Monday, October 21, 2013

Mt. Pleasant Farm Bird Walk

White-crowned Sparrow - photo by Kye Jenkins

Participants in today's Chesapeake Audubon field trip to the beautiful Mt. Pleasant Farm in Howard County had a great time--getting over 50 species. The trip can be divided into 3 parts: the first part on the west side was very birdy, with such highlights as Palm Warbler (30+), White-Crowned Sparrow (3), Sharp-Shinned, Cooper's, Wilson's Snipe (2, flyover), Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, and Winter Wren. The 2nd part, in the middle below along the creek, was very very slow. But the last part, on the upper side of the strip of woods on the east side, was very birdy again, with such highlights as Blue-Headed Vireo (2), Junco (2), and Lincoln's Sparrow (1, ditch, upper side of woods strip).  Lots of both Kinglets. 9 sparrow species in all. Cedar Waxwings.

All Good Birding,

Tim Houghton
(Glen Arm)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Soldier's Delight Bird Walk

Eleven participants in a Chesapeake Audubon field trip experienced the surprise and pleasure of watching a SANDHILL CRANE as it flew east across the power cut as we watched from the south side of Serpentine (white) Trail. 

The birding overall was somewhat slow, but we managed to hit a nice pocket in the more varied bushy and wooded strip at the bottom. We enjoyed the active and singing Pine Warblers, as well as Black-Throated Green, Redstart, and other warblers. Good looks at a Pileated Woodpecker and at a Broad-Winged and a Red-Shouldered Hawk flying near each other. Also Yellow-Throated and White-Eyed Vireos.

Pine Warbler

Very enjoyable walk in a unique environment.
Tim Houghton

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cromwell Valley Park Bird Walk

Fall migration is in full swing and Kye Jenkins led us on a terrific bird walk this morning.  Photos by Fred Brundick.

Catbirds were seen eating berries from Dogwoods and Pokeberries.

Looking for one of the many Red-eyed Vireos feeding and occasionally singing.
Many Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were seen.

Cromwell Valley has an extensive Bluebird trail that is monitored by volunteers.  Numerous adults and first year birds were seen.
Kye is in the lead here.  The back woods were quiet, but we did see Blue Jays, a Downy Woodpecker, and Carolina Wrens.
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Wingstem was blooming on both sides of the trails.  It is a member of the Aster family, and an important plant for bees.

We also noted many beautiful spiders and their webs, including this Garden Spider.
 Other birds seen include Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Robin, Chipping Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse.   Other birders in the area reported Magnolia and Black-throated Green Warblers. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wildflowers and Birds by Kayak at Bosely Conservancy

August 4, 2013

My favorite field trip of the year - a dozen of us enjoyed a slow paddle through the channels at Bosely Conservancy as we viewed the many wetland wildflowers and enjoyed the birds along the way.  Bosely is located in Edgewood (Harford Cnty), and is a freshwater tidal marsh owned by the Izaac Walton League.

Swamp Milkweed, Green-headed Coneflower, and Goldenrod.

Swamp Milkweed and Jewelweed

Surrounded by Green-headed Coneflower

Marsh Hibiscus

Bosely is a haven for Wood-ducks.

Canada Geese

Bald Eagle.  Other birds spotted include Osprey, Red-winged Blackbird, Wood Duck, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Forster's Tern, American Goldfinch, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Double-crested Cormorant,  Lesser Yellowlegs,  Turkey Vulture, Common Yellowthroat, and Indigo Bunting.

Many thanks to Kim and the staff of  Anita Leight Estuary for helping organize this fun trip.  Please visit their website at, and be sure to join us next year!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Patterson Park Friday Bird Walk

A walk in Patterson Park was a perfect way to start the day.  The sun was shining, the air was cool, and dozens of Chimney Swifts were circling above our heads.  The usual number of robins were plucking worms from the ground as we began our trek to the pond.  Erin, an educator for Patterson Park Audubon, spotted what she thought was a hummingbird, but it turned out to be a spectacular Pandorus Sphinx Moth:

Further down the path, we heard and spotted Mockingbirds, House Wrens, Great-crested Flycatchers, Osprey, Double-crested Cormorant, House Finches, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

We were thrilled to see a Caspian Tern before we reached the pond.  It was actively fishing and we saw it dive and catch a nice sized fish.  The Mallards were in various stages of molt, and the Muscovy ducklings were much bigger and seemed to have a lot of mallard characteristics.

At the pond a Green Heron was feeding on the lily pads, and we noticed a Spotted Sandpiper refueling during its southward migration.  

Marsh Hibiscus were in bloom along the boardwalk and we then headed for the pollinator garden and finished the walk at the wetland garden.


Bird walks are scheduled at Patterson Park the last Saturday of the month, and the 2nd Friday.  Check schedules on Patterson Park Audubon or Chesapeake Audubon's website.  Don't miss September migration!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Birding and Canoe Trip at Pickering Creek Audubon Center

Unlike the last two times we tried to plan a canoe trip at Pickering, the rain stayed away and we had a terrific time.  We started out walking the trail to the wetland overlook where we spotted Eastern Bluebirds, Song Sparrows, a Bald Eagle, Mockingbird, many Killdeer and Tree Swallows.  A Great Blue Heron and Great Egret were in the first pond, and we passed many dragonflies and butterflies.

Common Wood-nymph

Black Swallowtails
From the wetland overlook, we saw Least and Forster's Terns, Mallards, Canada Geese, and a Bobwhite loudly called out from the grasses. 

Time to launch the canoes!  The water was calm, and we slowly paddled around Pickering Creek observing the many grasses and tree skeletons that sometimes hid the numerous Great Blue Herons.

At times we would paddle right next to a Great Blue Heron without realizing it.  We also observed a Green Heron, Barn Swallows, Turkey and Black Vultures, and an Eastern Kingbird.

Samantha enjoying the quiet waters

One of the two Ospreys that kept circling us. 
Pickering Creek Audubon Center is located in Easton on the Eastern Shore, and has 400 acres of mature hardwood forest, fresh and brackish marshes, meadows, and tidal and non tidal wetlands.  It is open every day of the year and is free!  There is a canoe/kayak launch area, and many trails for birding and hiking - it's great place for families to explore together.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Patterson Park Friday Bird Walk

No one showed up for the walk this AM due to the rain, but since I had driven all that way - I decided to walk the "route" and see what I could find in this beautiful urban park.  Swifts were already soaring overhead,  Mockers were scolding, and numerous juvenile and adult Robins were pulling up worms left and right.  As I headed down to the pond, I spotted an Eastern Phoebe, House Wren, and the usual pesky Starlings.
The famous Boat Lake.
A Red-winged Blackbird taking shelter.

A bad picture, but the 4 Moscovy ducklings are much bigger, and actually look like gigantic Mallard ducklings.   The best birds of the day were 3 adult and one juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons!

Some scenes from the butterfly and wetland gardens:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Patterson Park Saturday Bird Walk

Patterson Park Audubon's first walk of the summer was led by volunteer Mike Hudson.  It was a beautiful morning and well attended by regular and new visitors from all ages.  As usual, Mike taught us interesting facts about all the birds we found.  Mike is mentioned in the book Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, by Phillip Hoose - a very good read about a banded rufa Red Knot that has flown the distance to the moon and halfway back.

On our way down to the Boat Lake, we noticed a House Wren family in the community garden, Great-crested Flycatcher, Chimney Swift, adullt and fledged Robins, an Osprey being chased by an Eastern Kingbird, a Northern Mockingbird perched on top of the Pagoda, and Barn Swallows.
At the Boat Lake, we immediately noticed a sleeping Black-crowned Night Heron.  Muscovy ducklings were hiding in the shadows - it will be interesting to see what they'll look like as adults, since one of the parents is white, the other black.  Red-winged Blackbirds were fighting for territory.  We also noticed Catbirds, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and molting Mallards. 

The boardwalk at the lake
Patterson Park Audubon's volunteers have been working hard on expanding the native gardens.  Upcoming volunteers dates are July 9, August 3, and Sept. 7th.  Look on our website for details.  The next Patterson Park bird walk will be held on Friday, July 12th at 8AM.  See you there! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Patapsco - McKeldin Area

Headed by Tim Houghton, CAS is monitoring this MD/DC Audubon IBA area for Cerulean Warblers and Wood Thrush, both species of concern along the Atlantic Flyway.  According to National Audubon, the Wood Thrush population has been declining about two percent a year since the mid-1960's mostly due to habitat loss on both its breeding and wintering grounds.
Wood Thrush - picture from Wikipedia
Tim Houghton (left) and Kevin McCahill documenting the location of a bird.
Spiderwort was blooming and was quite plentiful in areas.

Other birds spotted:
Yellow-throated Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
American Redstart
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Parula
Swainson's Thrush
Wild Turkey
Red-eyed Vireo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Scarlet Tanager

We would like to acknowledge Christine Holzmueller and Norm and Karen Meadow for the donation of 2 GPS units to assist with this project.

Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Oriole Day at Cromwell Valley Park

To celebrate the return of the Orioles, Cromwell Valley Park invited adults and children alike to participate in bird and nature walks, games, and exhibits.  The rain stayed away for us as we spotted Baltimore and Orchard Oriole nests and birds, and much more.

People of all ages came to participate in the event.  You can see Hugh Simmons in the background with a Great-horned Owl from  Phoenix Wildlife Center.

Richard Schurmann helped represent our table.

Joanne spoke to people about the Eastern Bluebirds and other wildlife that can be found at Cromwell Valley.

The Wild Bird Center is always a wecome sight at Oriole Day.
Phoenix Wildlife Center also brought a Terrapin and Black Vulture.

The Herp Atlas folks.

Baltimore Bird Club and Lights Out Baltimore

Robin Schless helped kids create colorful hummingbird mobiles.

An eagle's nest grew much bigger.... the event progressed.

Kids learned about the many dangers migrating birds encounter as they played the popular migratory bird game.
Thanks again to Justine Schaeffer, a naturalist at Cromwell Valley, her staff and volunteers, for organizing such a fun event.  Plan on spending the morning with us in 2014!