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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Visitors from far afield!

I see Canada Geese every day. Perhaps, like me, you assume that the flock you see at a given location is comprised of the same individuals. After all, how can you tell one goose from another? Still, I make it a point to look through the flock for any bird that stands out due to size or coloration or better yet, a band. On Friday, as I drove into Haverford College, two pieces of metal gleamed in the sunlight from the legs of two geese at the edge of the flock. I grabbed the scope, my assistant herder, Kristen, and spent 45 minutes before successfully reading the numbers on the bands of the two birds who were clearly in each other’s company. Because the band numbers were only 15 digits apart, I knew they had been banded together. I entered the numbers into the site and was immediately rewarded:

Band Number: 0998-46285 Species: CANADA GOOSE

Date banded: 08/02/2007



Band Number: 0998-46270 Species: CANADA GOOSE

Date banded: 08/02/2007



Wow! This must be a mated pair. A quick Google search revealed the location of the banding, about as far north on land as you could go, right up to the Labrador Sea. How cool! This pair, now at least 6 years old, really were Canadian. They tended to the edge of the flock. Were they just visiting and associating with a group of local birds? Was the entire flock from elsewhere? How long had these two been with the campus birds? So many more questions had to go unanswered.

Saturday, the weather was nice and too many human visitors roamed the campus. The geese spent most of their time in the water: no exposed legs for me to read. In the quiet of Sunday morning, the flock was once again on the lawn. I spied the two banded birds at the perimeter and then started searching through the remaining geese. Hooray; another one with a band! After nearly an hour of study, with the aid of one herding child, I had read the complete number of the upside-down band. The four-digit prefix hinted at a different origin. Back to technology for an answer:

Band Number: 1028-75828 Species: CANADA GOOSE

Date banded: 06/26/2006



Arkansas! Who would have thought? Two visitors from the north and now one with a southern drawl . . . in the same flock. This individual was not associating with any other banded bird, but, again, was more at the edge than in the middle of the flock. It did, however, work its way in two or three deep at times. I had barely written the number down and motioned to Kristen to come back toward me when loud honking filled the air. I turned to look at what was exciting the geese and spotted an adult Bald Eagle coming in over the pond, just above the treetops. The geese erupted in a whir of wings and headed straight for the safety of the pond. I guess they figured an eagle would be less likely to grab a goose from the water. The eagle turned and soared overhead, surveying the scene, then drifted off toward my house. By the time I had carried the scope down the street, it was circling over my yard, and a beautiful adult it was! I wondered where it had come from. It had abruptly ended my goose-watching, but I’ll be out looking another day, hoping to get some photos of banded geese, and perhaps find yet another visitor from far afield.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Glen Providence Park Big Year

     As a reminder to everyone, this year the Friends of Glen Providence Park are conducting a big year effort in the park to find how many species can be seen during 2012.  So far we have counted 34 species. To help out with that project, and to introduce people to the park,  I have volunteered to lead a bird walk at Glen Providence Park on Sunday, February 5, 2012. You can see the friends website with the details at . Please come out and help support this effort. After the walk in the park I will also be going to Middletown Township Memorial Park also in Media for an add on bird walk. 
Hoping for something good!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Winner Is . . ..

. . . . Carl Perretta . . . congratulations! Thanks to all who participated in our bird quiz, Ornithology for Olympiads, at the January BCDC meeting. I'm sorry the program ran long, but at least the system seemed to work well. You were a good group of guinea "fowl." (?) The top five finishers in order were: Carl, Al Guarente, Alice Sevareid, Nick Pulcinella and the Roache Team. If you would like to know how you did, email me and I can look up the percent correct associated with your clicker. Hope you had fun and thanks to all who brought food. See you next month.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New's Year Day Field Trip with BCDC

Snow Buntings at Indian River Inlet
     What a good day to go birding. The weather was great. Sunny with just a little chill in the air to remind us that winter is here. We started as usual with a stop at Port Mahon Rd and quickly found a Short-eared Owl and heard a Great Horned Owl hooting. I didn't want to waste too much time here so we headed down to Fowlers Beach which is the northern part of Prime Hook Refuge. We were able to get Dunlins, Black-bellied Plovers, Greater Scaups, Red-throated Loon, Bald Eagles and about 50,000 Snow Geese.
A Small Part of 50,000 Snow Geese
      Our next stop was Indian River inlet. This is the stop that I look forward to the most. Although we came up short here on rarities we did have lots of Bonaparte's Gull, Boat-tailed Grackles, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Purple Sandpipers and Surf Scoters. At Silver Lake we found the usual 1000 Canvasbacks and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
Canvasback at Silver Lake

      This year we added 11 new species that we have never seen on this trip before. I think that is quite remarkable. One of those birds was at the Cape Henlopen nature center. We stopped there to look for Brown-headed Nuthatch which we eventually did find along with about 100 Snow Bunting across the street in the field.

       While searching for the nuthatch we spotted a white bird in the bush behind the feeder. It turned out to be a House Finch that was almost pure white. But before we saw the white House Finch one of the first birds that appeared at the feeder was a Dickcissel. This was probably the best of the new birds added this year and is pictured below. By the way all photos were taken by Nick & Sharon Pulcinella.
        After Cape Henlopen we went up to Broadkill Beach and found several more thousand Snow Geese and finally found a Ross's Goose among that flock. We could not find a Greater White-fronted Goose that was suppose to be in the vicinity. On Prime Hook Rd we added more new birds never seen on this trip before. We had American Avocets, Dowitchers and two male Eurasian Wigeons. We ended the trip with 82 species making our twelve year average 80.3 species, so we finished a little above average.We had thirteen participants this year.