Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
Volume 52 | Number 3 | November 2020
Next DOS member meeting: November 18th!
Letter from the President
Rarity season is in full swing and cooler weather is here. I hope everyone gets out birding as much as possible!
Fundamentally, the mission of DOS is to facilitate a community of birders and ornithologists interested in the birdlife of Delaware. The easiest way to do that is at gatherings like meetings, field trips, picnics, and events. Since none of those are possible right now, these are challenging times for organizations like DOS.
I think our monthly meetings on Zoom are working well. I miss the face-to-face interactions with people, but I don’t miss driving home from Ashland on a winter night! If you have not joined one of our Zoom meetings yet, I encourage you to give it a try. It is easy and enjoyable and allows you to connect virtually with other members. Zoom and similar platforms have been such a vital technology during the pandemic, allowing people to stay connected and for organizations, businesses, and schools to function. I don’t know how we would have fared during this without them.
It would be great to find other ways to engage with each other and we could use your ideas and your help. There are lots of other things we could be doing. However, since joining the DOS leadership team a couple of years ago, I have been blown away by the dedication and hard work of the entire team of volunteers that leads DOS. But these people are already overworked sustaining the DOS multifaceted mission, and it is hard to ask them to do more. We have talked about things like virtual field trips, identification videos, bird quizzes, Zoom meet and greets, eBird tutorials and others, but we just don’t have the people in many cases to deliver these.
We would love to hear your ideas for other things we could be doing to engage with each other. We would love it even more if you would be willing to take charge and make it happen! We can help you use Zoom or post videos to our Vimeo channel. Email me at [email protected]. Also, we are still looking for a new treasurer. Email me if you are interested or know someone who might be.
-Mike Moore, DOS President
Please Renew your Membership Now
We know that times are tough for many of you, but if you can continue your support, we would be very grateful.
Ultimate Winter Finch Primer
Get to know DOS member Scott Northey!
DOS welcomes Scott Northey to DOS Council in 2020! Scott will serve a three-year term as a Council Member-at-Large. Prior to joining Council, Scott played an instrumental role in working with DOS leadership on a successful grant application through his employer, Chemours, which has the potential to award over $100,000 towards DOS initiatives such as youth birding, the annual Wilmington Falcon Watch, and the Delaware Bird-A-Thon. Scott is an Environmental Compliance and Strategy Manager at Chemours’ Chambers Works Facility in Deepwater, NJ. He has spent almost 30 years working in the environmental field in the areas of chemical manufacturing, regulatory compliance, remediation, and sustainability. Scott has been married for 25 years to his wife Maureen, and has two children: Ryan, a senior at the University of Delaware, and Maggie, a high school senior attending the Joffery School of Ballet in NYC.
How long have you been a DOS member? About 4 years.
What is the best thing about being a part of DOS? The knowledge-sharing and networking amongst members.
Do you have a ‘spark’ bird? Bald Eagle. About 14 years ago, we discovered a nesting pair at my place of work, and I have been monitoring their nests ever since. That has grown into Osprey platforms, owl boxes, songbird boxes, Kestrel boxes and an abundance of eBird checklists.
What is your favorite bird and why? I am drawn to the warblers -- the colors of the Black-throated Blue has always been my favorite.
Do you have a favorite birding patch? I live close to Bellevue State Park and tend to visit there a lot. It is an under-birded location but on certain days it can yield some great birds -- especially warblers in migration seasons.
Do you have a favorite ‘type’ of birding? I prefer birding walks through the local state parks and natural areas. You get to see some of the amazing locations our local area has to offer while getting some exercise while birding.
What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to bird or see a particular bird? Since I still have some local life birds to find, I have not ventured too far yet for a particular bird. I joined some fellow DOS members this past winter for a day trip to Barnegat Lighthouse (NJ) to get a few ‘lifers’: Purple Sandpiper, Harlequin Duck, Iceland Gull and King Eider (plus an Ipswich Sparrow).
Where (that you haven’t been yet) do you daydream about birding most? Alaska and/or Colombia.
Who’s been your most influential birding mentor? Not sure I can name just one. I got started in birding about 5-6 years ago as part of the Salem (NJ) Christmas Bird Count. The site where I work has about 700 acres of open habitat along the Delaware River and has been part of the Salem Circle count since the 1980s. For several years I hosted some great local south Jersey birders which allowed them to visit our site for the count. I think it was 2016 when I finally bought a pair of binoculars and that changed my world – everything wasn’t a small brown bird anymore. So, Marilyn Henry, Scott Hendersen, and Ron Kegel got me off to a great start. Then once I found DOS, Bill Stewart, and Andy Ednie were the two that have taught me the most about birding but also a lot about the history of birding in Delaware.
Do you create bird-related art? I have taken some pictures from time to time but don’t consider myself a wildlife photographer – included are some of my lucky shots.
What advice would you give a new birder? Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. You will learn something new almost every day you go birding. And most birders, especially DOS members, are always willing to teach you what they know so rely on the walks, talks and events to increase your knowledge. And when on a walk, tell the guides if you are looking for a ‘lifer’ or something special. I think seasoned birders get as much satisfaction as finding you a life bird as you do seeing it for the first time.
How have birds changed your life? I think the best part of my early birding career is gaining knowledge of the abundance of natural areas in Delaware and surrounding states. I lived in Delaware since the second grade but mostly knew only the local state parks in New Castle County and the Delaware beaches. In the last 3-4 years, thanks to DOS, I have been to some areas in Delaware I never seen before including the Bayshore marshes and beaches, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook NWR, DE WMAs and some private areas only accessible through DOS-sponsored field trips (i.e. Granogue). The protection and conservation of these locations and hopefully more lands like it in the future are now something I can appreciate more and more, and I hope to contribute to that effort through my membership in DOS.
-Meghann Matwichuk, Membership Chair
Ashland Hawk Watch Update
The Ashland Hawk Watch continues our 14th season. Late-season species to watch for include red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, bald eagle, and golden eagle. A new single-day record for red-shouldered Hawk of 110 was set on 27 October, which was an excellent day with nearly 800 migrating raptors. The first golden eagle of the season was seen on 28 October.
Pine siskins increased in number throughout October and are visiting the hawk watch feeders daily with more than 200 seen some days. A vesper sparrow was seen on 26 October. The first flock of snow geese migrated over on 27 October. The Ashland Hawk Watch runs daily through the end of November.
Visitors are welcome but must practice social distancing or wear a mask.
Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch Update
October is the midst of the hawk migration season, and with it comes a nice mixture of falcons and other assorted raptors. Osprey are one of Cape Henlopen’s star attractions, and by Oct 21, we had a season total of 1616. Sharp-shinned hawks were the most frequent accipiter with a season total of 1123. The coast is the route that falcons appear to prefer, and our numbers reflect that. Season totals as of 10/21 for American kestrels were 530, merlin 310, and peregrine 256. Compare Cape Henlopen falcon numbers to Ashland hawk watch that had season totals of 62 (AK), 20 (ML), and 5 (PG).
The Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch is very dependent on the right winds to blow the birds in our direction, and the more Northwesterly winds, the more birds we get. If the right winds happen after a period of rain, the backlog of birds can create a tremendous flight. These conditions happened Oct 5th (302 raptors) and 6th (295 raptors) and spectacularly on Oct 14. That day brought us 765 raptors, which included high counts for osprey (126), sharp-shinned hawk (459), Cooper’s hawk (23), and northern harrier (21). The Oct 14 flight of 765 was our highest one-day count since 2010.
Some other season highlights were 48 peregrines on Oct 6 and 44 merlins on Oct 13. We had a juvenile light morph Swainson’s hawk on Oct 6, which was the first one seen since 2015. As of Oct 21, the total number of raptors counted migrating over Cape Henlopen was 5134.
The perks of the Cape Henlopen hawk watch include the other birds seen flying over the Atlantic and through the dunes. We saw waterfowl including snow goose, brant, American wigeon, greater and lesser scaup, scoters, common eider, and red-breasted merganser. American golden-plovers and parasitic jaegers were seen in mid-October and the first northern gannets were documented on Oct 8. 122 Great blue herons were recorded on Oct 11. Pine siskins have had a tremendous irruption year, and we had a high count of 675 on Oct 14.
Volunteers are incredibly important to the success of Cape Henlopen, and a special thanks to Sue Gruver, Bruce Peterjohn, and the other volunteers who stepped up in October when they were needed. Please feel free to come help with your eyes and abilities. All are welcome if you wear a mask and keep a distance.
-Jen Ottinger & Sally O’Byrne
Youth Birding Update
This trip was the first event outing for the newly revitalized group, but it won’t be the last. Be on the lookout for future adventures involving Delaware birding hotspots, family-friendly birding locations, citizen science projects, meetings with bird experts, and much more. Have an idea for a great youth birding activity or opportunity? Let us know!
Connect with the Red Knot Youth Birders through social media, email, and the DOS website so you don’t miss the next fun thing.
Christmas Bird Counts
- It has been a tough year to say the least, but we do have something to look forward to – the DOS Christmas Bird Counts. Thanks to our amazing compilers we are going ahead with all six counts. We will be following social distance protocols set forth by National Audubon during the counts. Count compilers will inform their participants about these protocols. However, if you are interested go to the Audubon CBC web page for details.
The Delaware Ornithological Society sponsors six counts: Wilmington, Middletown, Bombay Hook, Rehoboth, Cape Henlopen/Prime Hook and Milford. All counts are looking for birders to participate. Contact the appropriate count compiler if you are interested in joining any or all of this year’s Christmas counts. New birders are always welcome. The counts are free to all participants.
- Wilmington: 19 December 2020 - Compiler Jim White - [email protected]
- Bombay Hook: 20 December 2020 - Compiler Andy Ednie - [email protected]
- Milford: 26 December 2020 - Compiler Chris Bennett - [email protected]
- Middletown: 27 December 2021 - Compiler Anthony Gonzon [email protected]
- Rehoboth: 2 January 2021 - Compiler Sally O’Byrne - [email protected]
- Cape Henlopen/Prime Hook: 3 January 2021 - Compiler Bruce Peterjohn [email protected]
-Jim White, DOS Christmas Count Coordinator
DOS Backyard Birding Challenge
The DOS backyard birding challenge is still going strong. Check the current leaderboard below. You can still join in on the fun! Learn more here.
Bird ID Pop Quiz!
Visit the DOS Homepage
If you are new to DOS and want to learn more about us, click the button to go to the DOS Homepage.