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Field Trip Report

BOMBAY HOOK, DELAWARE, August 16, 2003

Nine club members and friends met for our August field trip to Bombay Hook to catch the continuing south bound shorebird migration. The water levels at Raymond and Shearness pools were still good and there were lots of waders to be found. At Raymond, we had four of the five expected peeps least, semipalmated, western and white-rumped; stilt, spotted and pectoral sandpipers, both lesser and greater yellowlegs, short-billed dowitchers and American avocets. There were also semipalmated plovers and killdeers. The surprise of this first stop was a pair of juvenile Wilson's snipe that were found out in the open.

Among the other birders at the refuge this day was a group from DOS who we hopscotched around the auto-loop sharing sightings and a couple from the UK here on a birding holiday. They ended up joining us for the day. Our first stop at Shearness, revealed more of the same shorebirds and a great look at least bittern. I saw the bittern out over the reeds and before I could say anything, it dipped out of sight. Fortunately, it kept coming towards us and we not only watched it fly to use, we were able to scope it "hiding" in the reeds on the other side of the channel. The tide was coming in and the mudflats opposite Shearness were teeming with birds including black-bellied plovers and willets. At the northwest corner of Shearness, we searched for the reeve that had been reported there over the last week but dipped out. We did find a lone black-necked stilt among the waders in this back corner of the pool.

We moved onto Bear Swamp stopping to look at blue grosbeak and a red fox first. At Bear Swamp we had a nice group of wood ducks, a kingfisher and a pied-billed grebe along with a distant bald eagle and merlin. Our stop for lunch was interrupted by a report that the reeve had been seen so back to Shearness we went. While we dipped out again on the reeve, we did get everyone on a Wilson's phalarope and dunlin that had escaped us on our first stop here.

A quick trip to Port Mahon road got us sanderlings and ruddy turnstones. However, the growing number of great black-backed gulls has reduced and virtually eliminated the numbers of terns that used to roost on the pier and pilings here so we only had a few more Forster's terns.

Our last stop of the day was the Ted Harvey tract. Our trip out to the north pool we rewarded with looks at 6 tern species: least, Forster's, Caspian, black, gulled-billed and black skimmer. A walk out to the beach found the ruddy ducks and more turnstones, sanderlings, and semipalmated sandpipers. Another very successful day birding in this wonderful shorebird spot.

Martin Selzer