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Voice of the Naturalist

Reports, comments, questions

April 8, 2014
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, April 8, 2014 at 10:00 am.

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

Other birds of interest are waterfowl, wading birds including SANDHILL CRANES, raptors including a few BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, BLACK-HEADED GULL, LITTLE GULL, early migrants, and some late departures.


The pair of TRUMPETER SWANS* continues along US50, about 3 mi nw of Vienna MD (Dorchester Co), with sightings on April 1&2. A THAYER’S GULL* was photographed April 2-4 at Ocean City Inlet, Worcester Co MD. The last remnant of the winter’s dramatic SNOWY OWL* irruption seems to be a single individual seen at Dewey Beach DE (Sussex Co) on April 2.


Waterfowl numbers are decreasing, but most of the expected species are still widely present. On Georgetown Res. (NW DC), 6-7 CACKLING GEESE were present April 2-4. Eiders were still present at Ocean City Inlet, with two each of KING EIDER and COMMON EIDER, seen April 3. Somewhat out of their normal habitat were some SURF SCOTERS, one April 1 on the Potomac R at Violette’s Lock, Montgomery Co MD, another April 2 at Black Hill Reg Pk, Montgomery Co MD. Also unexpected were a pair of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS seen April 3&5 at Little Meadows Lk, Garrett Co MD. Three LONG-TAILED DUCKS were seen April 3 on Triadelphia Res, Montgomery/Howard Counties MD.

Numbers of RED-NECKED GREBES seem to be decreasing, but they are still being seen throughout the reporting area, with a high count of 16 on April 4 in Carroll Co MD.

An early LEAST BITTERN was spotted April 2 along Elliot Island Rd, Dorchester Co MD, and a TRICOLORED HERON was present at Deal Island WMA (Somerset Co MD) on April 5.

Raptor migration seems to be getting underway, with significant numbers observed. Three BROAD-WINGED HAWKS were spotted April 6 from the Fort Smallwood hawk watch, Anne Arundel Co MD.

Many species of shorebirds were widely seen throughout the area.

The BLACK-HEADED GULL that has been at Hunt Valley Town Center (Baltimore Co MD) all winter was not reported this week, despite frequent searches. That might account for the BLACK-HEADED GULL observed April 2 not too far away at Lapidum MD (Harford Co), or the BLACK-HEADED GULL observed April 3 at Back River in Baltimore City. LITTLE GULLS were seen at three widely separated locations in MD: one April 1 at Port Deposit MD (Cecil Co), two April 3 at Jonas Green Pk (Anne Arundel Co), and a single on April 6 at Centennial Lk (Howard Co).

Early migrants were seen throughout the reporting area, especially TREE SWALLOWS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSHES, and YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS. Possibly preparing to depart the area was an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER seen April 3 in Baltimore City along Gwynne Falls Trail near Carroll Pk.

A variety of sparrows was reported, including some late AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS: on April 1, two each at Swan Harbor Farm Pk (Harford Co MD) and Swan Creek Wetland (Anne Arundel Co MD), and on April 6, two at James Farm Ecological Preserve (Sussex Co DE).

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.

 The Audubon Sanctuary Shop (301-652-3606, http://www.audubonnaturalist.org/index.php/support-ans/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 state, and include your name and a Tuesday morning contact, either e-mail or phone.

Thank you for calling, 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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