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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Debbie Beer
February 1, 2009
Winter Waterfowl at Roosevelt Park, PA
I lingered a few minutes too long in front of the television this morning, waiting for the final swing of the Australian Open (Nadal triumphed, beating Federer in 5 sets). I arrived to Roosevelt Park several minutes after the group of 12 had already gathered. Blue skies and refreshingly mild temperatures made for a pleasant, muddy morning. A fast-flying falcon immediately caught our attention; it seemed too light for Merlin, too small for Peregrine… just too far for a firm I.D. We completed several scans of the main impoundment of which about two-thirds were frozen from the prolonged bitter cold. Bright sunshine and close range gave us great views of Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, about 6 Ring-Necked Ducks, and American Coot amid hundreds of Canada Geese, one juvenile Snow Goose and flocks of gulls on the ice (a few Herring and Great Black-backed conspicuous among the Ring-bills). On the adjacent small pond we admired the purple-green iridescent head of a male Bufflehead, along with several American Wigeon and a lone male Lesser Scaup. We searched without success for the two pair of Redheads seen yesterday. Where do they go?
After a short while, we left Roosevelt Park and 8 people continued
on to the second half of today’s field trip, in search of this week’s
RBA highlight, the LeConte’s Sparrow at Darlington Tract. We consolidated
cars at the Granite Run mall, and were soon filing into the fields of Darlington.
Within minutes the LeConte’s was spotted, though it took a little longer
for everyone to get satisfying views. Consistent with reports, the bird stayed
low, often walking along the snow and disappearing into thick clumps of grass.
But eventually it would fly out and land briefly on a stalk or shrub, giving
us great looks at it’s yellow-orange head and diagnostic thin white stripe
on the crown. This was a life bird for many, and the first record for Delaware
County. Check out Adrian Binns’ photos at: blog.wildsidenaturetours.com.
The tall grasses and extensive hedgerows held many sparrows, including Fox,
Field, American Tree, Swamp, Song and White-throated. House Finches sang melodies,
as Mockingbirds scolded aggressively. Two off-season Grey Catbirds were seen
in a distant tree. Thanks to everyone for a lovely day of birding.