Reports, comments, questions
|November 24, 2015
MD/DC/VA central and southern DE/WV panhandle
Audubon Naturalist Society of the
Central Atlantic states (independent of NAS!)
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, November 17 and was completed on Tuesday, November 24 at 10:30 a.m.
The top birds this week were BROWN BOOBY* in MD, FRANKLIN'S GULL* in DE and VA, GRAY KINGBIRD* in VA, CAVE SWALLOW* in VA and WESTERN TANAGER* in VA.
Other birds of interest this week included ROSS'S GOOSE, CACKLING GOOSE, TRUMPETER* and TUNDRA SWANS, EURASIAN WIGEON, COMMON EIDER, HARLEQUIN DUCK, BLACK, SURF and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, LONG-TAILED DUCK, COMMON GOLDENEYE, GREAT CORMORANT, LITTLE BLUE, TRICOLORED and GREEN HERONS, WHITE IBIS, GOLDEN EAGLE, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, SWAINSON'S HAWK, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, AMERICAN AVOCET, STILT and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, PARASITIC JAEGER, LITTLE, BLACK-HEADED and ICELAND GULLS, SHORT-EARED OWL, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH, SEDGE WREN, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, SNOW BUNTING, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, AMERICAN TREE SPARROW and several late songbird migrants.
An adult female BROWN BOOBY* continues near two large cargo ships on Locust Point in Baltimore Harbor, with the most recent sighting on November 23. On November 17, an apparently different female BROWN BOOBY* was found a short distance outside the reporting area at Van Sciver Lake (restricted access) in Bucks Co, PA. Found two days earlier, this bird is a first state record for PA.
A few FRANKLIN'S GULLS* remained in the area following the historic displacement that occurred along the mid-Atlantic coast last week. Sightings included two individuals spotted with LAUGHING GULLS at the Hunting Creek Bridge and nearby Dyke Marsh WP in Fairfax Co, VA on November 17 and 18, four individuals at Island #1 at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Northampton Co, VA on November 17 and, just outside the reporting area in New Castle Co, DE, one individual at Augustine Beach on November 21 and 22 and at the Port Penn Impoundments on November 23.
On November 21-23 a GRAY KINGBIRD* was observed foraging from wires near the intersection of Magotha and Harmony Roads in Northampton Co, VA. A rare fall visitor on the Virginia coastal plain, this is the first reported appearance of this species in Virginia since November 2005.
The perplexing post-breeding movements of CAVE SWALLOWS* continued to be evident at several coastal locations. Sightings included a daily high of 88 individuals at the Hawk Watch and Taylor Pond at Kiptopeke SP and nearby Magotha Road in Northampton Co, VA on November 17, 18, 20, 21 and 23, two individuals at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA on November 18 and one individual at Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co, VA on November 23.
A male WESTERN TANAGER* continues at a residential yard in James City Co, VA. First seen in January 2009, this bird returned to this location on November 2, eight days earlier than in past years.
OTHER BIRDS OF INTEREST
A continuing group of six ROSS'S GEESE was seen all week at several proximate locations in Caroline and Talbot Counties, MD, consisting of Tanyard Marsh and Skeleton Creek and south Poplar Neck Roads in Caroline Co and Easton WWTP and Barkers Landing Road in Talbot Co. A ROSS'S GOOSE also was found at Hurlock WWTP, Dorchester Co, MD on November 17 and 18. CACKLING GEESE were found at several locations, including a high of six at Hurlock WWTP, Dorchester Co, MD on November 17, 18 and 20 and two at Easton WWTP, Talbot Co, MD on November 17.
On November 20 and 21 a tagged and an untagged TRUMPETER SWAN* were reported at Turner Pond in Sky Meadows SP, Fauquier Co, VA. In MD, a longstanding, tagged TRUMPETER SWAN continues at Lake Churchill in Montgomery Co, with the latest sighting on November 22. In the latter part of the week migrating TUNDRA SWANS were conspicuous in sight and sound at several locations in the reporting area.
A male EURASIAN WIGEON was seen again at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA on November 18, and from the White Pine Circuit Trail at Loch Raven Reservoir, Baltimore Co, MD on November 21. COMMON EIDERS were uncommon, with 1-2 at the Indian River Inlet, Sussex Co, DE on November 20-22 and one off the south end of Prime Hook Beach at Prime Hook NWR, Sussex Co, DE on November 22. A continuing male HARLEQUIN DUCK was seen at the Indian River Inlet, Sussex Co, DE on November 20-22, but there were no reports of the two males seen last week a short distance south at the Ocean City Inlet in MD. On November 22 and 23 two BLACK SCOTERS* were seen inland at Riverbend Park, Fairfax Co, VA, and on November 17 two SURF SCOTERS* were seen again inland at Lake Shenandoah, Rockingham Co, VA. A hen WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was among the waterfowl at Black Hills Regional Park, Montgomery Co, MD on November 22, and a hen LONG-TAILED DUCK made a surprise one-day visit to Loch Raven Reservoir – Paper Mill Flats, Baltimore Co, MD on November 21. During the week COMMON GOLDENEYES made their first significant entry into the reporting area this season, with a high of 20 at the Route 231 bridge over the Patuxent River in Calvert Co, MD on November 21.
A small number of GREAT CORMORMANTS were reported at the Indian River Inlet, Sussex Co, DE on November 20-22 and at the Ocean City Inlet, Worcester Co, MD on November 20.
Noteworthy sightings of herons and egrets included a continuing late GREEN HERON at Wilck's Lake in Prince Edward Co, VA on November 17 and 19, a late LITTLE BLUE HERON found at Rocky Point Park, Essex Co, MD on November 17 and a high of 14 TRICOLORED HERONS at Chincoteague NWR and nearby areas in Accomack Co, VA on November 17, 21 and 22. A small number of WHITE IBIS were seen during the week at Fisherman Island, Northampton Co, VA and Chincoteague NWR and nearby areas in Accomack Co, VA, with a high of 14 at the latter on November 21.
Migrating GOLDEN EAGLES were observed at several area hawk watches, with individual sightings (except as indicated) at the Kiptopeke SP Hawk Watch, Northampton Co, VA on November 17, 21 and 23, Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, Augusta Co, VA on November 21, 22 and 23 (3), and Harvey's Knob Hawk Watch, Roanoke, VA on November 19 and 22. A GOLDEN EAGLE also was reported at Sky Meadows SP, Fauquier Co, VA on November 21, Violette's Lock on the C&O Canal, Montgomery Co, MD on November 22 and along Hanson Mountain Road in Albemarle Co, VA on November 23. Raptor highlights also included a NORTHERN GOSHAWK reported at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, Augusta Co, VA on November 17 and 20 and a young, light morph SWAINSON'S HAWK that flew over the Cape Henlopen SP Hawk Watch, Sussex Co, DE on November 23. For the second consecutive week a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was seen at Burkes Garden, Tazewell Co, VA, but to date these are the only reports of this species in the reporting area this season.
Small numbers of AMERICAN AVOCETS continue at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA, with 11 seen on November 18, and at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE, with a high of 35 on November 20-22. Lingering shorebirds included a STILT SANDPIPER seen at Bombay Hook NWR on November 22 and a PECTORAL SANDPIPER found at Tanyard Marsh, Caroline Co, MD on November 21.
PARASITIC JAEGER was observed at several coastal locations, including two at the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch, Sussex Co, DE on November 17, one at Rudy Inlet, Virginia Beach, VA on November 19 and 1-2 at the Kiptopeke SP Hawk Watch, Northampton Co, VA on November 17, 20 and 21.
On November 22 a first-cycle LITTLE GULL and a second-cycle ICELAND GULL were spotted among the many BONAPARTE'S GULLS at the Indian River Inlet, Sussex Co, DE. For the third consecutive year a BLACK-HEADED GULL is wintering at Loch Raven Reservoir – Paper Mill Flats or nearby in Baltimore Co, MD. A BLACK-HEADED GULL also continues in Swan Cove at Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co, VA, with the latest sighting on November 23.
Sadly, during the week a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO was found dead on the campus of The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, an apparent victim of a window kill on or about November 17, which is well past the extreme late date of November 10 for this species in Virginia's Birdlife – An Annotated Checklist (VA Gold Book).
A second-hand report of a SNOWY OWL in Baltimore Co, MD turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, but this species likely will make an appearance in the reporting area soon as numerous recent reports of SNOWY OWLS in the upper Midwest and Northeast indicate a third consecutive winter irruption of SNOWY OWLS, with early reports far exceeding the numbers seen by this time during the historic irruption in the winter of 2013-2014.
On November 17 a SHORT-EARED OWL was observed being mobbed by crows near Sandy River Reservoir (by the bridge on Route 605) in Prince Edward Co, VA.
A continuing female RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen at a feeder near the intersection of Jefferson Street SE and 24th Street SW in Roanoke, VA through November 22, which is well past this species' extreme late date of November 12 according to the VA Gold Book.
Two locally uncommon BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCHES continue in tall pines near the southern end of Poplar Neck Road in Caroline Co, MD, with the latest report on November 21.
On November 21 two SEDGE WRENS were discovered at Rumbly Point, Somerset Co, MD, and one was found along Magotha Road in Northampton Co, VA.
On November 23 a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was found on the South Beach at Sandy Point SP, Anne Arundel Co, MD. There have been few reports of SNOW BUNTING in the reporting area this season, but one was found at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA on November 18 and two were reported at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE on November 20.
On November 18 an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was found at Pemberton Park, Wicomico Co, MD and Patterson Park, Baltimore Co, MD, and on November 21 two were found at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.
AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS were seen in small numbers at several locations, with a high of three at the Irvine Nature Center, Baltimore Co, MD on November 21.
Finally, during the week there were a number of mostly one-day sightings of various late songbird migrants. These included a WARBLING VIREO in Glenn Dale, Prince George's Co, MD; a BLUE-HEADED VIREO at the Winkler Botanical Preserve, Alexandria, VA and Weyanoke Sanctuary, Norfolk, VA; a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER at five locations in MD and VA, including a continuing individual at Loch Raven Reservoir – Paper Mill Flats, Baltimore Co, MD; a NORTHERN PARULA at City Park in Newport News, VA; a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER at the Craney Island Disposal Area, Portsmouth, VA and Pemberton Park, Wicomico Co, MD; a PALM WARBLER at Lake Elkhorn, Howard Co, MD and Dyke Marsh WP, Fairfax Co, VA; a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK at Violette's Lock on the C&O Canal, Montgomery Co, MD; and a BALTIMORE ORIOLE at the Cape Henlopen SP Hawk Watch, Sussex Co, DE.
With thanks for the birds and best wishes to all this Thanksgiving.
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://anshome.org/shop)is an excellent source for guidebooks and many other nature-related titles.
To report bird sightings, e-mail your report to email@example.com. 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 records committee.
The Voice of the Naturalist is written and recorded on Tuesday mornings. If you email your reports, please email firstname.lastname@example.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