Main DVOC Page > Publications > Larus > Fall 2004 Bonus Material > Highlights from the 2004 Bear Swamp Journal

Highlights from the 2004 Bear Swamp Journal

By Augie Sexuer

This is the full text of the article "Highlights from the 2004 Bear Swamp Journal" published in the Fall 2004 Larus.


If we but take the time, the flow of life in Bear Swamp can delight us in many ways. The first couple of weeks in April were spent clearing trails and checking conditions of nest boxes before the highly anticipated arrival of the Prothonotary Warblers. This is the time of year when I get overly anxious for the first sight of this beautiful migrant that travels from so far.

On April 10, Don Jones, Al Driscoll and I encountered a flock of Rusty Blackbirds at the bridge where we meet. While checking boxes we recorded the first Louisiana Waterthrush. On April 17 Emily Kingsbury and Susan Slim heard the first Prothonotary of the season. On the same day while checking more boxes we found that Box #4’s pole had rusted and the box was lying in the mud, quite waterlogged but intact. It was cleaned and laid out on the bank to dry out.

On April 21, after replacing Box #4 with a new pole, I climbed up on the bank and looked back. Immediately there was a beautiful male Golden Swamp Warbler perched on the roof of the box less than 10 feet away. (I sometimes use the name Golden Swamp Warbler as it is the only way to describe the brilliant color of the male.) The bird may have been watching me as I erected the box and, as he was not singing, I did not know he was in the area. This made his sudden appearance on the box all the more striking.

He was a very vibrant young, unbanded male who proceeded to examine the box very thoroughly, leaning over the edge of the roof, while checking all sides. He then entered the box and, after a short while, flew off downstream, leaving me with many questions. What made him come in so quickly when I was so close? Was he a bird fledged from one of our boxes last year? I like to think so! Note: this box did not show any sign of a nest this year. Such is the flow of life.

As the season progressed, and we monitored the boxes each week, we delighted in many memorable sightings as the stream and life within the wooded swamp flowed steadily on, always changing. On a club trip, we caught sight of a Black-and-white Warbler carrying deer hair. This led to the discovery of his nest on the ground beside the trail. Another time we enjoyed a close look at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo preening in the early morning sunlight. Also a Hooded Warbler’s nest with four young was found. There were many more sightings too numerous to mention.

July 7 was our last check of the 12 nest boxes. Final results: 10 nest starts, 2 were second broods; 43 eggs laid, 30 young fledged. This was much better than the previous three years.

We were fortunate that the nesting season was over when the thousand year storm hit this area on July 12. There was very little damage long Little Creek and Miry Run thanks to the vast 3000 acre heavily wooded forest that comprises Bear Swamp. This area was able to absorb the sudden impact of 13 inches of rain in one day. Bear Swamp is a great living example of why we need to protect the natural environment. The water did flow very high in both streams, but only one box was lost on Little Creek, and on box on Miry Run was lifted off its pole and recovered downstream. I estimated the water to be five feet higher than normal.


Main DVOC Page > Publications > Larus > Fall 2004 Bonus Material > Highlights from the 2004 Bear Swamp Journal