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Minutes of the DVOC
December 3, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:35 by President Paul Guris. Thirty members and 3 guests were present. The minutes of the November 5 meeting were accepted as submitted.

Bert Filemyr circulated a draft of the 2010 Membership Directory and asked people to make corrections and updates to their contact information.

Committees:

Membership: In the absence of Chair Connie Goldman, Art McMorris welcomed our newest member, Mark Sinclair.

Field Trips: Chair Bob Horton conducted the trip reports and announcements:

Trip Reports:

Bob reported that Sandra Keller’s field trip to Brigantine (Forsythe NWR, NJ) on Saturday Nov. 28 was very successful. They had great views of American Bittern, Hooded Merganser, Rough-legged Hawk, and other great birds.

Bob Horton’s hawk-watching trip to Raccoon Ridge, NJ, was postponed from Friday Nov. 27 to Sat. Nov. 28 because of the inclement weather forecast. Twelve Bald Eagles, 18 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 Golden Eagles, 4 Cooper’s Hawks, a late Merlin, and other good birds put on great shows.

Trip Announcements:

The 24th annual Philadelphia Mid-Winter Bird Census will be held on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010. The census is organized each year by its founder, Keith Russell. Participants are always needed; please see Keith.

Steve Kacir will run a photography field trip to Peace Valley Nature Center in Bucks County, PA, on Saturday, Jan. 9. Please let Steve know if you plan to come.

Erica Brendel and Chris Walters will be running their annual field trip to Montauk Point on the tip of Long Island, NY, for the Martin Luther King weekend, Jan. 16-18 (Sat. – Mon.). The trip specializes in winter seabirds, finches, and other winter residents and visitors. Space is limited, so please let Erica or Chris know soon if you would like to attend.

Win Shafer announced that he would be running a trip to Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, and other locations in eastern Ontario over Presidents’ weekend, Feb. 13-15 (Sat. – Mon.). Targets will be winter finches, raptors, owls, boreal birds, and whatever surprises are awaiting. The first bird seen last year was a Slaty-backed Gull. Win will arrange a van for this shared-expense trip. Please see Win to sign up.

On Feb. 18-22 (Thursday – Monday), Ana Pazos and Bob Horton will lead a trip to Puerto Rico. This is a shared-expense trip. The itinerary will cover most of the best birding spots on Puerto Rico. A wide variety of Caribbean birds can be expected, including most of the Puerto Rican endemics.

Bob has a list of all the Christmas Bird Counts in NJ for those who may be interested in participating. Paul invited anyone who is a Christmas Bird Count organizer, compiler or section leader who needs participants to solicit volunteers at this meeting and the next.

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

Programs:

Frank Windfelder announced the next program:

On December 17th, Steve Kacir will talk about "A Montgomery County Big Year,"
which he did in 2008. The main goal of the big year was to become more familiar with the county, its birds and habitats. A secondary goal was to beat the previous record of 153 species, and a tertiary goal was to beat the record by mid-May. Come and learn a little about the county, its countryside, its birds and its birders, hear the story about the one that got away, and about the ones that didn’t. Connie Goldman will present an Ornithological Study entitled "Ornithology Primer: Some Correlates of Wing Structure and Migration.”

Art McMorris announced the first 2 programs for 2010.

Jan. 7 will be the 120th Annual Members’ Meeting, followed by refreshments, a tradition since the founding of the Club in 1890. The meeting will feature the Annual Election of Officers and Council members, Reports by the Treasurer and Trustees, and a review of the area’s Christmas Bird Count results, compiled by Debbie Beer. Hear of surprises, trends, etc., in this century-long census of our resident birdlife. We will then adjourn for socializing over snacks and drinks, organized by Bonnie and Phil Witmer.

The Program on January 21 will be DVOC favorite Adrian Binns, presenting “The Naked Safari: Tales of East Africa.” Adrian has compiled humorous stories from his birding and wildlife tours in East Africa. Renowned for its peerless concentrations of wildlife, there is an extraordinary diversity of birds and mammals that make this part of Africa truly remarkable. There is so much more than just seeing the big 5 and saying you have been on safari. Come prepared for encounters and stories from the world’s most famous wildlife sanctuaries.

Nominating Committee:

Committee Chair Colin Campbell presented the Committee’s slate of nominees, to be voted on at the Jan. 7 meeting. The slate is:

Officers (1-year terms)
President: Frank Windfelder
Vice President: Art McMorris
Secretary: Bob Horton

Councilors (3-year terms):
Marty Dellwo
Todd Fellenbaum

Colin reviewed the nomination procedure. The slate of nominees is prepared by the Nominating Committee and approved by Council. Additional nominations can be made by any member at the first or second December meeting, with the advance consent of the nominee. Further details of these procedures, as specified by our By-Laws, are available on our website: www.DVOC.org.

Announcements:

Art McMorris announced that, as mentioned above, Bonnie and Phil Witmer are organizing the refreshments for our Annual Meeting on Jan. 7. People are needed to help organize, bring various items (for reimbursement or as donations), etc. Please see Bonnie and Phil.

Bob Mercer announced that he needs participants to help with the Southern Bucks County (PA) Christmas Bird Count on Sat. Dec. 19.

Rick Mellon announced that he needs help with the area he is covering for the Southern Bucks CBC on Sat. Dec. 19, and his area of the Cape May CBC on Sun. Dec. 20.

Paul announced that he still had space available on his pelagic trip leaving from Belmar, NJ this weekend. This is an excellent time for alcids. He also will be running pelagic trips in February from New Jersey and Delaware, going well offshore for Atlantic Puffin, Northern Fulmar, and other winter seabirds.

Local Notes:

Paul Guris saw the Ivory Gull at the Bree-Zee Lee Marina in Cape May, NJ, last Saturday. Also in Cape May were 2 Eurasian Wigeons at Lighthouse Pond, about 150 Common Eiders at St. Mary’s, a Swainson’s Hawk and a Western Kingbird at The Nature Conservancy’s Cape Island Preserve, and a Selasphorus hummingbird near Lily Lake.

Paul also reported that the crane flock in central New Jersey has grown to about 18-21 birds. The cranes are being seen near Husted Landing Road in Fairton. Vincent Nichnadowicz and Andy Smith also reported seeing them there recently.

Bert Filemyr reported that the Spotted Towhee is still being seen at Palmyra Nature Center, NJ, near the small pit. The bird hides well: Bert heard it in the brush on Saturday, and after 2 hours of searching, finally managed to see it. Bert recommended that people who go looking for it should familiarize themselves with the call.

Roy Frock reported that, a bit further afield, a Black Guillemot had been reported on a lake in Minnesota, a very rare occurrence for this species so far inland. Many birders gathered to look for it. Some saw it floating on the lake as night fell, and others stayed all night and saw it early the next morning. But then it was discovered that the bird was dead, and the question became: when did it die, and who, if anyone, saw it while it was still alive and countable?

Howard Eskin reported that all the usual winter seabirds were in at Barnegat, NJ, including all 3 species of scoters, about 17 Harlequin Ducks, and Purple Sandpipers. There was one unconfirmed report of a King Eider. No longspurs had been reported yet. Common Eiders Red-breasted Mergansers and scoters have also arrived at Sandy Hook, NJ.

Ornithological Studies: Guest Howard Eskin presented “A Fly Fisherman’s Observations about Some Diving Ducks.” As a fly fisherman, Howard learned to predict where a fish would rise to a fly, so he could cast his fly there. Adapting that strategy to his new avocation of bird photography, he tried to predict where a diving seabird would re-surface, so that he could have his camera aimed and focused on the right spot. He found that he could predict the right spot accurately 65-70% of the time for Harlequin Ducks and all 3 scoter species, and he showed stunning photographs of surfacing ducks. Each of these species was different, but predictable. Loons and mergansers, on the other hand, are completely unpredictable. Paul Guris pointed out that the predictable species dive for stationary prey, whereas loons and mergansers chase fish underwater. Howard also described collaborative hunting behavior he has observed in Double-crested Cormorants and in Laughing Gulls, which collaboratively herd fish against the shore and then take turns feeding.

Main Program:

Frank Windfelder conducted the annual Members’ Slide contest, which was judged by bird photographer Howard Eskin. Howard reported that the entries were even more impressive than last year’s excellent field, making it very difficult to choose. After all the slides were shown, the winners were announced:

Birds
First prize: “Wood Thrushes” by Andy Smith
Second prize: “Shy Albatross courtship” by Nikolas Haass
Third Prize: “Baillon’s Crake” by Rob Hynson

Natural History
First prize: Lion at Salati Game Preserve” by Patty Rehn
Second prize: “Butterflies, Tambubata River, Peru” by Barrie Ashby
Third Prize: “Barn Spider” by Marv Hyett

Scenery
First prize: “Scene from above Cracker Lake” by Connie Goldman
Second prize: “Sunrise on Oyster Creek” by Andy Smith
Third Prize: “Milford Sound South Island NZ” by Colin Campbell

Birders
First prize: “Tim Brauning on the Ben Franklin Bridge” by Art McMorris
Second prize: “Adrian Binns and Alan Brady High Five” by Frank Windfelder
Third Prize: “Frank can Break Dance” by Earl Harrison

Grand Prize (best of show): Lion at Salati Game Preserve” by Patty Rehn

The winning entries are posted on the website: www.DVOC.org.

Paul and Anita Guris awarded $50.00 gift certificates for Nikon Gear to the First Prize winners in each of the 4 categories, and a pair of Nikon Travelite Binoculars to the Grand Prize winner.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary