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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Martin Selzer

February 26, 2005 (Saturday)
Indian River Inlet North, DE

Twelve DVOC members and friends participated in our field trip to southern Delaware. After meeting at the Super Wawa on Route 1 south of Lewes we car caravanned to the Indian River Inlet and started birding from the north jetty. An in-coming or outgoing tide create the best conditions for birding at the inlet and we were fortunate to have arrived as the tide was coming in. In the rips feeding off the edge of the jetties were numerous Surf Scoters and a few Black Scoters, Common Loons and 2 or 3 Red-throated Loons. On the jetties was a small flock of Purple Sandpipers and a few Sanderlings. Also in the breaking surf were a few small groups of Long-tail Ducks (Oldsquaw). Further up the beach a group of Bonaparte’s Gulls foraged in amongst the Herring, Ring-billed and Great Black-backed Gulls. We continued to scan the breaking waves in hopes of something else when a White-winged Scoter took to the wing and flew across the inlet giving everyone their third scoter for the day. We also had a few Surfs in the channel that allowed us great views. Another scan of the surf-line, revealed a young male Harlequin Duck. He was cooperative enough to stay near two Surf Scoters that served as reference points so that everyone could find him.

We then made a quick stop at the marina before heading off to Silver Lake in Rehoboth. The lake held a good size flock of Canvasbacks, many Mallards, several Ruddy Ducks, 3 to 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and another Red-throated Loon. In spite of several passes through the Canvasback flock, we could not come up with the Redhead that has been reported here. We then headed off to Cape Henlopen State Park and the Seaside Nature Center home to some of the most cooperative Brown-headed Nuthatches known. Within a short time watching the feeders, we had both Red-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches, Carolina Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows. We then headed to Herring Point to scan the bay and have lunch with a scenic, birdy spot.

Unfortunately, four human surfers were trying their luck in the waves so the flock of scoters was not as close as they sometimes are and there were no gulls in the surf. While the majority of the scoters were Surf we had a lot more Black Scoters here than we did at the inlet. We scanned for the reported young male Common Eider without luck and decided to have our lunch here so we could keep scanning the surf. As we were finishing our lunches, three female Common Eiders were found just off the jetty below the point overlook. Did they fly in? Did they swim out from behind the jetty? No one was sure because one moment they weren’t there and the next they were. Fortunately everyone was able to get on the eiders before they decided to take to the wing and head towards the breakers at the ferry terminal.

We continued heading north and made Broadkill Beach and the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge our next stop. As we turned off of Route 1 onto Route 16 a Black Vulture circled low over the fields. The pools at Broadkill Beach were rather empty except for our first Northern Pintails that were close to the road and distant Green-winged Teal, Northern Harrier and a very distant young Bald Eagle. As we neared the Prime Hook Refuge Headquarters we had lots of Turkey Vultures soaring in the earlier afternoon thermals along with two adult Bald Eagles and a Red-tailed Hawk. On the power lines an American Kestrel perched when not hunting in the fields. On the feeders outside the headquarters several American Goldfinches fed and in the wet woods behind Rusty Blackbirds called. We could never find the blackbirds but on our return to the feeders found a White-crowned Sparrow. A walk on the boardwalk trail yielded Eastern Towhee, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher and Carolina Wren. Back at the headquarters we got a second look at the White-crowned Sparrow.

Next on our return north was a trip into the north pool at Ted Harvey Wildlife Management Area. Although they were at least two-thirds across the pool, we were able to scan the flock of Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, and Gadwall to find a drake Eurasian Wigeon. Also in this flock were 6 Ring-necked Ducks and a few Red-breasted Mergansers. A quick stop at Port Mahon Road turned up a few Northern Harriers and nothing else. Our last stop was along Cartanza Road where we found good numbers of Horned Larks and a large flock of Snow Geese. At this point some of the group had to head home while the rest of the group went for a late afternoon visit to Bombay Hook.

Thanks to all for joining us on the late winter trip to southern Delaware.

Martin Selzer
Field Trip Leader

Images by Bert Filemyr