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Voice of the Naturalist

Reports, comments, questions

May 19, 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 covers the week starting Tuesday, May 12, and was completed on Tuesday, May 19, at about 7:30 a.m.

Top birds this week: swans in MD, DE, and VA, NEOTROPIC CORMORANT* in MD, MISSISSIPPI KITE in DE, MD, and VA, and LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE in WV.


TOP BIRDS A few very late swans continue throughout the area. The TRUMPETER SWAN continued all week on Lake Churchill in Montgomery Co MD. In Anne Arundel Co MD, at the N. Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge, the vocalization of a swan there identified it as a TRUMPETER SWAN. It wasn’t on N. Tract’s Merganser Pond, so it isn’t clear whether it is the same swan observed the past two weeks on Merganser Pond (which had been tentatively IDed as a young TUNDRA SWAN by several observers). No swans have been reported on Merganser Pond this week. Several TUNDRA SWANs have been reported, scattered over the region: one at Bombay Hook NWR (Kent Co DE), present all week, one at Chincoteague NWR (Accomack Co VA) on May 13, one at Swan Harbor Farm Park (Harford Co MD) on May 17, and one along Long Neck Rd (St. Mary’s Co MD) also on May 17.

A NEOTROPIC CORMORANT* was present and well documented all week on the Potomac River near Violette’s Lock, Montgomery Co MD.

A surprising number of MISSISSIPPI KITEs were reported, scattered widely over the reporting area. They were reported on several days from Ft Smallwood hawk watch (Anne Arundel Co MD), with a max of 3 individuals on May 12. A single MISSISSIPPI KITE was reported near Violette’s Lock on May 16. In Fairfax Co VA, several MISSISSIPPI KITEs were reported all week near Gaines and Jackson Streets in Burke, with a high of 3 individuals spotted on May 12 & 15.

On May 17 & 18, a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was observed in Jefferson Co WV, very near the VA state line. This may be one of a pair known to be nesting just across the line in VA; since they are considered highly endangered in this area, they must not be approached closely, or otherwise harassed.


Undoubtedly an escape, but still interesting, was an EGYPTIAN GOOSE seen May 16 at Ft McHenry in Baltimore MD. A number of late waterfowl were reported, with the latest apparently CANVASBACKs, one May 12 at Swan Harbor Farm Park, and two present all week at Swan Creek Wetland in Anne Arundel Co MD. A single AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN was spotted May 17 at Blackwater NWR.

Variable numbers of BROAD-WINGED HAWKs were reported from the Ft Smallwood hawk watch, with a high count of 26 on May 12.

Fort Smallwood reported two SANDHILL CRANEs on May 15. Much farther south, near the south end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a single ROSEATE TERN was reported May 14.

For such a small, densely populated area, DC turns up some surprising birds. On May 13, ALDER and LEAST FLYCATCHERs were heard clearly, but not seen, on Hains Pt (SW DC). Another ALDER FLYCATCHER was reported May 15 at the National Arboretum, NE DC. On May 12, a PHILADELPHIA VIREO was seen in Rock Creek Pk, NW DC. On May 13, two COMMON RAVENs were spotted at Hains Pt, and on the same day, one was seen at Reagan National Airport, just across the Potomac River in Arlington VA.

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERs are always special in the lowlands, but one photographed in Millford Mill Park (Baltimore Co MD, just outside the border with Baltimore City), was an unexpected treat. Otherwise, lots of warblers (and other migrants) are being seen. The area checklist is pretty much full with the arrival of a scattering of MOURNING WARBLERs. One was spotted in NW DC in Rock Creek Park on May 14; another single was at the McCabe Nature Preserve in Sussex Co DE on May 14. In MD, a MOURNING WARBLER was seen at Wheaton RP (Montgomery Co) on May 13 along the mini-train track near Pine Lake; another was in Prince George’s Co May 14, along Black Walnut Swamp Trail. Other MD MOURNING WARBLERs were seen at Susquehanna SP (Cecil Co, May 14), at Millford Mill Park on May 15, a “heard-only” on May 15 at the Hughes Hollow parking lot (Montgomery Co), and on May 17 in Damascus (Montgomery Co) – a nice yard bird. Finally, VA had a single MOURNING WARBLER report, on May 15 at the Int. Conservation House in Fauquier 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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