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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Steve Kacir

April 21, 2007
CHESAPEAKE AND DELAWARE CANAL RAIL TRIP, DELAWARE

The third time’s the charm. Despite two weather related schedule changes and suboptimal conditions on Friday night into early Saturday morning, our DVOC rail trip was a great success. Butch Lishman, Bob Schaffer, Andy Urquhart, Win Shafer, Nikolas Haass, Raja Stephenson, and Rob Hynson joined me at the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal dark and early at 3:00 AM. Despite the clear night, there wasn’t much moonlight, and the winds were light. However, it was very cold, and the temperature kept falling until sunrise. Despite the cold, Southern Leopard Frogs and Spring Peepers called continuously. Our first bird of the morning was a Sora calling from the Thousand Acre Marsh off Dutch Neck Rd, and a Common Moorhen reluctantly called soon afterwards. Our next stop was Grier’s Pond. The water here was extremely high, which may have been due to the efforts of a pair of American Beavers that we saw and heard slapping their tails. We heard a Sora call at the pond area, but we couldn’t entice any Virginia Rails or King Rails to vocalize. On Andy Urquhart’s advice we moved near the base of the Reedy Point Bridge, where we heard a calling Virginia Rail from the area of the Thousand Acre Marsh. On the opposite side of Route 9 we heard at least three King Rails calling. Upon returning to the cars, we also heard some quarreling Raccoons in this area. As the sun rose, the air slowly filled with the songs of Swamp, Field, White-throated and Song Sparrows; Northern Cardinal; Common Yellowthroat and Carolina Wren.

A group of us continued on to Bombay Hook afterwards. Outside the refuge, we found Horned Larks, Savannah Sparrows, Killdeer, Black-bellied Plovers, Green-winged Teal, a Black-necked Stilt, a Northern Pintail, both yellowlegs, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers and Ring-billed Gulls. The headquarters area hosted Tree Swallows, Purple Martins and a pair of Barn Swallows. Three Eastern Palm Warblers flew overhead. A New Jersey Chorus Frog and a Wood Duck called, and a flock of Chipping Sparrows foraged under my car. At the Boardwalk Trail we found a Common Yellowthroat and watched a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A somewhat cooperative Seaside Sparrow sang for us from just off the boardwalk. Raymond Pool still held good numbers of Northern Shovelers, American Coot and Green-winged Teal along with a few Gadwall. A male Mallard and female American Black Duck were swimming together. Later, we found a second odd couple: a female Lesser Scaup and male Greater Scaup. At Shearness, we enjoyed seeing some breeding-plumaged American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, Blue-winged Teals, and a Pied-billed Grebe. At Bear Swamp, Nikolas noted some lingering Rusty Blackbirds in a mixed flock with Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Grackles, and Red-winged Blackbirds. At the night-heron roost, we saw a Yellow-crowned Night-heron with the Black-crowned Night-herons and had a Glossy Ibis farther down the road. Snowy Egrets were scattered throughout the refuge along with Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons. There were at least five different Bald Eagles seen around the refuge during the trip. A breeding plumaged Common Loon flew overhead at Bear Swamp and a Merlin soared overhead at Finis Pool. Other good Finis Pool birds included a Little Blue Heron, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Hermit Thrush that Win found.
We ended the day at around noon, with 86 species for the trip (87 if we include Butch’s pre-field trip Eastern Screech-owl from the canal area).

BIRDS
1 Common Loon
2 Pied-billed Grebe
3 Double-crested Cormorant
4 Great Blue Heron
5 Great Egret
6 Snowy Egret
7 Little Blue Heron
8 Black-crowned Night-heron
9 Yellow-crowned Night-heron
10 Glossy Ibis
11 Canada Goose
12 Wood Duck
13 Mallard
14 American Black Duck
15 Gadwall
16 Northern Pintail
17 Northern Shoveler
18 Blue-winged Teal
19 American Green-winged Teal
20 Lesser Scaup
21 Greater Scaup
22 Bufflehead
23 Red-breasted Merganser
24 Turkey Vulture
25 Black Vulture
26 Northern Harrier
27 Sharp-shinned Hawk
28 Red-tailed Hawk
29 Bald Eagle
30 Merlin
31 Ring-necked Pheasant
32 Common Moorhen
33 American Coot
34 King Rail
35 Virginia Rail
36 Sora
37 Black-bellied Plover
38 Killdeer
39 American Avocet
40 Black-necked Stilt
41 Greater Yellowlegs
42 Lesser Yellowlegs
43 Willet
44 Dunlin
45 Short-billed Dowitcher
46 Ring-billed Gull
47 Forster's Tern
48 Mourning Dove
49 Belted Kingfisher
50 Red-bellied Woodpecker
51 Downy Woodpecker
52 Hairy Woodpecker
53 Eastern Phoebe
54 Blue Jay
55 Fish Crow
56 Horned Lark
57 Purple Martin
58 Tree Swallow
59 Barn Swallow
60 Carolina Chickadee
61 Carolina Wren
62 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
63 Eastern Bluebird
64 American Robin
65 Hermit Thrush
66 Northern Mockingbird
67 Brown Thrasher
68 European Starling
69 Eastern Palm Warbler
70 Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler
71 Common Yellowthroat
72 Northern Cardinal
73 Eastern Towhee
74 Field Sparrow
75 Chipping Sparrow
76 Seaside Sparrow
77 Savannah Sparrow
78 White-throated Sparrow
79 Song Sparrow
80 Swamp Sparrow
81 Brown-headed Cowbird
82 Red-winged Blackbird
83 Rusty Blackbird
84 Common Grackle
85 House Sparrow
86 American Goldfinch

MAMMALS
1 American Beaver
2 Muskrat
3 White-tailed Deer
4 Eastern Cottontail
5 Raccoon

HERPS
1 Eastern Painted Turtle
2 Spring Peeper
3 New Jersey Chorus Frog
4 Southern Leopard Frog