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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Lynn Jackson

Saturday July 18, 2009 - Bombay Hook (joint DVOC/WAS field trip)

“Roseate Spoonbill Watch …. Maybe we should have paid more attention to the sign “

It was an absolutely gorgeous day; sunny and mild with enough of a wind to keep the bugs at bay: a perfect day to explore Bombay Hook and coastal Delaware in search of returning migrant shorebirds.

As we moved out of the refuge headquarters, our group of 25 people strong immediately started seeing birds; gorgeous Swamp Sparrows and stunning Blue Grosbeaks posed prettily for everyone to see and admire. American Goldfinches were everywhere, Bobwhites called from the fields and a Pheasant flushed from the roadside. It took us quite a while to reach the first impoundment because of the frequent stops.

Water levels were still high despite efforts to drain the impoundments but we still saw an impressive number of returning shorebirds, mostly Short-billed Dowitchers but we also had both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semi , Western and Least Sandpipers, Semi-palmated Plovers, Killdeer, Spotted and Pectoral Sandpipers, Black-necked Stilts and a large flock of American Avocets.

There were also tons of herons and egrets, 2 Clapper Rail chicks, lots of Black-crowned Night-herons and 1 skulking adult Yellow-crowned Night-heron. A surprising find was a lone Bobolink along the roadside. As expected Eagles were everywhere; at one point we had 3 birds circling overhead.

After a lunch break we left the Hook and started north, stopping first at the Woodland Beach bayshore to check out the swallows congregating along the coast. We had tons of Barn Swallows and were able to pick out some Bank Swallows amongst the many Tree Sparrows.

With the day getting away from us we made a dash up to Thousand Acre Marsh to put in some time looking for the 2 American White Pelicans and 1 Roseate Spoonbill reported there earlier in the week. Despite some serious scanning we got only brief looks at the 2 Pelicans flying across the marsh. Moving around to another vantage point some people got better looks at the Pelicans but the Spoonbill remained elusive. We did pull out 1 last surprise for the day; a single breeding plumaged Ruddy Duck.

It was another great day in Delaware.