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Minutes of the DVOC
April 3, 2008

President Paul Guris called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM. Twenty-nine members and 1 guest were present. The minutes of the March 20 2008 meeting were accepted as submitted.

Committee Reports

Membership: Chair Connie Goldman read the profile of member applicant Beth Hunter, and welcomed new members Todd Fellenbaum, Gregg Gorton, Mark Cary, Howard Goldfine, Kathleen Klusman and Garr Novick.

Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer reported that eBird is looking for records of Rusty Blackbird sightings, particularly during the period from April 1 to 7. Populations of this once-common bird have crashed by 90% or more over the last few decades. Members are requested to report their sightings at http://ebird.org/.

Debbie asked for pledges for our World Series of Birding Team, the Lagerhead Shrikes. Proceeds will support Scott Weidensaul’s Saw-Whet Owl banding program, banding projects run by Tom Bailey and by Hannah Suthers, and a second summer intern for the Bird Department at the Academy of Natural Sciences. A pledge sign-up sheet was circulated with the attendance book. Pledge forms are also available on the website at www.dvoc.org/WSB/WSB2008/2008WSBPledge.pdf.

Field Trip Reports: Rob Hynson asked for reports of recent field trips.

Frank Windfelder gave the report of his Saturday March 29 trip to Pedricktown and Mannington Marsh. The group found a good variety of birds including 4 woodcocks and a Common Teal, found by Tom Bailey. Common Teal was once considered separate from Green-winged Teal; then the two were lumped, and a re-split is now being considered by the AOU. Also found was a Prairie Falcon wearing a jess, indicating that it had escaped from a falconer. The bird had black axillaries consistent with Prairie Falcon, but it was noted that several European falcons also have black axillaries. No Brewer’s Blackbirds were found.

Up-coming Field Trip Announcements:

Tony Croasdale announced that Denis Brennan will lead a field trip at Tinicum (John Heinz NWR), PA on Sunday April 13 for winter waterfowl, raptors, resident land birds and early spring migrants. Recent sightings at Tinicum include Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler, Fox Sparrow and Wood Duck. The trip will start at 8 AM at the refuge headquarters.

On Sunday April 20, Jeff Holt will lead a trip to Riverwinds and the National Park Dredge Spoils in Gloucester Co., NJ, across the river from Philadelphia. Jeff has personally seen over 130 species at Riverwinds alone, and the dredge spoils is an excellent place for over-wintering waterfowl and nesting marsh species. Targets for the morning will be early migrants and nesting bitterns, rails, Moorhen, Coot and Pied-billed Grebe. Meet at 7AM at Riverwinds.

Steve Kacir will lead a trip to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, DE, on Saturday April 26, starting at 3:30 AM. Targets will be night-calling marsh birds: Sora, Virginia Rail, King Rail, Marsh Wren and Sedge Wren. After sunrise, those who would like to continue will go to Bombay Hook NWR or to locations in Salem County NJ. Please make every effort to contact Steve Kacir if you plan to attend.

On Sunday May 4, Bill Murphy will run a trip to Fort Washington State Park, PA, an excellent place for spring migration. Meet at the hawk watch platform at Militia Hill at 7:30 AM.

Colin Campbell’s annual 3-day trip to southern Delaware and northern Maryland will be run on May 9-11 (Fri. – Sun.). The trip starts at Bombay Hook NWR and continues to Trap Pond State Park, Nanticoke WMA and areas around Seaford, the Cypress Swamps in DE and MD, and the bayside areas. Interspersed throughout is a gourmet tour trying local delicacies such as crab, scrapple and muskrat. Not to be missed!

Details of all these trips are on the website: www.DVOC.org.

Programs: Frank Windfelder announced the next three programs. On April 17, Frank Windfelder and Yoav Chudnoff will present “Bigtime Birding in Bulgaria,” a report of their memorable June, 2007 trip. On May 1, Bill Fintel will present "Antarctica and Seabirds of the Southern Oceans," and May 15 will also take us to the southern hemisphere, as Debi Shearwater presents “Penguins of the World.”

Announcements:

Frank Windfelder announced that we have a number of items for sale. DVOC 100th anniversary commemorative plates are available for $10.00. We also have copies of George Reynard’s “Voices of Birds and Birders” tape set, window decals, and a few copies of Carl Safina’s “Song of the Blue Ocean,” signed by the author, all at bargain prices.

Yoav Chudnoff is putting together a fund-raising birding trip to Bulgaria for mid-May 2009. All participants in the trip will become members of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, and 100% of the proceeds of the trip will be donated to support bird conservation. Proceeds from the trip will be used towards Imperial Eagle Conservation as well as other vital conservation projects in Bulgaria. Funds from the 2008 Fund Raiser trip to Hungary and Bulgaria (16 June to 29 June 2008) will be used towards Raptor conservation in Hungary and Imperial Eagle habitat conservation in Bulgaria. Currently the 2008 trip has two open slots for anyone who has an interest in joining the 2008 trip. Full details are available at www.friendsofbspob.org.

On behalf of Harry Armistead, Art McMorris announced that Dave Brinker of the Maryland DNR is looking for people to conduct surveys of colonial waterbirds on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in late May through June. Surveyors will be paid $16.00/hr. If interested, please contact Harry at HarryArmistead@hotmail.com.

Paul Guris invited people to pick up a free copy of the Delaware Birding Trails map at the front of the room, provided by Anthony Gonzon.

Paul also announced that there are still two spaces available on his Sunday April 13 Cape May pelagic trip, 3 spaces on the pelagic portions of the May 29-June 1 club trip to North Carolina for “Surf and Turf Specialties,” and a number of spaces on his North Carolina trips the following weekend. Information on the May 29-June 1 club trip is available on the club website, www.DVOC.org; for the other trips, go to www.Paulagics.com.

Finally, Paul announced that he and Anita were planning a 2-3-day land birding trip in southern California immediately preceding the Sept. 1-5 pelagic trip on The Searcher. Contact Paul or Anita if interested.

Local Notes:

Dee Ann Smith saw 110 Wilson’s Snipe at Mannington Marsh, NJ, last Sunday, March 30. Al Driscoll was also at Mannington Marsh on Sunday, and said that he counted 135 Snipe. Tom Bailey said that the record was 200.

At Tinicum (John Heinz NWR), PA, Debbie Beer recently saw 3 Rusty Blackbirds, 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 3 Great Horned owlets, and an early House Wren.

Bob Horton saw 4 Evening Grosbeaks at Assunpink, NJ.

Bob Mercer did a central NJ run and saw a female Purple Finch, over 2,000 Green-winged Teal at Tuckahoe, 1 Yellow-throated Warbler, 20 eagles, and 2 River Otters at Heislerville.

Anita Guris reported that she, Paul, and about 12 other birders were invited by Nikon (the sponsor of our World Series of Birding team) to go birding and preview their new line of “the EDG” (Extra low-Dispersion Glass) binoculars. Anita said that the binoculars are “simply amazing”: they are very bright, have extreme depth of focus, and will go from a close focus of 6 ½ feet to infinity with one turn of the focus wheel. They come in 7x42, 8x32, 8x42 and 10x32. They will be released in May and will retail for approximately $1800.00.

Art McMorris reported that he had just returned from a trip organized by Audubon PA to view the Sandhill Crane migration at their staging site on the Platte River in Nebraska. Besides seeing many thousands of Sandhill Cranes he saw a family group of 3 Whooping Cranes in a nearby farming area. The Platte is on the Whooping Cranes’ migratory route from the Texas coast to their breeding grounds in northern Canada but they seldom stop there, and are observed less than annually.

Debbie Beer reported that the Bald Eagles have not been observed at their Philadelphia nest site that was discovered last year. There have been a few sightings of Bald
Eagles in the area but not at the nest site.

Tony Croasdale said that an observer at Tinicum reported seeing a Bald Eagle carrying sticks.

Paul Guris reported that he and Anita still had about 2 dozen Purple Finches at their feeders in Green Lane, PA, and that there were about 45-50 Ring-necked Ducks at a nearby farm pond. There are 2 chicks in the Bald Eagle nest at the Green Lane Reservoir.

Ornithological Studies: Chair Art McMorris announced the next two Orni Studies. On April 17, Patty Thompson from the Lower Merion Conservancy will present “Changes in Spring Arrival Dates for Three Bird Species in Lower Merion from 1997-2007,” and on May 1 Sarah Warner will present “Swamp Sparrows – a Mystery Unfolds.”

He then introduced the night’s Ornithological Study speaker, Colin Campbell, who spoke about “New North American Birds - Expert Predictions and Actuality.” In a series of articles in Birding about 10 years ago, panels of experts made predictions about the bird species they thought were most likely to be the next to show up in 7 regions of the country. Although many new species have been documented since then, very few of the predicted birds were seen. Colin’s conclusion was that “making predictions is great fun, but useless.”

Main Program: Frank Windfelder then introduced the main speaker, David Errol Pattemore, who presented "On the Brink: Conservation of Endemic New Zealand Birds." New Zealand’s isolation for 80-90 million years has resulted in a flora and fauna that are mostly endemic. David discussed the many endemic bird species, genera, families and possibly even a sub-order, and the many extinctions that occurred after humans arrived 1,000 – 2,000 years ago and drastically altered the ecosystem. He then described current efforts to reverse some of the ecological damage and protect some of the remaining endemic species, finishing with a description of the program to promote the recovery of the Kakapo, a large flightless parrot.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary