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Minutes of the DVOC
February 7, 2008

President Paul Guris called the meeting to order at 7:45 PM. Thirty members and 5 guests were present. The minutes of the Jan. 3 2008 meeting were accepted as submitted.

Committee Reports

Membership: Chair Connie Goldman introduced new member Sarah Besadny, who joined in December.

Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer announced that:

(1) Denis Brennan and Phil Witmer have joined the conservation Committee

(2) There will be a special meeting about the NJ Horseshoe Crab harvesting moratorium, taking place Monday, 2/11, at Batsto Village. The NJ Marine Fisheries Council and NJ DEP will meet and vote on the moratorium which is set to expire Spring 2008.

(3) The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place 2/15-2/18. Count birds in your backyard or anywhere you go on these days. Log sightings on www.birdsource.org.

(4) And most importantly, DVOC council has approved the Conservation Committee's recommendation for projects to support with this year's World Series of Birding funds. We'll be supporting mainly the Saw-Whet Owl Banding Project on the Kittatinny Ridge, managed by Scott Weidensaul; we'll also be supporting an additional ornithological intern at the Academy of Natural Sciences (last year's WSB funds are supporting one intern this year). Lastly, we're supporting two banding projects in the local area, run by Tom Bailey and Hannah Suthers, respectively.

Larus: Paul Guris announced that new member Jason Loghry has volunteered to be the new Editor of Larus, and has been named to that post. Jason is a professional editor. Frank Windfelder, Connie Goldman and past editor Naomi Murphy have volunteered to help.

Cassinia: Art McMorris announced that Jason Loghry has also joined the Editorial Board of Cassinia.

Field Trip Reports: Tom Reeves reported on the Jan. 19 trip to Conowingo Dam and Muddy Run Reservoir. There were about 40 Bald Eagles at Conowingo but, surprisingly, no ducks at Muddy Run.

Win Shafer reported on Martin Selzer’s Jan. 26 Cape May trip. Among the locations visited were the Villas Wildlife Management Area, a disused old golf course which is reverting, and featured Eastern Bluebirds and Red-headed Woodpeckers, and Lily Lake, which held a Barnacle Goose.

Debbie Beer reported on her Feb. 3 trip to Roosevelt Park in south Philadelphia. The main lake had 2 female Redheads, a Lesser Scaup, and a good assortment other waterfowl. The trip finished up at Tinicum where Red-shouldered Hawk, Winter Wren, and other goodies were seen.

Frank Windfelder reported on the Montauk, Long Island trip of Jan. 19-21, led by Chris Walters and Erica Brendel. Highlights were Townsend’s Solitaire, Iceland Gull, Black-headed Gull, Snowy Egret, Cackling Goose, King Eider, Razorbills and about 50,000 scoters. A total of 103 species were seen. Although this trip has been run each winter for 20 years, this year’s trip added five new species to the all-time trip list, including Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Turkey Vulture.

Full reports of these trips are on the website: www.DVOC.org.

Up-coming Field Trip Announcements:

Colin Campbell announced his Sat. Feb. 9 Delaware City trip, meeting at 8:00 AM.

Adrian Binns announced his trip over President’s Day weekend, Feb. 16-18, to Algonquin Park and Amherst Island in Ontario, Canada, for owls and winter finches.

Martin Selzer will be running a trip to Indian River Inlet and other locations in Delaware on Sat. Feb. 16.

Win Shafer will be running a new trip on June 6-8 to Camp Susquehannock in Susquehanna County in northeastern PA. The trip will include visits to a number of sites in the area and may include some block busting for the PA Breeding Bird Atlas.

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

Programs: Frank Windfelder announced the next two programs. On Feb. 21 (meeting in the Bird Hall), Mary Gustafson will speak on “TexMex Birds,” and on March 6, DVOC member Keith Bildstein will speak about “American Kestrel, Studies at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Elsewhere.” The recently-arranged program for May 15 will be Debi Shearwater speaking about “Penguins of the World.”

Announcements:

Paul Guris announced several upcoming pelagic trips: Feb. 23 from Lewes, Delaware; Sunday March 16 from Cape May; and 3 new North Carolina trips on June 6, 7 and 8. For full details see his website at www.paulagics.com. He also announced that there might be a few spaces left for the pelagic portions of the May 29-June 1 club trip to North Carolina for “Surf and Turf Specialties” – see Paul or Adrian.

Adrian Binns announced that the new Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas had recently published its results. He read the list of the top 10 most abundant Ontario breeders. Number 1 was Nashville Warbler with 15 million breeding birds, and number 10 was Swainson’s Thrush with 8 million.

Frank Windfelder announced that he still had copies of Jeff Wells’ book available for $25.00 per copy.

Local Notes: Guest Josh Robeson was birding recently in Monmouth County, NJ where he saw a Greater White-fronted Goose in a flock of Canada Geese and other waterfowl. Bob Horton had just returned from New York City where he had seen the Scott’s Oriole 4 hours earlier. Colin Campbell recently returned from Arizona where he saw the Crescent-chested Warbler with club member Bill Stocku, and ran into member Bill Tannery while there. Steve Kacir gave a progress report on his Montgomery County big year. The past weekend he added Common Redpoll, White-crowned Sparrow and Common Goldeneye, bringing his species count to 71. The current record for the county is 151 species. Alice Sevareid reported that a neighbor had an Indigo Bunting wintering in their yard. Paul Guris reported that he and Anita had a Common Redpoll and about 50-60 Purple Finches at their feeders. Paul also gave a report of his recent pelagic trip from Freeport, NY. The trip set a NY state record with 49 Common Murres, 1 Thick-billed Murre, 1 Black Guillemot, 90 Razorbills, 106 Dovekies and 10 Atlantic Puffins, to sweep all the “gettable” alcids. The trip also had good numbers of Lesser Black-backed, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, Northern Fulmars, and Black-legged Kittiwakes. They also saw a Fin Whale.

Ornithological Studies: Art McMorris announced the next two Orni Studies. Feb. 21 will be the presentation of the 2007 DVOC Conservation Award, and on March 6 Sally Conyne will talk about her “North American Lesser Black-backed Gull Research Project.” He then introduced Debbie Beer who talked about “Sexing Bald Eagles.” Bald Eagles, like most raptors, exhibit reverse sexual size dimorphism, with the females being larger than the males. During her observations of the pair breeding at the Philadelphia Navy Yard last year Debbie noticed that the females also have a proportionately larger head and a bill that is larger than the male’s, especially in its height. This feature is not generally recognized and its functional significance is not known.

Main Program: Frank Windfelder introduced the main speaker, Nathan Gregory from Princeton University, who presented a program entitled “Savanna Home Companions: Fire, Pastoralism, and Bird Communities in East Africa,” based on Ph.D. research he is conducting in Kenya. He reported that human farming practices have been altering the landscape in east Africa for at least 4,500 years. The Masai and their predecessors have used fire to create grasslands for grazing, and they clear areas of acacias and build bomas, large corrals for their cattle, which accumulate large amounts of dung. In controlled experiments, Nathan and his collaborators found that both recently-burned areas and abandoned bomas show a change in distribution of plant and bird species and increases in biodiversity and bird density.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary