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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Colin Campbell

February 26, 2011
Delaware City, Delaware

After the rain and wind of the previous day, a very acceptable morning greeted a strong turn-out for this morning trip.

The flat Delaware River with high tide at 8am produced surpisingly little - a few Double-crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons - so we backed off to Dragon Run, viewed from Route 9. Nine species of duck were present, the drakes in fine plumage, along with Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot and the ubiquitous Canada Geese.

A walking tour of Fort Dupont State Park followed where the efforts to plant native tree species, and their protection from deer, were noted, along with the severe loss of trees by storms. Not many birds but Field and a single American Tree Sparrow added to the usual little band. Best was the finding of a Red-tail Hawk nest after following the flying occupants; later one of the birds gave us great, close views as it ripped a long piece of bark from a dead tree and carried it to its nest as lining material. Fun stuff.

Over the Reedy Point Bridge onto Thousand Acre Marsh where Common Merganser was added to the ducklist which was totally monopolized by Pintail, adult Bald Eagle heading for its distant nest and N. Harrier. Under the bridge, the adult Peregrine was in spectacular fresh plumage. I told someone that it was a male because of this and that. I was wrong - I was thinking of the difference between the 'Tundra' (usual) and the 'Pacific' subspecies. I think the only reliable distinguishing feature which separate the adult sexes is the relative size when seen together (the female being larger); the male may show more white on the upper breast, but I'd need Art's expertise on that. Whatever, it gave fine scope views and flew around calling - probably because of our presence.

Nothing to add at Grier's Pond, just an overhead Sharpie, so we parked at Gray Fox Farm where I'd promised close Black Vultures and a bunch of dapper White-crowned Sparrows, photographed there the previous day. We had to wait some time for the Blacks to appear, during which time an odd line of mixed Canada and Snow Geese passed overhead. Walking the hedgerows gave no sparrows, so you'll just have to make do with yesterday's photo (see below)!

The trip finished at Augustine Beach where a single female Bufflehead rounded out the ducks and a mind-blowing number of yet more Pintail on the lake. Total species: 54.

Photograph taken on 2/25 by Colin Campbell

Photographs taken on field trip by Bert Filemyr