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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Martin Selzer

August 21, 2004 (Saturday)
Bombay Hook, DE Part II


The second DVOC trip to Bombay Hook for the southbound shorebird migration was much more successful than our first trip this summer. Although we continued to have lots of rain in the period between the trips, water levels in the refuge were favorable to shorebirds.

Raymond Pool held hundreds and hundreds of various waders including lots of dowitchers; Stilt, Western, Least, Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers; both yellowlegs, and a huge flock of American Avocets. Of course with all those dowitchers to sort through we all tried to find a long-billed among the short-billed and while several birds piqued our interested a definitive identification was not made.

The tide was going out so we had lots of mudflats opposite Shearness Pool and there we had a few Black-bellied Plovers along with lots of the various peeps and larger waders we had already seen in Raymond. In Shearness there was a good-size group of Forster’s and Caspian Terns along with one juvenile Black Skimmer. We also found a few Pectoral Sandpipers here and another white-rumped. Our stop at Bear Swamp yielded Spotted Sandpipers, both Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-herons and a quick look at a Belted Kingfisher.

We then made our way to Port Mahon Road. Just outside of Leipsic Colin spotted two Gull-billed Terns hawking insects over the farm fields so we made our first u-turn of the trip and went back to see these birds. We got to watch as a young bird begged food from its parent who was busily catching insects. We then made another u-turn to go back to our intended destination of Port Mahon. The potato fields along the road, just before the tank farm were being harvested and in the newly plowed furrows we found, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plovers, Least and a Baird’s Sandpiper. There were also a few Horned Larks feeding here. Along the surf-line we had Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling and Willets.

While looking at the birds feeding in the potato field Butch spotted a distantly perched raptor. The most prominent field mark was a strong supercillium stripe above the eye such as one would expect in a Goshawk. However, the bird appeared to be long-winged like a Red-shoulder, not long-tailed like a Goshawk. The breast pattern was of not much help as at that distance all one could tell was that there was no bellyband or strong streaking. The barring/streaking that was there sometimes seems rusty and sometimes no color was discernable. Of course we had all returned to looking at the Baird’s Sandpiper when this mystery bird flew. However, Bert did some research upon our return home and In Wheeler and Clark's "A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors" Page 59 (BW10) There is a picture of a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk taken in PA in August. It looks like our bird. The caption says "Some juveniles have completely unmarked underparts". Location, time of year would strongly suggest that this is what we were looking at.

A return to Raymond Pool to see what birds the incoming tide pushed off the mudflats and into the refuge rewarded us with a Tri-colored heron and about a dozen Black-necked Stilts (our 19the species of shorebird for the day). Unfortunately, no godwits could be found. As the rain was starting to come in the group split up at this point with some folks heading to other obligations at home, some continuing to bird further south and others just looking for a good crab cake at Sambos.

During our visit to the refuge, we also saw/heard Willow Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Bobolinks; Purple Martins, Barn, Tree and bank Swallows; Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks and a handful of butterflies including Monarch, Cloudless Skipper, Least Skipper, Bronze Copper, Black Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Thanks to everyone who came on the trip and helped make it a success!


Images by Bert Filemyr