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Minutes of the DVOC
March 6, 2008

President Paul Guris called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM. Forty-five members and 1 guest were present. The minutes of the Jan. 21 2008 meeting were accepted.

Committee Reports

Membership: Anita Guris welcomed new member Josh Robeson and read his member profile.

Field Trip Reports: Rob Hynson reported that all field trips over the last two weeks had been rained out.

Up-coming Field Trip Announcements:

Steve Kacir’s photography field trip to Barnegat Light, NJ, originally scheduled for Saturday March 1, was postponed due to rain, and re-scheduled for March 8. Because of the dire weather forecast, it has been postponed again; it is now tentatively scheduled for Sunday March 16 .

Also scheduled for Sunday March 16 is a half-day field trip to Barnegat Light, NJ for new members and students, led by Chris Walters and coordinated with the Upper Main Line YMCA. Barnegat Light is the best location for Harlequin Duck and Purple Sandpiper, and is also excellent for eiders, loons and other winter sea and bay ducks, Ipswich Sparrow, Snow Buntings and longspurs.

Frank Windfelder will be running a field trip to Pedricktown and Mannington Marsh, NJ on Saturday March 29 for lingering winter waterfowl and early migrants. Possible specialties include Ross’s Goose, Cackling Goose, Ruff, and Yellow-headed, Brewer’s and Rusty Blackbirds.

On Sunday April 13, Denis Brennan will be running a field trip to Tinicum (John Heinz NWR, PA) for lingering waterfowl and raptors, early migrant passerines, and residents.

Paul Guris announced that there are still two spaces left for the pelagic portions of the May 29-June 1 club trip to North Carolina for “Surf and Turf Specialties.”

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

Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer gave an update on the Red Knot issue in New Jersey. Legislation banning the harvesting of horseshoe crabs has been proposed and is working its way through committee. There will be a meeting on Monday March 10. Eric Stiles (Conservation VP, NJ Audubon Society) is urging people to come to the meeting, and also to make phone calls and write letters (hand-written letters in hand-addressed envelopes are most effective) supporting the ban. Sample letters were handed out. Details are on the website at
http://www.dvoc.org/Conservation/Corner2008/ConservationCorner2008.htm.

Forms were circulated for making pledges to the 2008 DVOC World Series of Birding team. Proceeds will support Scott Weidensaul’s Northern Saw-Whet Owl banding program. Scott is circulating our pledge forms to other people outside the club as well. Proceeds will also support a summer intern in the Academy of Natural Sciences, and banding projects run by Tom Bailey and Hannah Suthers.

Kevin Kalasz, Delaware Shorebird Project Coordinator, is looking for volunteers for shorebird monitoring. Information sheets were available, and information is also available on the web at http://www.fw.delaware.gov/shorebirds/.

Nancy Bilheimer asked for signatures on a petition which she passed around, asking Governor Rendell to develop and implement clean energy programs for Pennsylvania.

Paul Guris showed a photograph of Beck’s Petrel (Pseudobulweria becki), a species previously known from only 2 specimens collected in 1928 and 1929, and not seen again until very recently when a researcher photographed approximately 30 individuals, including good numbers of juveniles, in an area northeast of Papua New Guinea. The bird is very similar in appearance to Tahiti Petrel, making field identification difficult.

Programs: Frank Windfelder announced the next two programs. On March 20, Jeff Gordon will speak on “iBird: Digital Technology vs. Natural History,” and on April 3, David Errol Pattemore will present "On the brink: Conservation of Endemic New Zealand Birds."

Announcements:

Frank Windfelder announced that we still have copies of several excellent books for sale at reduced prices. Jeff Wells’ “Birder’s Conservation Handbook” is available for $25.00 per copy, which is $10.00 off the list price, and we have copies of Carl Safina’s award-winning “Song of the Blue Ocean,” signed by the author, for $12.00 per copy – a savings of $5.50. Thirdly, we have sets of George Reynard’s tapes of “Voices of Birds and Birders” for the ridiculously low price of $10.00. We also have DVOC patches and window decals for sale.

Paul Guris announced that there are spaces available on his pelagic trips on March 16 from Cape May NJ, April 5 from Lewes DE, and in June in North Carolina. Details are at www.Paulagics.com.

Paul brought brochures for the September 1-5 pelagic trip from San Diego, CA on The Searcher, for deep-water seabird specialties. Paul will be a leader on this trip, and Anita Guris, Frank Gill and Sally Conyne will also be on the trip.

Paul Guris said that the World Series of Birding youth team, the “Subadult Skuas,” was still looking for a second driver for their team. Volunteers should contact Paul.

Local Notes:

Debbie Beer reported that there was a pair of Canvasbacks at Tinicum last Sunday.

Steve Kacir gave an update on his Montgomery County big year. At Green Lane Reservoir he found Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, other waterfowl, and a pair of Green-winged Teal, the first of the year. He also found first-of-year singing Swamp Sparrow and Northern Mockingbird.

Last Sunday Mick Jeitner found a Bald Eagle nest, with a female on eggs, on an island in the Delaware River near where routes 611 and 32 come together in Bucks County, PA.

Win Shafer birded the 130-acre old farm property which will be the new site of Episcopal Academy near Malvern, PA, and also the adjacent property, which is the old John DuPont estate. He found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, many sparrows, and about 30 Eastern Bluebirds. Previously Bobolinks had been found here. He said that there is good field habitat, and that he may run a spring trip to this area.

Colin Campbell noted that when John DuPont lived in Delaware he was an active birder and wrote a monograph on the birds of the Philippines.

Colin also reported that at Indian River inlet and nearby Delaware locations he had seen a Red-necked Grebe, two Razorbills, a Red-headed Woodpecker and good numbers of Northern Gannets.

At Amoco Island in Riverside, Al Driscoll found 100-120 Common Mergansers, 6 Tree Swallows, and 5 or 6 Green-winged Teal.

On West River Drive in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Josh Robeson saw an escaped Asian Swan Goose with clipped wings.

Ornithological Studies: Art McMorris announced the next two Orni Studies. On March 20 Anthony Gonzon will speak about the new Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas, and on April 3, Colin Campbell will present “New North American Birds - Expert Predictions and Actuality.”

He then introduced the night’s Ornithological Study, Sally Conyne, who presented her “North American Lesser Black-backed Gull Research Project,” which she is undertaking with Scott Weidensaul, Frank Gill, Bill Etter, Tom Johnson and Cameron Rutt. Winter sightings of this species in North America have increased dramatically in recent years, with the majority of sightings being in Bucks County, PA. The aim of the study is to determine where these birds are coming from, where they are going, what their migratory routes are, and whether any are breeding in North America. As the project progresses, she will appeal to club members for assistance with sighting and reporting of color-marked and color-banded birds.

Main Program: Frank Windfelder then introduced the main speaker, Keith Bildstein, the Sarkis Acopian Director of Conservation Science at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, who spoke about “American Kestrel: Studies at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Elsewhere.” Keith described extensive studies being done at Hawk Mountain for over 50 years. He described research methods and the results of studies on breeding biology, habitat use, feeding, threats and predators, diseases (especially West Nile Virus), and population trends. The decline of the American Kestrel in recent decades is correlated with the resurgence of a major predator, the Cooper’s Hawk, after the cessation of persecution of that species.

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

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary