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Voice of the Naturalist

Reports, comments, questions

July 28, 2015
MD/DC/VA/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 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, July 21 and was completed on Tuesday, July 28 at 9:15 a.m.

The top birds this week were NEOTROPIC CORMORANT* in MD and SWALLOW-TAILED KITE in DE.



Birders continued to observe a NEOTROPIC CORMORANT* at Violette’s Lock on the C&O Cana in Montgomery Co, MD, with the latest sighting on July 27.

On July 24 a SWALLOW-TAILED KITE was beautifully photographed in flight over Gordon’s Pond in Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE.


On July 27 a SNOW GOOSE was found with CANADA GEESE along the John J Williams Highway in Sussex Co, DE. A tagged TRUMPETER SWAN* continues at Lake Churchill in Montgomery Co, MD, with the latest sighting on July 27. A TUNDRA SWAN continues at Swan Cove in Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co, VA and at Pemberton Manor, Queen Anne’s Co, MD, with the latest sightings on July 26 and 24, respectively.

Out-of-season waterfowl also included all three scoter species, including perhaps most notably a male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER at Big Water Farm in Queen Anne’s Co, MD on July 25. In addition, a male CANVASBACK was seen at Hart-Miller Island, Baltimore Co, VA on July 22 and Tydings Memorial Park in Harford Co, MD on July 25; and a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was found at Patuxent River Park - Jackson Landing, Prince George’s Co, MD on July 22 and 23 and Lock Raven Reservoir - Loch Raven Point, Baltimore Co, MD on July 23.

A BLUE-WINGED TEAL was observed flying by Swan Creek Wetland – Cox Creek, Anne Arundel Co, MD on July 26 and in a cell there on July 27, which likely were early migrants as this species is one of the first ducks to migrate following breeding.

A location a short distance north of the Seneca Creek Aqueduct above Riley’s Lock on the C&O Canal in Montgomery Co, MD appears to be a molt-migration location for WOOD DUCKS based on the 56 individuals found there on July 26.  

On July 25 a RED-THROATED LOON with an injured wing was again seen near the dam in the Kerr Reservoir in Mecklenburg Co, VA. A COMMON LOON in nonbreeding plumage was spotted at The Point in Cape Henlopen SP, Sussex Co, DE on July 26. On the next day a birder walking on the beach at Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA was surprised to see a preening HORNED GREBE there.   

A high of ten AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS continue along Fowler Beach and Prime Hook Roads in Prime Hook NWR, Sussex Co, DE, with the latest sighting on July 27.

Post-breeding dispersal produced many herons and egrets in the reporting area. These included TRICOLORED HERONS at several locations, including a high of seven, all juveniles, at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (Horsehead), Queen Anne’s Co, MD all week; a single continuing individual at Jackson Landing or Selby’s Landing in Patuxent River Park, Prince George’s Co, MD on July 22, 23 and 26; and a high of three at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE all week. 

The substantial invasion of WHITE IBIS, almost entirely young birds, continued at various coastal locations as far north as New Castle Co, DE and into PA and NJ. The high count during the week was an estimated 1,700 individuals at Chincoteague NWR, Accomack Co, VA on July 23. Inland sightings included 1-2 individuals at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax Co, VA all week and, outside the reporting area, a continuing individual as far north as Wildwood Lake Park north of Harrisburg in Dauphin Co, PA on July 21-26.  

On July 21, 22 and 25 two MISSISSIPPI KITES were seen perched, in flight and copulating several times near Monticello Park in Alexandria, VA, which is a new location in the reporting area for this species. Sightings of continuing MISSISSIPPI KITES in Virginia Beach, VA included a recent fledgling in the Thoroughgood neighborhood on July 25 and 27.

Sightings of BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, which included two individuals at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in northwestern Loudoun Co, VA on July 25, indicate the onset of raptor migration.  

On July 23 and 24 a COMMON GALLINULE was seen again at Southwest Area Park in Baltimore Co, MD, and on July 24 one was heard at the appropriately named Moorhen Pond on Elliot Island Road in Dorchester Co, MD.

A SANDHILL CRANE was seen again at Quail Covey Farm Pond in Queen Anne’s Co, MD on July 22.   

Shorebirds increased in numbers and diversity and included small numbers of WHIMBREL, MARBLED GODWIT, RED KNOT, STILT SANDPIPER, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, WESTERN SANDPIPER, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER and WILSON’S SNIPE among other species. In addition, a continuing male RUFF was seen in Shearness Pool at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE through July 24. On July 22 three AMERICAN AVOCETS* were seen at Dyke Marsh WP in Fairfax Co, VA, which is a relatively rare inland sighting of this species in VA.

UPLAND SANDPIPERS were found at several locations. On July 22 one was seen in the first field east of Route 85 along the south side of Lilypons Road in Frederick Co, MD, which is directly across Route 85 from the Oland Road field where this species has often been found this time of year. On July 22 and 24 1-2 UPLAND SANDPIPERS were seen again at and near (along Bergold Lane) Dover Air Force Base (restricted access) in Kent Co, DE, which is a regular migrating location for this species. On July 26-28 a high of four UPLAND SANDPIPERS were observed at the Salisbury Airport, Wicomico Co, MD. 

Noteworthy shorebird sightings also included two RED-NECKED PHALAROPES and six WILSON’S PHALAROPES at the Craney Island Disposal Area in Portsmouth, VA on July 23.

GULL-BILLED TERNS were seen at several locations outside of breeding areas in southeastern Virginia, including one at Truitt’s Landing, Worcester Co, MD on July 22 and 23, one on Skimmer Island in Ocean City, Worcester Co, MD on July 27, and two at the Ted Harvey WMA – Logan Lane Tract North, Kent Co, DE on July 24.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were seen again along Magotha Road and at Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR in Northampton Co, VA on July 24 and 26, respectively, and also continue at various locations in Radford and Pulaski Co, VA.

On July 25 a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was found along Rough Road a short distance west of the intersection with Flat Rock Road in Mecklenburg Co, VA.

On July 26 a very large flock of PURPLE MARTINS, estimated at well over 1,000 birds, was seen swirling over the Home Depot on Pleasant Valley Avenue in Winchester, VA, which has been a staging area for this species in past years.

The beginning of southbound migration of passerines was further suggested by recent reports of several species of wood warbler, including an early NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH at Monticello Park, Fairfax Co, VA on July 25, and perhaps a male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK that was photographed at a residential feeder in Chevy Chase, Montgomery Co, MD on July 24.


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 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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