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Minutes of the DVOC
September 17, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:40 by President Paul Guris. Thirty-nine members and 4 guests were present. The minutes of the June 4 meeting were accepted as submitted.


Membership: Chair Connie Goldman announced our newest 2 members, Roy Seneca of Marlton, NJ and Kevin Burke, a grad student at Penn; and read the applications of Georgia and Barrie Ashby of Philadelphia and Deidre Asbjorn of Bayville, NJ.

Publications: Cassinia Editor Art McMorris reported that copies of Cassinia Volume 71 that had not been picked up during the summer meetings had been mailed to members.

NB4NB: Chair Paul Guris gave the background of the “New Bins for New Birders” program and reported that we are donating binoculars to two more groups: we are giving 8 pairs of Nikon binoculars to the new “PA Young Birders” group and are also donating 8 pairs to the Environmental Education program of the Milton Hershey School, a school for children in need.

Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer reported that DVOC’s team, the Nikon/DVOC “Lagerhead Shrikes,” had raised about $3,000.00, which has been sent to this year’s conservation grant recipient, the Willistown Conservation Trust, to support its bird banding station at Rushton Woods Preserve in Chester County, PA. Debbie reported that WCT is setting up its banding operation this fall and that it would be open to the public next spring.

Witmer Stone Committee: Chair Mick Jeitner reported that letters have been sent to 8 other organizations to solicit their support and coordination in our efforts to erect educational signs at the location of the old Witmer Stone Sanctuary at Cape May, NJ, and to get the area of the old sanctuary, which now lies within Cape May Point State Park, re-designated the Witmer Stone Sanctuary. The committee has now raised enough money to pay for the signs, and Mick thanked everyone for their donations, and said that further donations would be very much appreciated. The next steps are to get permission from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) to erect the signs, and to re-name that portion of the park. The project will be described in the next issue of Larus.

Field Trips:

Trip Reports: Chair Bob Horton conducted the reports of recent and up-coming field trips:

Steve Kacir reported on his trip to the Johnson Sod Farm in New Jersey on September 5 (re-scheduled from Sept. 12). Not many birds were seen. One American Golden Plover was seen, and a Great Egret standing in a wet area.

Frank Windfelder reported on his trip to Palmyra Cove, NJ, on Sunday Sept. 6. The trip was limited to 10 people, but 17 came. Frank reported that there were “no birds,” and then went on to describe a good assortment of birds, including 7 species of warblers and a good showing of raptors, including Osprey, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk.

Bob reported on Mike Fritz’s Sept. 8 trip to Higbee Beach WMA, NJ, entitled “confusing fall birders.” Eight participants saw a good assortment of migrants, including lots of Veeries, Eastern Kingbirds and Red-eyed Vireos, and 9 species of warblers, with especially good numbers of American Redstarts and Black-and-white Warblers. Other good finds were Gray-cheeked and Swainson’s thrushes and 2 Philadelphia Vireos.

Jane Henderson gave two reports. Her trip to Ft. Washington State Park, PA on Sat. Sept. 12 turned up 5 birders, rain, lots of mosquitoes and few birds. The best birds were a young Great-horned Owl perched in a tree, and American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue and Black-and-white Warblers.

Second, Jane reported on her annual Manayunk Chimney Swift roost trip in Philadelphia, PA on Monday Sept. 14. Unfortunately, few swifts are using the roost at the Jenks School this year; most are at the Dobson school, where parking is next to impossible. Nevertheless, 20 people showed up for the trip at the Jenks School, and Jane described the Chimney Swift migration and communal roosting phenomenon while the group observed a few swifts which came but did not roost.

The following trips were announced:

On Sat. Oct. 10, Frank Windfelder will run a trip to Tuckerton Marsh, NJ, for Sharp-tailed Sparrows. This is a prime location to see both Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows, possibly including all 3 subspecies of the former, during their fall migration.

On Sat. Oct. 31 or Sun. Nov. 1 (depending on the weather forecast), Frank will lead a trip to Bake Oven Knob, PA for migrating raptors. This is a fine hawk-watching site and always an enjoyable trip.

Steve Kacir will run a photography field trip to Norristown Farm Park, PA, on Sun. Oct. 11. Being surrounded by urbanized area, the park is a good “trap” for migrants and field birds. Last year a good number of Vesper Sparrows and Dickcissels were seen on this trip.

Debbie Beer will run the annual Northern Saw-whet Owl banding field trip on Saturday Nov. 11. The trip is to Scott Weidensaul’s banding station at Hidden Valley, PA. Registration is required. Space is limited to 15 participants and this trip always fills up early, so people are urged to sign up promptly.

Finally, Bob urged people to volunteer to run new field trips in the future. Although we have extensive field trip offerings, there are always new places to explore and new adventures to engage in.

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


Frank Windfelder announced the programs for the next 2 meetings:

On October 1, Pete Dunne, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory and the founder of the World Series of Birding, will talk about “The Best (and the Worst) of the World Series of Birding.” Pete says that “enough people have died now that the stories can finally be told.”

On October 15, Rob Fergus will speak about “birds of the Ancient and Modern Maya.”

And the November 19 program will be our special event, the Annual Banquet. The speaker will be Rick Wright, the Managing Director of the birding tour company Wings and the former editor of ABA’s “Winging It.” Rick will talk about “The Most Beautiful of the Whole Beautiful Lot: Wood Warblers of the American Southwest.” Banquet Co-Chair Bernice Koplin described the event, and urged everyone to sign up early and bring a guest. Connie Goldman asked people to send in slides of themselves or other members to be shown, in slide-show fashion, during the cocktail reception.


In Chris Walters’ absence, Art McMorris announced that the club would be honored this coming Saturday afternoon by the Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn, PA, as being instrumental in the development of their Youth Ecology Program. This is due to the work of the Club in the last few years (and, Art added, particularly due to the efforts of Chris Walters) in helping their kids on the World Series of Birding and doing Barnegat field trips and Christmas Bird Counts with them. This recognition will be announced by a State Representative who will do the honors; Chris will be there to acknowledge and receive the award on behalf of DVOC.

Paul described further efforts DVOC is taking to encourage and support young birders. A new committee, the Youth Birders Committee, was recently formed, to connect with youth birding groups and provide mentoring and support. Chris Walters is a member of the committee and will continue his association with the Upper Main Line YMCA. Debbie Beer is also on the committee, and will serve as liaison to the new club, “PA Young Birders,” recently organized by Kevin Loughlin. Adrian Binns is also on the committee. Paul encouraged people to join the committee to serve as liaisons to other youth birding groups.

Adrian Binns gave further information about the PA Young Birders club, and DVOC’s New Bins for New Birders (NB4NB) program. NB4NB donates binoculars to groups that promote new and young birders, and has given binoculars to many such groups. When Kevin Loughlin recently formed “PA Young Birders,” Nikon donated 24 pairs of binoculars, and DVOC’s NB4NB donated 8 more pairs. The group has field trips once a month, with 4-16 kids on each trip.

Anita Guris announced that she and Paul would have a DVOC table at the “Cradle of Birding” festival to be held at Tinicum (John Heinz NWR, Philadelphia, PA) this coming weekend. The festival is targeted to kids, and about 1200 people usually come. They will sell binoculars and raffle off a pair.

Paul demonstrated the “Bushhawk,” a kind of gunstock mount for cameras and spotting scopes. It is light, versatile, adjustable, and works with in-line and angled eyepiece scopes. It makes it easy to carry and use a small scope in the field or through a car window when a tripod would be unwieldy. A Bushhawk with a Nikon mini scope together weigh only 3 pounds. Details are on the web at Bushhawk.com. Paul and Anita plan to become dealers.

Paul announced that the Waterbird Society will be holding its annual meeting at Cape May, NJ on Nov. 4-7. In conjunction with the meeting, Paul will be running an 8-hour pelagic trip from Wildwood Crest on an 85-foot boat on Sunday Nov. 8. If there is leftover space, DVOC members can join the trip. Paul encouraged anyone who is interested to get on the waiting list now.

Phil Witmer announced that the Bird Conservation Alliance meeting will be in Washington, DC this November 12. Phil is a member of the Alliance, and will be at the meeting. Anyone who is interested in going is invited to contact Phil.

In response to a question, Frank Windfelder and Phil Witmer discussed population and irruption cycles of Northern Saw-whet Owls, Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Local Notes:

Al Bilheimer recently observed 238 Broad-winged Hawks migrating over his property in Levittown, PA, from 1 to 5 PM one afternoon. There were also numerous Sharp-shinned Hawks and several Bald Eagles.

Linda Rowan was at Great Meadows NWR in Massachusetts with Massachusetts Audubon at the end of August and saw large numbers of Common Nighthawks, over 50 Great Blue Herons, a Common Moorhen, and other good birds. She said that it’s a great place.

Erica Brendel has seen Common Nighthawks between 7:30 and 8:30 practically every evening recently near Carpenter’s Woods in Philadelphia. One evening she saw 6 of them flying quite low.

Win Shafer, who referees soccer games, reported that each night at dusk, when the field lights come on, about 20-30 Common Nighthawks come and feast on the insects attracted to the lights.

Win also gave a very brief report of his through-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He and his son started at the southern end of the trail in Georgia in March, and finished at Mt. Katahdin, Maine, in July. He logged 151 bird species on the trip, and kept state lists as well as a trip list. Sightings were especially interesting since he was hiking during bird migration. He described a wave of migrating Cerulean Warblers, Spruce Grouse, Gray Jays eating out of his hand, and his lifer Bicknell’s Thrush.

Marty Dellwo was at Tinicum last Sunday and saw a good assortment of warblers and a Black Tern. Todd Fellenbaum said that the Black Tern was still there today.

Frank Windfelder saw a surprise bird at Pennypack on the Delaware: a Blue Grosbeak.

Doris McGovern said that preliminary results of the Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas (2004-2008) showed that 16 species have been extirpated as breeding species in Philadelphia since the first atlas in 1984-1989. At least 1 new breeder was recorded in the second atlas: Bald Eagle.

Paul and Anita Guris birded the sod farms in New Jersey this last weekend. Highlights were 3 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, an American Golden Plover, 2 Baird’s Sandpipers, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs standing in an open field.

Rick Mellon did endangered plant species surveys in a powerline cut in the Poconos during June and July. He reported that Chestnut-sided Warbler was far and away the most common bird species he encountered, and Eastern Bluebird was the second most common. He only heard one Brown-headed Cowbird, and he is not even certain of that.

Barbara Granger went to Morocco recently, and saw Eleanora’s Falcons breeding on an island, one of the few sites where they breed. The nesting island is protected and no one is allowed to land; she observed the birds from a boat. Art McMorris gave a brief description of the unusual breeding biology of Eleanora’s Falcons. They nest very late in the year, on coastal cliffs in north Africa, and feast on the waves of migrants crossing the Mediterranean on their way to their wintering grounds in Africa. The falcon nests are crowded together on the cliffs; during the songbird migration, there’s plenty of food for them all.

Main Program:

Frank Windfelder introduced the main speaker, Rich Hoyer, a leader for the tour company Wings, entitled “Beyond Just Birds – Putting it All Together.” On the tours he leads, Rich focuses on more than birds: he also seeks out butterflies and skippers, other insects, snakes, lizards, mammals, spiders, scorpions, wildflowers – pretty much everything that’s out there in the natural world. He described the flora and fauna he has encountered on trips to SE Arizona, Costa Rica, Brazil, Bolivia, Jamaica the Galapagos and Oregon (a trip which included birding and Shakespeare plays), all richly illustrated with his photographs and fascinating insights.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary