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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Colin Campbell


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The operative word for the first half of this three day extravaganza was - wet! The half dozen hardy souls who ventured out on Friday met up in Helen's Sausage House for breakfast, then travelled to Bombay Hook NWR, pausing to admire the hundreds of Black-bellied Plovers in the nearby ploughed fields. Warblers were thin at the new Boardwalk Trail and the pools were very full, causing most shorebirds to take their high tide roost to the fields. The Night-Heron roost held a Yellow-crowned amongst the Black-crowned. A boiling radiator caused the leader to swap cars (and later cost him over $600 to replace both fan motors). About 80 species were tallied at the Hook, well below the usual 100 plus. Amazingly, the long-staying Greater White-fronted Goose was still with a small band of Snow Geese at Woodland Beach WMA. The crabcake sandwiches at Sambo's in Leipsic were well up to their usual par. Port Mahon Road was a mess but plenty of shorebirds, including Red Knot and 6 Oystercatchers - quite unusual here. Ted Harvey disappointed but, in a change from the usual itinerary, we had to go for the extreme rarity - a Wood Sandpiper at Broadkill Beach Road, photographed a few days before but only identified on the Wednesday (7th). It was waiting for us, as was another unusual sighting these days - Armas Hill! The day concluded with the campers heading to Trap Pond State Park and the motellers to Laurel, followed by a slap-up Mexican meal at Plaza Tapatia in Seaford. It was too wet for a campfire.

Saturday kicked off with a mighty Quarterback's Breakfast at Britt's in Laurel, followed by a walk at Nanticoke WMA, finding Prothonotary, Prairie and Worm-eating Warblers and a spectacular visitation by a pair of Barred Owls. Pileated Woodpeckers and Great Crested Flycatchers were everywhere it seemed. The 'drumming' of a Ruffed Grouse (that would be a first for the state) turned out to be a well-hidden Turkey Vulture attempting to dry off its wings! Summer Tanagers were at their usual spot. A surprise find was that the Woodland Ferry was closed - as was our intended lunch stop, The Pit BBQ. A circuitous route to Chapel Branch Preserve (Acadian Fly, Scarlet Tanager etc) was followed by a good back-up lunch spot in Laurel. The afternoon was spent at Trussom and Trap Ponds and while the weather slowly improved, the birds were obviously suffering from 36 hours of rain! A very cooperative Louisiana Waterthrush was good value. We gathered around the campfire in the evening with take-away spare-ribs, gourmet cheeses, wine and whisky. And good birding stories. Two more Barred Owls visited.

Camp was broken early, breakfast again at Britt's, who does a very nice scrapple, then off to the Pocomoke River in the swamps on the DE/MD border. Stars here were Kentucky and Yellow-throated Warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a Common Loon flyover. The search for a Eurasian Collared-Dove in Selbyville lasted at least 5 seconds as one keen-eyed participant spotted it perched on a telegraph post near the parking lot. Lunch was taken at the always-delicious Em-Ings BBQ. The afternoon was spent in Assawoman WMA where the Brown-headed Nuthatches and Common Terns provided good entertainment. One of the participants had not had time to go for the Wood Sandpiper on the Friday, so we headed back to Broadkill Beach Road and duly found it - not difficult as there were plenty of 'twitchers' there to point it out. Then the most amusing (to the rest of us) incident of the fun weekend - the two dogs brought along in a small RV by one member managed to click the door lock and lock him out - separating him from his car keys, wallet etc! The antics of different people trying to get the dogs to reverse the process was priceless! Eventually, the AAA was summoned and man and dogs were able to head north in a couple of hours; by which time the rest of us had long gone!

Colin Campbell