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Minutes of the DVOC
April 2, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:45 by President Paul Guris. Thirty-nine members and 1 guest were present. The minutes of the March 19 meeting were read and accepted.

Committees:

Membership: Chair Connie Goldman announced that Zach Baer is our newest member.

Cassinia: Editor Art McMorris reported that Volume 71 is now in the process of being formatted for the printer, and editorial work on Volume 72 is going on in parallel.

Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer announced that on March 19, US Secretary of the Interior issued the first-ever federal report on “The State of the Birds.” The report stated that a third of our approximately 800 species of birds are in decline; particularly affected are grassland, arid land, pelagic and coastal wetland birds.

Debbie encouraged everyone to reduce the size of their lawns, and plant native species of shrubs, trees, etc. in the space. Lawns are very poor habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Debbie described the conservation project that will be supported by the funds raised by the 2009 Nikon/DVOC “Lagerhead Shrikes” World Series of Birding team. All proceeds will go to support Willistown Conservation Trust’s bird banding station at Rushton Woods Preserve in Chester County. Scott Weidensaul and member Doris McGovern will be the master banders. Everyone was urged to pledge generously to our team.

Field Trip Reports: Bob Horton conducted the field trip reports and announcements of up-coming trips.

Steve Kacir reported on his Saturday, March 21 trip to Bombay Hook NWR, DE. This trip is new this year. A prime purpose of the trip was to get data on early breeders for the Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas. Six participants came. Three American Woodcocks were probable breeders. Other bird seen included a Blue (Snow) Goose x Canada Goose hybrid, 17 Wilson’s Snipe at Bear Swamp, and 3 flyby American Pipits.

Tony Croasdale reported on his trip, also new this year, to the Franklin Parker Preserve in NJ on Saturday March 28. The Preserve is a mixture of old cranberry bogs and pinelands. The trip was a great success. Sightings included Barred Owl, flyover American Pipits, and lots of Eastern Phoebes. The next day Tony went to the Serpentine Barrens.

Frank Windfelder’s trip to Pedricktown and Mannington Marsh and other Southwestern NJ destinations scheduled for Sunday March 29 was canceled due to bad weather.

Full reports are on the website: www.DVOC.org.

Field Trips – up-coming trips:

Jeff Holt announced that he would be running his annual trip to Riverwinds and the National Park Dredge Spoils in Gloucester County, NJ on Sunday April 19. Jeff has seen over 130 species at Riverwinds alone. The dredge spoils are good for nesting marsh birds and wintering waterfowl.

Steve Kacir will be running a photography field trip to Bombay Hook, DE on Saturday April 25. Targets will be overwintering birds, early migrants and early nesters. An effort will be made to document nesting Horned Larks for the Delaware Birding Bird Atlas.

Bob Horton announced Colin Campbell’s annual trip to southern Delaware and points beyond (in Maryland) for a 3-day weekend on May 1-3. This trip starts at Bombay Hook NWR on Friday morning and works south to Trap Pond State Park where you can camp or you can stay in a motel nearby. Saturday will be spent at Nanticoke WMA and areas around Seaford before returning to Trap Pond. Sunday will be at the Cypress Swamps in DE and MD, then in the bayside areas to the north. Interspersed throughout will be a gourmet tour trying local delicacies such as crab, scrapple and muskrat. Yummy. Full details on a flyer nearer the time. Please contact Colin to sign up.

Phil Witmer announced that he is planning an overnight trip to the lower Poconos for the mid-week dates of May 6-7 or 13-14. Participants will stay in cabins at the private Graystones Preserve and enjoy catered dinners. Information is posted on the website; see Phil if interested.

Bob Horton will be running a trip to the Lakehurst Naval Air Station on Wednesday June 10 to see the Upland Sandpipers that breed in the grasslands on the base. Other grassland birds such as Grasshopper, Vesper, Field and Savannah Sparrows, Horned Lark, Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink are expected, as well as other species in the nearby pine woods. It has been 4 years since the last field trip to this site. Advance registration is necessary, and participants must be US citizens and have a photo ID. Those wishing to drive on the base will also need to show their driver’s license, registration and insurance card. Limited to 20 participants.

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

Programs:

Frank Windfelder announced the program through June:

On April 16, Andy Smith will present a program entitled “Ten Million Years and Still Going: Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River and Elsewhere.”

On May 7th, Chris Lotz will speak about "Birding the Southern Third of Africa from Cape Town to Victoria Falls and Namibia." Chris will take us on a journey from the southern tip of Africa through extremely diverse birding habitats across 7 very different countries.
May 21 will be Robert Kirk presenting “Behind the Scenes of a Field Guide.”

And on June 4, Frank Windfelder will present “Trans-Pecos Birding.”

The meetings of July 2, August 6 and September 3 will be summer informal meetings. The first two will be at Palmyra Cove Nature Center, NJ, and the September meeting will be at Tinicum (John Heinz NWR, PA). Frank asked for suggestions for short, informal presentations for the summer.

Announcements:

Paul Guris announced that pelagic trips will be running in North Carolina on the Country Girl on May 30, 31 and June 1, and on August 15, 16 and 17. Mary Gustafson, Mike Fritz and Angus Wilson will be the leaders. The cost is reasonable, and discounts will be given to those taking multiple trips. Cards were available with full details of the trips. If interested, contact Mary Gustafson at live4birds@aol.com, or call 252-473-5577.

Chris Walters asked for volunteers to help run field trips to be held in conjunction with the AOU meeting in Philadelphia this summer. The meeting will be held on August 12-15, 2009 (Wednesday to Saturday). A committee consisting of Paul Guris (Chair), Chris Walters, Nate Rice and Bert Filemyr has met with Bob Curry, Chair of the AOU Local Host Committee, to make plans for short local trips before the scientific sessions on the days of the meeting (Thurs., Fri. & Sat.), and full-day trips to other destinations (e.g. Cape May, Hawk Mountain, Bombay Hook) on the days before and after the meeting (Wed., Sun. & Mon.). Anyone interested in volunteering to lead or co-lead trips should contact Paul, Chris or other members of the DVOC committee.

Tony Croasdale announced that his plans for a field trip to Belize on January 6-16, 2010 are coming together, and that an announcement will be made shortly.

Charles Danila (Connie Goldman and Deborah Danila’s dad) recommended the book, “Wesley the Owl,” which is on the Best-Sellers list. The book, subtitled “The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl,” follows a Barn Owl from the nest to age 18 or 19 years. Charles said that it’s a great read.

Local Notes:

Paul Driver was at the Pennypack Watershed in Montgomery County, PA 2 weeks ago and saw an Eastern Phoebe doing its flight song. They do this when they first return to their territory. Paul had ever seen it before.

Art McMorris reported 2 Peregrine Falcon observations. He reported that peregrines were again nesting on City Hall Tower, for the first time since the year 2000. Peregrines have nested off and on at City Hall for at least 100 years. Before the DDT era, the City Hall nest was the only peregrine nest on a man-made structure in the state; all the rest were on natural cliffs. Now most nests are on man-made structures. The nest box is on the south side of the tower, on the ledge 1 level below the clock.

Second, Art reported that while he was in Harrisburg talking to school teachers about peregrines earlier in the day, he received a phone call from a worker at the ComCast Center in downtown Philadelphia saying that a Peregrine Falcon was trapped in the rooftop equipment enclosure. The same thing had happened last fall. Art called Jerry Czech of the PA Game Commission; and Jerry captured the bird, examined it, found that it was healthy and uninjured, and released it. Its bands identified it as a bird that Art had banded at the nest in Martin’s Creek, PA in June 2008.

Erica Brendel reported that there are 2 pairs of Eastern Screech-Owls in Carpenter’s Woods, Philadelphia.

Al Driscoll reported that there is a Red-tailed Hawk nest on a window ledge at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. There is a nest camera, accessible from the Franklin Institute’s website.

Bob Horton was at Mannington Marsh recently and saw lots of Wilson’s Snipe, Northern Shovelers and Green-winged Teal. Ward Dasey added that he has seen several hundred Northern Shovelers there a few weeks ago.

Ward also reported a Bald Eagle nest which had a first-year bird sitting in it. He did not know whether there were eggs or young in the nest.

Tony Croasdale reported that there were about 40 Wilson’s Snipe at the horseshoe in Tinicum recently.

Doris McGovern reported that the Pennypack Bald Eagles were nesting successfully.

Doris McGovern spoke about the widespread influx of Pine Siskins this winter. She pointed out that Pine Siskins are opportunistic nesters, and will nest at any time of the year when food is abundant. Although the Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas officially ended Dec. 31 2008, mop-up work is continuing into 2009. Therefore, she requested that if anyone sees evidence of nesting of Pine Siskins, they should report it, either directly at the Atlas website, or to herself or Art McMorris.

Paul Guris reported that his Pine Siskin flock in Green Lane, PA is down to about 200-250 birds. This week he observed a male and female Purple Finch or the first time in a couple of months.

Ornithological Studies:

Chair Todd Fellenbaum introduced Steve Kacir, who presented “A Diving Bird Quiz.” Steve described and illustrated different diving methods: foot-propelled swimming, used by loons, grebes, coots, cormorants and bay ducks; wing-assisted swimming, used by sea ducks and anhingas; and wing-propelled swimming, used by alcids, penguins, diving petrels, shearwaters and dippers. He then showed photographs of various birds diving and invited the audience to identify them.

Main Program:

Frank Windfelder introduced Bill Evans, who had driven down from Cornell to talk about “Nocturnal Migration of Birds in the 21st Century.” Bill talked about his efforts over a number of years to track the nocturnal migration of birds by detecting, recording and identifying nocturnal flight calls. More information about migration paths and behavior is urgently needed because of the ever-expanding presence of wind turbines, lighted buildings, and other tall structures, which are lethal hazards to night-migrating birds and bats. Mortality is known to be high, but the full extent is not known. Bill showed video of a wind turbine taken with an expensive night-vision video camera, and played sound recordings documenting a bird strike. Unfortunately Bill brought the wrong PowerPoint presentation with him, and so he was unable to present all the material he had planned.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:25 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary