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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Martin Selzer

February 20, 2009 (Saturday)
Indian River Inlet and North, DE

After two major snow storms five days apart in the previous two weeks had blanketed the region with well over 3 feet snow a group of 15 club members and friends joined me on glorious winter’s day. In spite of a week’s worth of sunshine and warming temperatures, there still was lots of snow on the ground and most of the ponds and impoundments we visited were ice covered.

We started birding the waterway of the inlet with Horned Grebes, Buffleheads and several pairs of Common Goldeneyes. At the Inlet, we had Common and Red-throated Loons, Common Eider, Surf Scoter, Sanderling, Purple Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones and Great Cormorants.

Next stop was Silver Lake for the wintering flock of Canvasbacks. We couldn’t find the enigmatic Redhead that has been seen sporadically this winter but we did have Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shoveler, American Coots and Lesser Scaup.

From here we headed to Cape Henlopen State Park. After a quick stop at the Nature Center we moved on to the Campground and made a short loop looking for Brown-headed Nuthatches. We immediately had a very cooperative Red-breasted Nuthatch and had almost completed the loop and were back to our cars when a pair then a 3rd, then 4th and 5th Brown-headed Nuthatch came into the Lob-lolly Pines to feed at eye-level. We grabbed victory out of the jaws of defeat. Lunch was at Herring Point. The usual collection of sparrows that can be found in the park was not to be found this day. It had to be the snow cover and not the trip leadership or quality of the participants.

Our next stop was Broadkill Beach Road and Prime Hook NWR. The impoundments were still iced over but we did have a couple Tundra Swans, a Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle and very distant Kestrel here. We then tried Deep Branch Road hoping for some birds feeding along the edge and were rewarded with a pair of Horned Lark and 2 Brewers Blackbirds. We still were hoping for a field of geese to scan through but we never found them along a road that we could stop along.

From here we went to Bombay Hook. At the visitor center the snow had melted and we had White-throated, White-crowned, and Song Sparrows feeding under the feeders. Working our way around the refuge we had a nice mix of waterfowl including: Tundra Swans, Common, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, Ringed Necked Duck, and American Widgen, raptors included several Northern Harriers, a Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawks and a fleeting look at a Rough-legged Hawk for a few people.

Thanks to everyone for joining. Hope to see you again next year.

Martin