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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Colin Campbell
Friday - Sunday May 1-3, 2009 - DELAWARE HOTSPOTS AND GOURMET WEEKEND
Nine human participants and two dogs attended this annual weekend of fun, food and fantastic (one always hopes) birds. New, keen birder Kevin joined us just for the Friday and found 147 new life species. After adjudication, involving total birds seen does not equal all new species, merging male and female into one etc, he'd still got about 20. He'll do well, pity he's away to one of those numerous states beginning with 'M' to plan his future life. His departure was compensated by Bill who, with his two French Bulldogs, managed to survive the whole weekend without (too many) incident(s). Unlike last year.
Helen's Sausage House was the start on Friday morning. Thus fortified, we headed to Bombay Hook NWR where shorebirds were certainly more entertaining (meaning more easily visible) than warblers and their ilk. Goodies of the former family were Pectoral Sandpiper and especially, a Whimbrel, which flew in and landed in Bear Swamp Pool, looking for all the World like an Eskimo Curlew (even before the pubs were open). A good bird for this location. Barred Owls sang at Finis Pond. No less than three Wood Duck boxes were visibly occupied by rufous-phased Eastern Screech-Owls. A covey of Bobwhite crossed the road nr the HQ where a late White-crowned Sparrow lingered. Lunch was taken at Sambo's in Leipsic where the crabcake sandwiches never fail to please. On to Port Mahon where, surprisingly, the four pairs of Blue-winged Teal stole the show in the empoundment. A Least Bittern flew across the road in front on the lead car; despite all the electronic gadgetry we could muster, it would not respond for a second showing. Ted Harvey WMA had residual ducks - Hooded Merganser and American Wigeon amongst them - and mosquitoes. And Black Skimmers. We headed cross-country for Trap Pond State Park where the campers make camp before meeting up with the motellers at a Mexican (i.e. local) restaurant.
We broke fast early Saturday at Britt's in Laurel where the quarterback's breakfast has to be seen .. and devoured .. to be believed. The local police force was there to prove it. A calorie-expending walk was next starting at Phillips Landing on the Nanticoke River. Prothonotary warblers were in abundance - thank goodness, as other warblers were difficult; the Prairie showed well and a Blue-headed Vireo was seen by the fortunate few along with Worm-eating, Magnolia and an elusive Yellow-throated. Barred Owls sang. A local field had a singing Chat and Indigo Bunting. Lunch was taken in an ethnic sports bar and was excellent. The afternoon's entertainment involved a long wait for the Rough-winged Swallow to appear at Trussom Pond but cavorting Thrashers and a ground-level Pileated Woodpecker livened things up. Trap Pond State Park had attractable Scarlet Tanagers to the yurt where a couple of participants had decided to spend their nights. Their cooler provided a delightful 'wee refreshment' as an apperitive to the evening's meal at the Georgia Inn, a newly opened Laurel restaurant .. and good! Saturday night closed with a campfire and a few sleep-helpers, needed to allay the nocturnal T-storms.
Morning was disturbed by a Barred Owl chorus #3 at 4am. A soggy packing for the campers and off to Britt's again for much needed coffee before the relatively long drive to the Pocomoke Bridge in MD. Stars of the show here were three singing Kentucky Warblers, though sorting out the Cuckoo calls was 'interesting'. Worm-eating Warblers were good value and two pairs of Summer Tanagers prevailed. Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak in the same small dead tree gave a nice comparison, and further down the road a close Solitary Sandpiper allowed excellent viewing. Em-Ings BBQ in Selbyville, surely one of the tastiest north of NC, provided lunch and, as the rain started, we decided to finish the trip at Mispillion. A wonderful choice as the sought after Red Knot and Oystercatcher were there as well as Sanderling and Skimmers .... and an excellent introduction to the nice-and-dry-and-warm DuPont Nature Center for those who had not been there before.
Shorebirds (19 spp) outnumbered Warblers (15 spp) and the total of 132 spp was a tad less than in recent years, but the quality of the humour and cameraderie was .... priceless!