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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Martin Selzer

February 25, 2006 (Saturday)
Indian River Inlet North, DE

A dozen club members and friends joined me for our field trip to Indian River Inlet, Delaware. The wind was blowing (isn’t it always at the inlet), the sun was shining (making the wind a bit more tolerable) and the tide was rushing out. In all my visits to Indian River, outgoing or incoming tides seem to be the most productive. While I would like to claim that I planned the trip according to the tides, those of you who know me well, would know that was a lie.

This winter hundreds of surf and black scoter have been frequenting the jetties of the inlet and we were not disappointed as they were still there. Common and red-throated loons, long-tailed ducks and brant were also seen in the surf around the jetties and northern gannets were seen offshore. Although the numbers of all these species seemed reduced from the previous week, they were still plentiful. Missing from the previous week were the lone harlequin duck and pair of razorbills. Oh well, win a few, lose a few. Both jetties held small numbers of ruddy turnstones while a lone purple sandpiper was spotted on the south jetty. Two great cormorants were on the south jetty tower. As we returned to our cars, a harbor seal was seen in the channel.

A quick scan of Rehoboth Bay as we made our way to Silver Lake yielded lesser scaup and common goldeneyes. Silver Lake held 100s of canvasbacks, bunches of ruddy ducks, mallards and black ducks and a single redhead. After making sure everyone saw the redhead well, we made a move to Cape Henlopen State Park (CHSP). The feeders at the nature center were quiet, (only a couple of chickadees and goldfinches were there and no brown-headed nuthatches at all) as was Herring Point. A lone Bonaparte’s gull was the highlight at CHSP before we kept moving north.

Prime Hook, NWR and Broadkill Beach were our next stop. The best birds of these areas were two white-crowned sparrows and a male purple finch at the feeders by the nature center and a covey of northern bobwhites that we scared up behind the nature center. Our next stop heading north was Ted Harvey, WMA were we missed the Eurasian widgeon but we did have American coot, American widgeon, northern pintail, northern shoveler and gadwall in the north pool.

Our last stop of the day was along Cartanza Road where the challenge this winter has been finding the Lapland longspurs and snow buntings amongst the flock of horned larks. We were very fortunate. The large flock of larks was relatively close to the road, no more than 50 yards and perfectly lit. We scanned the larks and were lucky enough to have a snow bunting appear right next to a strategically discarded aluminum can. I found the bunting first and using the can as a reference point was able to get everyone on the trip on to the bunting. As you know, one tuft of earth looks like any other in these fields so having a single, obvious landmark, as this piece of garbage was a huge help. We continued scanning the flock when Frank called out, “in front of the can, Lapland longspur”. And darn it if he wasn’t correct! This bird was well on his way to breeding plumage and again thanks to the can, everyone saw it. Realizing, that it was not only getting late in the day but that we really would be hard pressed to finish the trip on a better note, we called it a day.

Species List

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Tundra Swan
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Lesser Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Black Scoter
Surf Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Northern Bobwhite
American Coot
Ruddy Turnstone
Purple Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
American Herring Gull
Bonaparte's Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Horned Lark
Northern Mockingbird
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
Purple Finch
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Boat-tailed Grackle
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird

Images by Bert Filemyr