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Voice of the Naturalist

Reports, comments,
   questions (email):  

July 26 2016
MD/DC/VA central and southern DE/WV panhandle

Gerry Hawkins
Audubon Naturalist Society of the
   Central Atlantic states (independent of NAS!)
Steve Cordle

Reporting Guidelines  |  Archives 

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 35; 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, July 19 and was completed on July 26 at 7:30 a.m. Information on noteworthy birds during this week is presented below in taxonomic order, as set forth in the American Ornithologists' Union Checklist for North and Middle American birds, as revised through the 57th Supplement (July 2016).

The top birds this week were BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCK* in VA, RUFF in MD and PACIFIC LOON* in DE.



On July 19 a single BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCK* was seen in flight from the causeway to Jamestown Island, James City Co, VA; and on July 24 six BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS* were photographed by a pond near the 18th hole at the Nicklaus Golf Course in Northampton Co, VA.

A male RUFF found in the marshy impoundment at Swan Farm Harbor Park, Harford Co, MD on July 18 was seen again early in the morning on July 19.

An apparent immature PACIFIC LOON* was seen near the red lighthouse off The Point in Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE on July 22 and photographed and filmed there on July 25. If accepted by the Delaware Bird Records Committee, this would be a new state record for DE.


A longstanding tagged adult TRUMPETER SWAN at Lake Churchill in Montgomery Co, MD was most recently reported on July 19. A continuing TRUMPETER SWAN also was seen again at the stormwater pond on the east side of the Broken Land Parkway exit off Route 29 in Howard Co, MD on July 19-23.

Small numbers of migratory ducks were seen in the reporting area during the week. These included a male BLUE-WINGED TEAL in a pond near 99 Oakwood Drive in Rockingham Co, VA on July 19; a male REDHEAD at a private pond along Kings Highway in King George Co, VA on July 25; a male SURF SCOTER at Assateague Island NS, Worcester Co, MD on July 23; and 2-3 BLACK SCOTERS at Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE on July 23 and 25.

Encounters with KING RAILS at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax Co, VA on July 19 and in the prior week suggest that this species nested there for the first time in many years. A KING RAIL, as well as a juvenile VIRGINIA RAIL and a COMMON GALLINULE, were found along Green Dumpster Road on Deal Island, Somerset Co, MD on July 25. A family of SORAS, another member of the rail family, was seen again at the Nazarene Church Wetlands in Rockingham Co, VA on July 18, 19, 21 and 23.

A single SANDHILL CRANE continues at a small pond near Mayne's Tree Farm and in fields along nearby roads in Frederick Co, MD, with the latest sighting on July 25. On July 25 two summering SANDHILL CRANES were seen again along Kiddsville Road (Fishersville) in Augusta Co, VA.

Highlights of the early stages of shorebird migration included large numbers of AMERICAN AVOCETS at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE and the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA, with a week high 81 and 174 individuals at these respective locations on July 20 and July 21, respectively. Concentrations of BLACK-NECKED STILT, a frequent companion of the AMERICAN AVOCET, included an area high 74 individuals at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA on July 21 and 38 individuals along Big Stone Beach Road in the Milford Neck Wildlife Area, Kent Co, DE on July 24. A single BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER was photographed at Swan Creek Wetland – Cox Creek, Anne Arundel Co, MD on July 20 and 21, and a single PIPING PLOVER was photographed at Grandview Nature Preserve, Hampton, VA on July 24. Two UPLAND SANDPIPERS were spotted at the Salisbury Airport, Wicomico Co, MD on July 21. Four WHIMBRELS were found along Savages Ditch Road in Delaware Seashore SP, Sussex Co, DE on July 23 and one was spotted along Prime Hook Beach Road in Sussex Co, DE on July 24. A WHIMBREL also was seen at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach, VA on July 22. The area highs of STILT SANDPIPER consisted of 14 individuals along Big Stone Beach Road in the Milford Neck Wildlife Area, Sussex Co, DE on July 25 and ten individuals at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE on July 24. A single WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was spotted at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA on July 21 and along Port Mahon Road in Kent Co, DE on July 22. A WILSON'S PHALAROPE also was seen at the Craney Island Disposal Area on July 21 and near the bridge along Cods Road in Prime Hook NWR, Sussex Co, DE on July 19 and 24.

An area high nine GULL-BILLED TERNS, including young, were observed at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA on July 21. Noteworthy terns also included a single BLACK TERN seen in flight from Tydings Memorial Park, Harford Co, MD on July 19 and a continuing BLACK SKIMMER observed during the regular weekly survey of Hart-Miller Island, Baltimore Co, MD on July 20.

On July 22 a basic-plumaged COMMON LOON was at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach, VA, which likely was the same individual seen there on July 16.

Six BROWN PELICANS were observed at Swan Creek Wetland – Cox Creek in Anne Arundel Co, MD on July 19, a likely result of the increasing presence of this species along the coasts of DE, MD and VA and Chesapeake Bay.
On July 19 an AMERICAN BITTERN was seen in flight from Green Dumpster Road on Deal Island, Somerset Co, MD. Sightings of the elusive LEAST BITTERN consisted of three and two individuals encountered on July 21 at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Anne Arundel Co, MD and Dyke Marsh WP, Fairfax Co, VA, respectively, and individual sightings at several other locations.

Post-breeding dispersal produced a SNOWY EGRET at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC on July 23 and 24, LITTLE BLUE HERONS, mostly juveniles, at several locations, including an area high five at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax Co, VA on July 24, and a single CATTLE EGRET at Swan Harbor Farm Park, Harford Co, MD on July 19.

A WHITE IBIS was seen at several locations as far north as central DE, with a high of six individuals near the intersection of Cods and 13 Curves Road in Sussex Co on July 25 and individual sightings at four other locations in Kent and Sussex Counties. Sightings of GLOSSY IBIS at coastal locations included an area high 280 individuals along Big Stone Beach Road in the Milford Neck Wildlife Area, Kent Co, DE on July 24 and 94 individuals along Green Dumpster Road on Deal Island, Somerset Co, MD on July 25. Inland two GLOSSY IBIS were photographed in Charles City, VA on July 24.

At least ten MISSISSIPPI KITES were observed in flight over the Prince William Landfill in Prince William Co, VA on July 24. Sightings of this increasingly common species elsewhere in Virginia included two individuals over Runt Powell Farm in Halifax Co on July 24; 1-2 individuals over Green Spring Garden Park and nearby Vale Road in Fairfax Co on July 19, 20 and 21; four individuals along Kings Landing Circle in Virginia Beach on July 19; and a continuing individual over Waverly Hills and nearby in Arlington Co on July 20 and 21.

On July 24 a resident of Washington, DC was surprised to find a GREAT HORNED OWL perched in a tree in his back yard in the Dalecarlia Parkway/Reservoir area.

Lowland COMMON RAVENS included a family of four in flight above Fort George G. Meade, Anne Arundel Co, MD on July 20.

A small number of nesting CLIFF SWALLOWS continue to be observed at the Georgetown Reservoir and the pedestrian bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC.

On July 23 several RED CROSSBILLS were again seen at Briery Branch Gap and nearby in Rockingham Co, VA.

Noteworthy sightings of warblers, which are all presumably early migrants, included a TENNESSEE WARBLER photographed along Burning Mines Road SW near the Mountainview Landfill in Allegany Co, MD on July 23, a pair of AMERICAN REDSTARTS reported along Turkle Pond Road in Sussex Co, DE on July 22, and a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER photographed in a residential yard in Loudoun Co, VA on July 23. Warbler highlights also included two CERULEAN WARBLERS at each of Billmeyer WMA, Allegany Co, MD and Mint Springs Valley Park, Albemarle Co, VA on July 23.

On July 22 two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were encountered at different locations at Masonville Cove, Baltimore Co, MD, where they are apparently spending the summer.

The only reports of DICKCISSEL during the week were a continuing male along Fowler Beach Road in Prime Hook NWR, Sussex Co, DE on July 20, 24 and 25.


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

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 enjoy the birds.

*Of interest to the applicable state 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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