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Voice of the Naturalist

Reports, comments, questions

March 24, 2015
MD/DC/VA/DE/WV panhandle

Bob Hartman
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 was completed on Tuesday, March 24, 2014, at about 9 am.

Top birds this week: TRUMPETER SWAN* and THAYER’S GULL* in MD.


TOP BIRDS Most of the TRUMPETER SWANs seem to have disappeared, but the one at Black Hill RP (Montgomery Co MD) remains, with sightings on March 17, 19, 21, & 22. The two TRUMPETER SWANs at Patuxent Research Refuge Central Tract (Prince George’s Co MD) also remained on March 17; however, the Central Tract is not open to the public. A THAYER’S GULL was spotted March 19 at the Cecil Co MD landfill.

OTHER BIRDS OF INTEREST On March 17, a single ROSS’S GOOSE was present in Whaleyville MD (Worcester CO) along Tull Rd. Five ROSS’S GEESE were seen March 19 in the city of Baltimore MD, along the Parkview Trail. There was a sprinkling of CACKLING GOOSE in MD and VA during the week: on March 17, two were seen in Queen Anne’s Co MD at Chino Farms Forman’s Branch Bird Observatory, another two were present in Harford Co MD at CAPA Field, and a single was reported at Orchard House, in Cecil Co MD. Parkview Trail hosted 4 CACKLING GEESE on March 19, and one on March 22. Also on March 22, one CACKLING GOOSE was seen along Harrison Rd in Fauquier Co VA. A few COMMON EIDERs were still present March 18 & 19 at Ocean City Inlet (Worcester Co MD), with a max count of 4 on the 18th.

A single optimistic SNOWY EGRET was present March 22 at Deal Island WMA, Somerset Co MD.

Most of the ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKs have disappeared, but one was spotted in Somerset Co MD on March 18, and another was seen near Pioneer South Pond in Kent Co DE on March 19.

An even dozen SANDHILL CRANEs were seen March 17 in a flyover at Black Hill RP, and the single SANDHILL CRANE is still present in West Ocean City MD (Worcester Co), under the Geico sign along US50.

A few early shorebirds are beginning to show up in small numbers.

On March 17 & 21, a BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen in MD over the Susquehanna River between the ghost town Lapidum (Harford Co) and Port Deposit (Cecil Co). Lapidum/Port Deposit also hosted at least 2 LITTLE GULLs March 20-22. Another LITTLE GULL was seen March 21 at Back River in Baltimore city.

An early CLIFF SWALLOW was spotted March 21 over Violette’s Lock, on the C&O Canal in Montgomery Co MD. Other early arrivals on March 21 were a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER at Possum Pt in Prince William Co VA, and a LINCOLN’S SPARROW at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

RED CROSSBILLs were seen March 21-23 near the WV line in Rockingham & Augusta (VA) Counties, with a max count of at least 5. They were along Briery Branch Rd and on Reddish Knob. On March 17, a single COMMON REDPOLL was seen at Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co DE. Single COMMON REDPOLLs were seen March 18, at a feeder in Howard Co MD, and in Chincoteague town in Accomack Co VA. Finally, another single COMMON REDPOLL was spotted March 19 along Heatherwood Way in Sykesville MD (Carroll Co).


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

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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