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Voice of the Naturalist

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December 6, 2016
MD/DC/VA central and southern DE/WV panhandle

voice@anshome.org
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 (Senior $35; 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, November 29 and was completed on Tuesday, December 6 at 10:15 a.m.

Information on noteworthy birds 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 RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD in MD, LESSER GOLDFINCH* in VA, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER* in MD and VA, WESTERN TANAGER* in VA, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD in MD and BULLOCK'S ORIOLE* in VA.

Other birds of interest this week included GREATER WHITE-FRONTED, SNOW, ROSS'S and CACKLING GEESE, TRUMPETER SWAN, EURASIAN WIGEON, COMMON EIDER, HARLEQUIN DUCK, WHITE-WINGED and BLACK SCOTERS, LONG-TAILED DUCK, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, SANDHILL CRANE, AMERICAN AVOCET, PIPING PLOVER, AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, BLACK-HEADED and ICELAND GULLS, RED-THROATED LOON, GREAT CORMORANT, AMERICAN WHITE and BROWN PELICANS, CATTLE EGRET, GREEN HERON, GLOSSY IBIS, RED-TAILED HAWK (NORTHERN), GOLDEN and BALD EAGLES, SHORT-EARED OWL, LOGGERHEAD and NORTHERN SHRIKES, CAVE SWALLOW, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, EVENING GROSBEAK, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, SNOW BUNTING, ORANGE-CROWNED and NASHVILLE WARBLERS, NORTHERN PARULA, PALM, BLACK-THROATED GREEN, PRAIRIE and WILSON'S WARBLERS, VESPER, LARK, LE CONTE'S, LINCOLN'S and WHITE-CROWNED (GAMBEL'S) SPARROWS, PAINTED BUNTING, DICKCISSEL and BALTIMORE ORIOLE.

TOP BIRDS

A continuing young female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was seen in Wildewood, St. Mary's Co, MD on December 1-3.

A continuing first state record LESSER GOLDFINCH* was last seen in a residential back yard in Virginia Beach, VA early in the morning on November 29. If it returns the homeowner intends to provide new directions for those interested in looking for this bird.

After a four-day absence a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER* was again seen in a mixed species flock in or near Tydings Memorial Park, Harford Co, MD on December 2-6. On November 30 a resident of Fairfax, VA reported a brief appearance by another BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER* in his yard.

A male WESTERN TANAGER* has been seen almost daily since it returned to a residential feeder in Settlers' Mill, Williamsburg, VA on November 4 for the eighth winter in a row.

On November 29 and 30 and December 1 a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was spotted in a large starling, cowbird and blackbird flock in a field near the entrance to North Point SP and nearby in Baltimore Co, MD.

On December 2 a male BULLOCK'S ORIOLE* was photographed at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach, VA. This bird was originally spotted in the parking lot area near the trailhead for the Kuralt Trail and flew to the right side of the gravel road just after the nearby ponds.

OTHER BIRDS OF INTEREST

On December 4 four GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE visited Shearness Pool at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE. On December 4 and 5 two GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, and on December 4 a single continuing SNOW GOOSE, were seen in Deep Creek Lake, Garrett Co, MD. Three continuing ROSS'S GEESE were seen at North Point SP, Baltimore Co, MD all week, typically in a cove at the southern end of the park during the day and in fields near the park entrance early in the morning and around sunset. A continuing CACKLING GOOSE at Silver Lake in Rehoboth, Sussex Co, DE was most recently reported on December 1.

A longstanding tagged TRUMPETER SWAN that frequents Lake Churchill and nearby Gunner's Lake in Montgomery Co, MD was last seen at the former location on December 5.

A EURASIAN WIGEON was spotted in a very large number of ducks in Tubby Cove at Eastern Neck NWR, Kent Co, MD on December 1 and 2 and at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA on December 2. Noteworthy diving ducks included a COMMON EIDER and a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER at Grandview Nature Preserve, Hampton, VA on December 2; a COMMON EIDER at Indian River Inlet, Sussex Co, DE on December 3; and a COMMON EIDER off the fishing pier at Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE on December 4. Two continuing HARLEQUIN DUCKS were reported at the Ocean City Inlet, Worcester Co, MD on December 4. Inland, a female WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was photographed at Dyke Marsh WP, Fairfax Co, VA early in the morning on December 4 and a male BLACK SCOTER was photographed in Sandy River Reservoir from the end of Gates-Bass Road in Prince Edward Co, VA on December 2-4. In addition, on December 5 four LONG-TAILED DUCKS were discovered at Rocky Gap SP, Allegany Co, MD.

Late RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS included a continuing female at a feeder in Virginia Beach, VA on November 29 and December 3.

On December 4 two continuing SANDHILL CRANES were seen along Rock Lodge Road in Garrett Co, MD.

Large numbers of AMERICAN AVOCETS were seen during the week at Bombay Hook NWR, Prime Hook NWR and Lewes, DE, with a high of 90 individuals at Prime Hook NWR-Broadkill Marsh on December 2. On the same day eight AMERICAN AVOCETS were seen at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA. On December 3 an AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER made an unusual appearance at Upper Hooper's Island in Dorchester Co, MD. Other noteworthy shorebirds included a continuing late PIPING PLOVER at Swan Cove, Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co, VA on December 2-4 and a high of four late LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE on December 3 and 4.

On December 4 a BLACK-HEADED GULL was seen again at Swan Cove in Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co, VA. An ICELAND GULL was present for a short period in the Washington Channel side of Hains Point, Washington, DC early in the morning on December 4.

An inland RED-THROATED LOON was seen at the C & O Canal – Violette's Lock, Montgomery Co, MD on November 29 and December 1.

Sightings of GREAT CORMORANT included an area high ten individuals at Island #4 at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Northampton Co, VA on December 3 and six individuals at Black Walnut Point, Talbot Co, MD on December 1 and 3. A single GREAT COROMORANT was reported at Ocean City Inlet, Worcester Co, MD on December 4 and 5.

On December 2 six AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS were seen in flight at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach, VA. AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS continue at Blackwater NWR, Dorchester Co, MD, with a high of 45 individuals reported along Wildlife Drive on December 3. BROWN PELICANS continue to move up the Chesapeake Bay, with highs of 300 and 285 individuals at the east and west ends of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Queen Anne's Co and Anne Arundel Co, MD, respectively, on December 4.

CATTLE EGRETS included an area high 12 individuals along Morris Neck Road in Virginia Beach, VA on December 4 and five individuals as far north as Little Creek Horse Pasture in Kent Co, DE on November 30 and December 1, 3 and 5. On December 4 a very late GREEN HERON was found at Sandy Bottom Nature Park, Hampton, VA.

A single GLOSSY IBIS was seen at Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co, VA on December 2 and 4.

On December 4 a dark form of the RED-TAILED HAWK (NORTHERN) that is considered by some authorities to be a separate subspecies was photographed near the intersection of Route 213 and Lynch Road in Kent Co, MD. A GOLDEN EAGLE was seen perched and in flight along the Shenandoah River from Locke's Mill Road in Clark Co, VA on December 1 and in flight over the Pickering Creek Audubon Center, Talbot Co, MD on December 3. On December 1 observers at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch in Waynesboro, VA saw a GOLDEN EAGLE and 18 BALD EAGLES, which tied the second-highest single day count for BALD EAGLES in the history of this hawk watch and broke its prior all-time season record for BALD EAGLES of 280 by ten.

On December 3 two SHORT-EARED OWLS were photographed along Port Mahon Road in Kent Co, DE, and on December 4 one was photographed over Shearness Pool at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE. At dusk on December 4 two SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen at the top of the hill and in the field across from the ponds along Bells Lane in Staunton, VA.

The continuing NORTHERN SHRIKE* at the Sully Woodlands in Fairfax Co, VA was seen all week. On December 4-6 another NORTHERN SHRIKE was found along 123-132 Bens Point Road in Queen Anne's Co, MD. On December 2-4 a continuing LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was seen along Featherbed Road, about 0.5 mile south of the intersection with Rt. 340 in Clarke Co, VA, and on December 3 another apparent LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was seen perched on a wire along Route 50 about 1.3 miles east of the entrance to Blandy Experimental Farm/State Arboretum of Virginia in the same Virginia county. On December 4 a continuing LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was seen along Burwells Bay Road a short distance north of the intersection with Purvis Lane in Isle of Wight, VA.

On December 2 a single CAVE SWALLOW was photographed in flight over Swan Creek Wetland-Cox Creek, Anne Arundel Co, MD.

An irruption of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES in the reporting area continued, with confirmed sightings including two individuals at Swan Harbor Farm Park, Harford Co, MD on December 2; one continuing individual at Mt. Vista Park, Baltimore Co, MD on December 4; one individual at Blairs Valley Lake, Washington Co, MD on December 2; one individual at Blandy Experimental Farm/State Arboretum of Virginia, Clarke Co, VA on December 3; one individual at Whitaker Woods, Cecil Co, MD on December 4; one individual at Hydes Roads Park, Baltimore Co, MD on December 4; and one individual at Tydings Memorial Park, Harford Co, MD on December 5.

On December 3 an EVENING GROSBEAK was photographed at a feeder at 5624 Dumfries Road, Fauquier Co, VA.

On December 1 and 3-5 a high of eight LAPLAND LONGSPURS, and on December 1 and 3 a high of four SNOW BUNTINGS, were seen along Cartanza Road in Kent Co, DE. On December 3 a single LAPLAND LONGSPUR was briefly seen with the three continuing SNOW BUNTINGS on the rocks and short grass near the end of Crystal Pier at North Point SP, Baltimore Co, MD. Also in Maryland, an area high 95 SNOW BUNTINGS were counted during the regular weekly survey of Hart-Miller Island in Baltimore Co on December 5, and 12 SNOW BUNTINGS were found on Battery Island in Harford Co on the same day. In Virginia a high of eight continuing SNOW BUNTINGS were seen in sand dunes at First Landing SP in Virginia Beach on November 29 and December 3-5, and seven SNOW BUNTINGS were found at the Craney Island Disposal Area in Portsmouth on December 2.

Individual ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS were seen at Tydings Memorial Park, Harford Co, MD on December 1; Piscataway Park, Prince George's Co, MD on December 2 and 4; and Mount Pleasant Farm-Howard County Conservancy, Howard Co, MD on December 5, and two ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS were seen at Burton's Island in Delaware Seashore SP, Sussex Co, DE on December 2 and 4. Late migratory warblers included a NASHVILLE WARBLER and a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER found at Tydings Memorial Park, Harford Co, MD on December 3; a NORTHERN PARULA photographed at Blandair Park, Howard Co, MD on December 3; PALM WARBLERS at several locations; a PRAIRIE WARBLER photographed at Princess Anne WMA-Beasley Tract, Virginia Beach, VA on December 4; a continuing WILSON'S WARBLER at the south end of the picnic area at Dyke Marsh WP, Fairfax Co, VA on December 2 and 4; and a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT at False Cape SP, Virginia Beach, VA on December 4.

On December 3 and 4 a VESPER SPARROW was seen in the same area as the SNOW BUNTINGS at First Landing SP, Virginia Beach, VA. A LARK SPARROW was seen again at Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach, VA on December 1-5 and at Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve, Northampton Co, VA on December 3. On December 4 a LE CONTE'S SPARROW was photographed at Princess Anne WMA-Beasley Tract, Virginia Beach, VA. Two LINCOLN'S SPARROWS were found along the Richmond-Danville Trail in Pittsylvania Co, VA on December 2, and one was found on the north side of Lake Roland in Baltimore Co, MD on December 4 and at Cromwell Valley Park, Baltimore Co, MD on December 5. A white-lored WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (GAMBEL'S) was found during the weekly survey of Hart-Miller Island, Baltimore Co, MD on December 5.

On December 4 a female PAINTED BUNTING was seen at 816 Davenport Lane, Virginia Beach, VA. A continuing DICKCISSEL was most recently seen at a residential feeder in Charlottesville, VA on December 4.

Late songbirds also included individual BALTIMORE ORIOLES at a feeder in Lynchburg, VA on November 29 and 30 and December 1, 2 and 4; a feeder at 13534 Seashore Highway, Sussex Co, DE on December 1; Piscataway Park, Prince George's Co, MD on December 2; the National Arboretum, Washington, DC on December 3 and 4; and Dyke Marsh WP, Fairfax Co, VA on December 4.

***

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:

Full SPECIES NAME.

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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