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DVOC Field Trip Report


Leader: Gregg Gorton
Report by Chris Walters

A group of six gathered May 21 to explore a brand new (to us) birding location in suburban Philadelphia: the Westminster and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries. We all know how legendary cemeteries can be for birding in the spring (think "Mt. Auburn Cemetery" in Boston). Here we had the extra advantage of being guided by Gregg Gorton, a master of these cemeteries, having monitored them for birds for nearly 10 years for the Lower Merion Conservancy. It was a beautiful day to be outdoors.

We found, in three hours, a total of 53 species, easily eclipsing the competition: the field trip being led the same morning over at Carpenter's Woods on the opposite side of the Schuylkill River. We were delighted to find that the cemeteries, plus a productive PECO right-of-way in between, contained a great variety of habitats, together with an overlook high above the Schuylkill across from Manayunk. From that vantage point alone we easily tallied Turkey Vultures, Rough-winged, Tree, and Barn Swallows, Great Egret, Chimney Swift, Mallard, Canada Geese, and Red-tailed Hawks. Good birds of the morning included a Cooper's Hawk circling just overhead, great views of Blackburnian and 9 other warblers, Indigo Bunting on territory, Veery, Cedar Waxwing, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Wood Thrush.

Our hats are off in thanks to Gregg for introducing us to such an extensive birding area.