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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Chris Walters

Friday - Sunday June 24-26, 2005
“GRASSLANDS PLUS” FIELD TRIP TO WESTERN PA

PINEY TRACT GRASSLANDS, Clarion County, PA and
ALLEGHENY NATIONAL FOREST, Forest County, PA


Advance scouting paid off on DVOC’s second annual tour of reclaimed strip mines in Clarion County, Western Pennsylvania. Quick success allowed a plus: the time and luxury for excellent boreal woodland birding on Sunday in the nearby Allegheny National Forest. A large group of nineteen (19) DVOCers and others participated.

Led by Rick Mellon and local field scout Ron Montgomery, we were saluted at our very first stop by several Clay-colored Sparrows, giving us nice looks. The same spot yielded good studies of Grasshopper Sparrows, plus many songs and several good looks of Henslow’s Sparrows. Kate Somerville took digital pictures (attached). A pair of breeding Harriers were startled to see us there as well.

At our stop for Upland Sandpipers, several must have been delighted to see us. They soared above us one at a time, giving us their distinctive “Wolf-Whistle” flight songs, as well as their “quip-quip-quip” alarm call. We had barely collected ourselves when the Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, and Savannah Sparrows began showing off. After recovering over lunchtime refreshments at Sligo, an Alder Flycatcher highlighted our afternoon, singing and being seen by all within 15 yards. Other additions: Horned Lark and Cliff Swallow. We adjourned for a Mexican dinner of guacamole, fajitas, and Dos Equiis.

On Sunday it was north into the hemlocks of the Allegheny National Forest. We had excellent close views (and took several pictures) of Mourning Warblers there; our raptor target birds proved more difficult. We succeeded, but only after ungodly noises from Mellon.

Before we left the hemlocks, we heard many of the best breeding birds of the area: Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Purple Finch (seen), Acadian Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo (seen), Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Dark-eyed Junco (seen), Least Flycatcher, Cedar Waxwings (seen), Pileated Woodpecker, Raven, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-th’d Blue, Black-th’d Green, Hooded, Blackburnian, and Chestnut-sided Warblers.

By noon, with heat beginning to rise, we adjourned for home. Participants were: Rick Mellon and Chris Walters (co-leaders), Ron Montgomery (scout), Joann Raine, Cameron Rutt (briefly), Margie Keefe, Erica Brendel, Kate Somerville, Linda Rowan, Mick Jeitner, Lydia Reichner, Gary Edwards, Denis Brennan, Walt Mychalus, Ralph Hoppel, Rick and Terry Van Kirk, Dayton Coles, and Michael Berry.

Images by Kate Somerville