to the appropriate rare-bird alert for the area in which the birds were observed.

Be sure to report only those birds that you actually saw, not ones that someone else told you about.

And please remember to include a phone number where you can be reached on Tuesday morning; if you can't be reached to verify a rare bird, your report will almost certainly not be used.

There are two main circumstances in which a bird sighting will not be reported on the Voice as a matter of policy. The first is if the report would jeopardize the bird's welfare:

Reports of species that are threatened or endangered at the state or federal level are generally not used, especially during nesting season--local Loggerhead Shrikes are an example; similarly, owls are not listed, with two exceptions--Snowy Owl and Short-eared Owl; and rails are also generally not mentioned; the rails at Huntley Meadows Park, VA, are an exception because birders stay on the boardwalk.

The second circumstance concerns private property: If the property owner does not want birders, the sighting will not be reported--at least in a way that identifies the location.

Please keep your reports concise (no lengthy trip reports, please), and provide the following information:


NUMBER of individuals of each species (estimates for big flocks are fine).

Age and sex, if relevant (important for gull observations, for example).

Location, including COUNTY and STATE (there are four Middletowns in MD).

DATE of observation ("today", "yesterday", "Saturday", etc., are not as helpful).

TELEPHONE NUMBER where you can be reached on Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

DIRECTIONS to little known places (your favorite local hot spot may not be familiar to the Voice compiler or to other nonlocal people); page numbers and map coordinates from the DeLorme atlas/gazetteer are extremely helpful.

Access limitations, if any; and, for birds that are on private property, whether the owner does not want birders, if you know.

Unusual behavior seen.

For RARITIES, a description of features YOU ACTUALLY SAW (not what is in the field guides).

Thanks in advance for your reports. You can be sure that they will be read. Don't be disappointed if your sighting isn't mentioned; when there are a lot of reports, summary comments sometimes have to be made. There are times, however, when every report is used in writing the Voice, for example, during the hot days of summer. -- Voice of the Naturalist


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