Voice of the Naturalist

Date: August 15, 2017
Coverage: MD/DC/VA central and southern DE/WV panhandle
Reports/Comments/Questions(Email): voice@anshome.org
Compiler: Gerry Hawkins
Sponsor: Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic states
    (independent of NAS!)
Transcriber: Steve Cordle

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This is the Voice of the Naturalist, a service of the Audubon Naturalist Society. This report covers the week starting Tuesday, August 8 and was completed on Tuesday, August 15 at 1:00 a.m. 

Information on noteworthy birds is presented below in taxonomic order, as set forth in the American Ornithological Society Checklist for North and Middle American Birds, as revised through the 58th Supplement (July 2017).

The top birds this week were WOOD STORK* in VA and NEOTROPIC CORMORANT* in MD.

Other birds of interest this week included TUNDRA SWAN, NORTHERN SHOVELER, GADWALL, SURF and BLACK SCOTERS, RUDDY DUCK, COMMON GALLINULE, AMERICAN AVOCET, MARBLED GODWIT, STILT, BAIRD’S, WHITE-RUMPED and BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, WILSON’S and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, BONAPARTE’S and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, GULL-BILLED and BLACK TERNS, ANHINGA, AMERICAN and LEAST BITTERNS, SNOWY EGRET, LITTLE BLUE and TRICOLORED HERONS, YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, WHITE and GLOSSY IBIS, MISSISSIPPI KITE, BROAD-WINGED HAWK, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, YELLOW-BELLIED and ALDER FLYCATCHERS, PURPLE MARTIN, SEDGE WREN, LARK SPARROW, BLUE-WINGED and MOURNING WARBLERS, SUMMER TANAGER and DICKCISSEL.

TOP BIRDS

On August 8 and 9 a young WOOD STORK* was seen in fields along 1366-1474 Pleasant Ridge Road in Virginia Beach, VA, and on August 11 this bird was relocated along Muddy Creek Road about one-half mile north of the intersection with Pleasant Ridge Road and then seen again along Pleasant Ridge Road on August 12-14. Another WOOD STORK reportedly visited a private property in Northampton Co, VA on August 8. These and other recent sightings in and outside the reporting area suggest that birders should be on the lookout for Florida wetland species in the coming weeks.  

A continuing NEOTROPIC CORMORANT* was seen at several proximate locations in Calvert Co, MD: the North Beach marsh on August 10, Chesapeake Beach Marina on August 11, Chesapeake Beach Veterans Memorial Park on August 12 and North Beach from the north end of Atlantic Avenue on August 13.

OTHER BIRDS OF INTEREST

Two continuing TUNDRA SWANS were seen at Hurlock WWTP in Dorchester Co, MD on August 8. A TUNDRA SWAN also was reported at James River SP in Buckingham Co, VA on August 9.

Waterfowl also included small numbers of several migratory duck species. These included three NORTHERN SHOVELERS and a RUDDY DUCK at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE on August 12; two continuing GADWALL at Hart-Miller Island in Baltimore Co, MD on August 9 and 14; two continuing SURF SCOTERS at Big Water Farm (private) in Queen Anne’s Co, MD on August 10; a continuing BLACK SCOTER at the North Beach marsh in Calvert Co, MD on August 9-14 and at the Ocean City Inlet in Worcester Co, MD on August 11; and two RUDDY DUCKS at a pond near the end of Discovery Boulevard in Prince William Co, VA on August 12 and 14.

A high of five juvenile COMMON GALLINULES were seen at Hart-Miller Island in Baltimore Co, MD on August 9 and 14, and one COMMON GALLINULE was seen at Perryville Community Park in Cecil Co, MD on August 12.

High numbers of AMERICAN AVOCETS continue at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE and the Craney Island Disposal Area (restricted access) in Portsmouth, VA, with a high of 120 and 200 individuals reported at these respective locations on August 13 and 11, respectively. Sightings of AMERICAN AVOCETS also included a high of 23 individuals at Prime Hook NWR, Sussex Co, DE on August 11, 13 and 14; eight individuals at Hart-Miller Island, Baltimore Co, MD on August 9; two individuals at Lake Habib in Rocky Gap SP, Allegany Co, MD on August 10; and a single continuing individual on Hog Island in Surry Co, VA on August 9.

Shorebird highlights also included a high of three MARBLED GODWITS seen at Chincoteague NWR in Accomack Co, VA on August 9 and 11, and one MARBLED GODWIT photographed along Franklin and Strawberry Banks Boulevards in Hampton, VA on August 13 and 14. Migratory STILT SANDPIPERS were seen at several locations, with a high of 21 individuals at Swan Creek Wetland-Cox Creek (restricted access) in Anne Arundel Co, MD on August 8 and 9; 20 individuals at the Craney Island Disposal Area (restricted access) in Portsmouth, VA on August 11; and a high of 19 individuals at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE on August 8, 12 and 13. An early BAIRD’S SANDPIPER was found along Whitehall Neck Road in Kent Co, DE on August 9. Sightings of the similar WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER included 1-2 individuals at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE on August 10 and 13; one individual at Prime Hook NWR, Sussex Co, DE on August 14; a high of seven individuals at Swan Creek Wetland-Cox Creek (restricted access) in Anne Arundel Co, MD on August 8 and 10; one individual at Assateague Island NS, Worcester Co, MD on August 11; one individual at the Central Sod Farms-John Brown Road in Queen Anne’s Co, MD on August 10, 11 and 14; and three individuals at the Craney Island Disposal Area (restricted access) in Portsmouth, VA on August 11. On August 8 an early BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was found at the Oakwood Turf Farm-Taylor Road in Wicomico Co, MD. On August 9 an inland juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER was identified at the C & O Canal-North Branch in Allegany Co, MD. Ten WILSON’S PHALAROPES and three RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were counted at the Craney Island Disposal Area (restricted access) in Portsmouth, VA on August 11. In addition, a single WILSON’S PHALAROPE was photographed at the Riverside Turf Farm in Charles City Co, VA on August 9.  

A BONAPARTE’S GULL was seen again at Swan Creek Wetland-Cox Creek (restricted access) in Anne Arundel Co, MD on August 8-10 and at Tydings Memorial Park in Harford Co, MD on August 10. On August 9 a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen again at the Chesapeake Beach Marina in Calvert Co, MD.

On August 11-13 a high of four GULL-BILLED TERNS, which included a juvenile, were seen at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE. GULL-BILLED TERNS also were seen at several locations in the Virginia eastern coastal plain, where they regularly breed, but the only multiple reports were two individuals at the Craney Island Disposal Area (restricted access) in Portsmouth on August 11 and a high of four individuals at Tom’s Creek and nearby Smith Island in Northampton Co, VA on August 13.

Small numbers of BLACK TERNS were seen at several locations in the reporting area. Multiple sightings in Maryland included a high of six individuals reported at Violette’s Lock on the C & O Canal in Montgomery Co on August 11; two individuals at Perryville Community Park in Cecil Co on August 11; three individuals at Oakwood Turf Farm-Hampshire Road in Wicomico Co on August 12; and two individuals at Morgantown in Charles Co on August 13. On August 11 and 12 two BLACK TERNS were seen over DC waters from locations on the Alexandria, VA waterfront. Reports of BLACK TERNS in Virginia included two individuals at Algonkian Nature Park in Loudoun Co on August 11; one individual at the Route 701 ramp area in Briery Creek WMA, Prince Edward Co on August 8; two individuals at the Staunton View Public Use Area in Mecklenburg Co on August 12; seven individuals at Leonard’s Pond in Rockingham Co on August 11; and one individual at Dyke Marsh WP in Fairfax Co on August 12 and 13.

On August 13 an ANHINGA* was photographed at Chamberlayne Swamp in Hanover Co, VA.

On August 14 an AMERICAN BITTERN was reported along Raymond Neck Road at Bombay Hook NWR, Kent Co, DE. Encounters with the elusive LEAST BITTERN included a continuing individual at Hughes Hollow in Montgomery Co, MD on August 8.

Inland herons and egrets included a continuing SNOWY EGRET at Violette’s Lock on the C & O Canal in Montgomery Co, MD on August 9; a continuing LITTLE BLUE HERON at College Lake on the Lynchburg College campus in Lynchburg, VA on August 8 and 12; and an adult YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON photographed at Borden’s Spring in Clarke Co, VA on August 13 and 14, which is an apparent first record for this county. A continuing TRICOLORED HERON was seen at several locations in Maryland: Swan Creek Wetland-Cox Creek (restricted access) in Anne Arundel Co on August 8-11; the North Beach marsh in Calvert Co on August 8, 10 and 13; and the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (Horsehead) in Queen Anne’s Co on August 9 and 13.  

Inland sightings of WHITE IBIS included a high of three continuing individuals at College Lake on the campus of Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, VA on August 8 and 12; a continuing individual at Green Mountain Lake in Greene Co, VA on August 11; and four continuing individuals at the Staunton View Public Use Area in Mecklenburg Co, VA on August 12. Inland, two GLOSSY IBIS were seen flying up the Potomac River and landing in Loudoun Co, VA from Violette’s Lock on the C & O Canal in Montgomery Co, MD on August 9, and on August 14 two GLOSSY IBIS were observed flying over Remount Road in Front Royal, VA. An inland GLOSSY IBIS also was seen at the Patton Turf Farm in Montgomery Co, MD on August 13.

During the week birders enjoyed watching a recent fledgling MISSISSIPPI KITE perched in and near its nest and its parents at a location near Monticello Park in Alexandria, VA. These appear to be the most northern breeding MISSISSIPPI KITES in the reporting area this year. Noteworthy raptors during the week also included a small number of early migrating BROAD-WINGED HAWKS at several locations in Virginia and Maryland and at a couple of locations just outside the reporting area in New Castle Co, DE.   

A family of four RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS was observed as far north as Big Stone Beach Road in the Milford Neck Wildlife Area, Kent Co, DE on August 9.

On August 14 the long-time compiler of migratory birds at Monticello Park in Alexandria, VA reported an early YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER that was seen and heard. Early migratory Empids also included an ALDER FLYCATCHER seen and heard on Hart-Miller Island in Baltimore Co, MD on August 9.

Large numbers of migrating PURPLE MARTINS continue to be seen in Winchester, VA, with an estimated 3,000 individuals at a roost near the end of Covington Lane on August 8-10, 12 and 13, and an estimated 1,000 individuals perched on utility wires at the intersection of Marple and Bethel Grange Roads on August 8.

On August 11 a SEDGE WREN was reported at Swan Creek Wetland-Cox Creek (restricted access) in Anne Arundel Co, MD.

On August 10 a LARK SPARROW was spotted on a wire at 30355 Seaside Road in Northampton Co, VA.

Migratory warblers continued to trickle into the reporting area. Highlights included a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER found along Schwaninger and Piney Hill Roads in Talbot Co, MD on August 9 and 10, respectively, and at Patuxent Research Refuge-Central Tract (private) in Prince George’s Co, MD on August 11. Noteworthy sightings of migratory warblers also included a MOURNING WARBLER at Swan Creek Wetland-Cox Creek (restricted access) in Anne Arundel Co, MD on August 8, Cromwell Valley Park in Baltimore Co, MD on August 10-13 and along Oak Road in Charles Co, MD on August 13.

A continuing SUMMER TANAGER was encountered near Blockhouse Point on the C & O Canal-Violette’s Lock in Montgomery Co, MD on August 9, 11 and 13.

DICKCISSELS continue in the Underwood Road area in Howard Co, MD, with a high of three individuals seen on August 10, 13 and 14, and at various other locations in the reporting area.

***

This week's report was based on reports on the DE, MD, VA, and WV list servers, eBirds records and various birding pages on Facebook.

The Audubon Naturalist Shop (301-652-3606, https://anshome.org/naturalist-shop) is an excellent source for guidebooks and many other nature-related titles.

To report bird sightings, e-mail your report to voice@anshome.org.

Please post reports before midnight Monday, identify the county as well as the state, and include your name and a Tuesday morning contact, e-mail or phone.

Thank you for your interest, and enjoy the birds.

*Of interest to the applicable state records committee