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Minutes of the DVOC
February 21, 2008

President Paul Guris called the meeting to order at 7:45 PM. Forty members and 8 guests were present. The minutes of the Jan. 3 2008 meeting were accepted as corrected.

Committee Reports

Membership: Anita Guris read the profile of new member Stewart Beltz. She invited anyone who would like to join to see her after the meeting or to go to the website, www.DVOC.org, to download an application form.

Conservation: Chair Debbie Beer reported that in a special meeting held on February 11, the NJ Marine Fisheries Council ignored the pleas of NJ Department of Environmental Protection, conservation organizations and citizens, and voted not to extend the Horseshoe Crab harvest moratorium. As a result, the rufa subspecies of the Red Knot, which depends on horseshoe crab eggs during its spring migration, remains seriously imperiled. Tony Croasdale was present at the meeting and wrote an impassioned summary which is posted on the DVOC website in the Conservation Corner. There is a possibility that Governor Corzine may overturn the ruling if there is enough public outcry. Members were encouraged to call the Governor’s office at 609-777-2500 to protest the ruling. You do not need to be a NJ resident to call.

Larus: Editor Jason Loghry appealed to members to send in articles and notices for the spring issue of Larus.

Cassinia: Editor Art McMorris invited contributions for the 2008-2009 issue of Cassinia. It’s not too early to send in your submissions.

Field Trip Reports: Bob Horton led the presentations of field trip reports.

Colin Campbell gave the report of his Feb. 9 trip to Delaware City, Dragon Run Park, Fort DuPont State Park and Dutch Neck Road. Ten people came on the trip and were treated to such goodies as Long-tailed Duck, Red-throated Loon, Wood Duck, Bald Eagle, Common Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, Fox Sparrow, Cooper’s Hawk, Gray Catbird, Peregrine Falcon, American Tree Sparrow and Cackling Goose.

Win Shafer gave the report of the trip to Algonquin Park and Amherst Island in Ontario led by Adrian Binns on Feb. 16-18. Two 15-passenger vans made the trip. Specialties that were seen included a Slaty-backed Gull in Ithaca, NY, Thayer’s and Little Gulls, a Northern Hawk-Owl carrying a vole, Trumpeter Swan, Pine Grosbeak, and both Common and Hoary Redpolls. In contrast to last year’s trip, no crossbills or Evening Grosbeaks were seen.

Debbie Beer gave the report of Martin Selzer’s Feb. 17 trip to Indian River Inlet, Prime Hook and Port Mahon, DE. Highlights were good numbers of Common and Red-throated Loons, Long-tailed Duck, scoters, Bufflehead, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Short-eared Owl, large numbers of Northern Gannets, and at least one Fin Whale seen from shore.

Full reports of these trips are on the website: www.DVOC.org.

Up-coming Field Trip Announcements:

Steve Kacir will be leading a photography trip to Barnegat Light, NJ on March 1. This will be a leisurely trip with the aim of finding cooperative gulls and seabirds and getting good photographs of them. Almost no effort will be made to find rarities. If you’re interested, please see Steve.

Paul Guris announced that there are still three spaces left for the pelagic portions of the May 29-June 1 club trip to North Carolina for “Surf and Turf Specialties.”

Details of all these trips are on the website: www.DVOC.org.

Programs: Frank Windfelder announced the next two programs. On March 6, DVOC member Keith Bildstein will speak about “American Kestrel, Studies at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Elsewhere,” and on March 20, Jeff Gordon will speak on “iBird: Digital Technology vs. Natural History.”


Frank Windfelder announced that we have copies of several excellent books for sale at reduced prices. Jeff Wells’ “Birder’s Conservation Handbook” is available for $25.00 per copy, which is $10.00 off the list price, and we have copies of Carl Safina’s award-winning “Song of the Blue Ocean,” signed by the author, for $12.00 per copy – a savings of $5.50. Thirdly, we have sets of George Reynard’s tapes of “Voices of Birds and Birders” for the ridiculously low price of $10.00.

Jeff Holt announced that, last year, he and Bob Horton led a trip to New York City to see the display of Audubon’s original watercolors at the New York Historical Society. The Society is placing another set of Audubon’s watercolors on display from Feb. 8 until March 16, and Jeff is running a trip to see them. Details will be posted on the website.

Andy Urquhart reported that on a recent trip to Franklin’s Cove near Tullytown, PA, he saw new “No Trespassing” signs posted all along the waterfront.

Tony Croasdale reported that this coming Sunday he will be hosting the first of a new series of “Birding Coffee Hours” from 2 to 3 PM at Tinicum. These events will be designed for new birders and people casually interested in nature. The subject for the first coffee hour will be on Black-capped vs. Carolina Chickadees, both of which are present at Tinicum; it will be patterned after Frank Windfelder’s recent Ornithological Study. The topic of the second will be Red-tailed vs. Red-shouldered Hawk.

Tony also spoke about the horseshoe crab/Red Knot issue, and said that he is planning to organize a demonstration at Governor Corzine’s office on the last weekend of March to show the depth of public sentiment on the matter. He said that in the official comments presented at the recent meeting of the NJ Marine Fisheries Council, 1700 letters were presented in favor of extending the moratorium on harvesting and only a handful opposed, but most of the letters supporting the moratorium were form letters and were therefore not given much weight.

Anita Guris announced that there were only a few spaces left on the June North Carolina pelagic trips. Space is available on the March 16 Cape May NJ trip and on the April 5 Lewes DE trip. See Anita to sign up or go to www.Paulagics.com.

Paul Guris said that Luke Sykes, a young birder on the World Series of Birding youth team, the “Subadult Skuas,” was looking for a second driver for their team. Volunteers should contact Paul.

Local Notes:

Ray Hendrick was at “Buckingham Wetlands” near the Buckingham Township municipal building on Feb. 18 and saw 2 Wilson’s Snipe and a Marsh Wren. He has erected many bluebird and screech owl boxes, and has a gray-phase Eastern Screech-Owl in one.

Tonight’s main speaker Mary Gustafson said that while she was riding up from the airport she saw 40 Rusty Blackbirds at FDR Park.

Colin Campbell said that there were also Rusty Blackbirds at Bellevue State Park near Wilmington, DE.

Colin then related how he had recently seen a juvenile Sandhill Crane in fields near Taylor’s Bridge, DE, to bring his state list to 373. This was the first Sandhill Crane seen in Delaware in 12 years, and only the third record overall. Bob Rufe passed around a photograph of the bird. Locals said that two birds, an adult and the juvenile, had been present for several weeks.

Rob Goff saw an immature Baltimore Oriole at his home in Oreland, PA, visiting his niger seed and peanut feeders.

Ornithological Studies: Art McMorris announced the next two Orni Studies. March 6 Sally Conyne will talk about her “North American Lesser Black-backed Gull Research Project,” and on March 20 Anthony Gonzon will speak about the new Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas.

He then introduced the night’s Ornithological Study, which was the presentation of the 2007 DVOC Conservation award, and turned the floor over to Conservation Chair Debbie Beer.

Debbie announced that the award winner was Larry Niles, and presented him with an award plaque. Larry was recognized for his tireless efforts and outstanding achievements in the area of conservation, most recently as retired Chief Biologist of the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife Endangered Species program, and also as consultant to the non-profit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ. In particular, Larry works diligently to protect Red Knots along the Delaware Bay and conducts research in their arctic breeding grounds and in their wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego. The Conservation Award was particularly timely in light of the NJ Marine Fisheries Council’s recent vote not to continue the two-year moratorium on Horseshoe Crab harvesting. Larry and his wife Mandy urged everyone to contact NJ Governor Corzine via phone or hand-addressed envelope, and ask him to extend the moratorium on Horseshoe Crab harvesting.

Larry said that he would like to share the award with his wife, Amanda Dey, who had done much of the work on the Red Knot and written legislation on the issue.

Larry then spoke about the status of the horseshoe crab and Red Knot populations and presented the scientific data he had shown at last week’s NJ Marine Fisheries Council meeting to document the fact that there has been essentially no recovery of the horseshoe crab population during the moratorium, indicating that the moratorium needed to be continued. In light of last week’s meeting and the ruling by the Council not to extend the moratorium, the event was very timely.

Main Program: Frank Windfelder then introduced the main speaker, Mary Gustafson, formerly from our area and now living in Mission, Texas where she is the Coordinator of the new Rio Grande Joint Venture. Mary presented a talk entitled “TexMex Birds: Birding Northeast Mexico.” She described the habitat in the Tamaulipan Brushlands and the Chihuahuan Desert and its varied bird life, and invited all to come birding in her new “back yard.”

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Art McMorris, Secretary