Minutes – Feb 1st, 2018

7:30 PM Academy of Natural Sciences (BEES Classroom)

Call To Order: President George Armistead

VP: Linda Widdop
Secretary: Gregg Gorton

Minutes from last meeting approved as submitted.

Members present: 32;

Guests: Randall Sindlinger; Terri Adams

Committee Reports:

Membership Committee: Bonnie Witmer

New Members: Dan Efroymson (present); Michael Morell; Moed Gerveni
New applications received: none

Bob Billings Big Year Competition: Art McMorris

All members are urged to sign up for this birding competition by March 31st, the goal of which is to find the most species in the DVOC area in 2018, so you can win bragging rights, plus an honorarium. If you don’t sign up, you can’t win!

Field Trips: Linda Widdop

Barnegat Light for Winter Ducks and Seabird Photography (Rain Date!)
February 04, 2018 @ 8:00 am – 1:30 pm
208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ, 08006
Trip Leader: Linda Widdop (look for the green Fiat 500X)
Free to all members and non-members
Barnegat Lighthouse and jetty are famous for wintering ducks including Harlequin, Long-tail ducks and Eiders. In addition, we often see Northern Gannets diving close to shore and may even walk amongst Purple Sandpipers, Dunlin and other shorebirds on the jetty. We also have a good chance to see the Ipswich race of Savannah Sparrow and maybe even a Snowy Owl along the dunes. Bring your camera for up-close photographs of some of these species. Meet in the lighthouse parking lot at 7:30 AM so that we can get out to the jetty in good light. Or, meet us later out on the jetty. If we have time, we can also peruse the back bay coves along LBI. This trip is free to all. Please note that the trip will be rescheduled yet again if weather forecast is bad. Please check the posting on the DVOC website (see link below) the day before the trip for update.

Birding Burlington County with Sandra Keller
February 18, 2018 @ 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
River’s Edge Park (Wilkie Park)
Front St – Florence, New Jersey
Trip Leader: Sandra Keller; sandrakeller@verizon.net
Free to all members and non-members.
This trip will start with a gull study. Florence still sees a good variety of gulls – with both Iceland and Glaucous being seen last month. Sunday might be a bit iffy as the dump is not in operation then, and the gulls might not stick around. That’s also why the early start. We will also hit one or two other spots, depending on what I find while scouting. If there is any doubt about the weather, contact Sandra the day before.

Woodcock Walks at Houston Meadow (note two different dates!)
*February 25, 2018 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30pm
**March 4, 2018 @ 5:30 – 6:30pm
Houston Playground, 900 Grakyn Lane, Philadelphia, PA, 19128
Trip Leader: Martin Selzer
Free to all members and non-members
Meet Martin Selzer at 5:30 pm at Houston Playground to experience the sounds and sights of the the “Timberdoodle.”
Come on one or both walks. There will be no weather dates. Contact Martin if the weather is questionable on either evening.

Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center
March 02, 2018 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
700 Cobbs Creek Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA, 19143
Trip Leader: Tony Croasdale
Free to all members and non-members
We will meet at CCCEC and walk to Whitby Meadow to see woodcocks display and hopefully see a Red Fox on the way there and hear owls on the way back.

For Directions to all Events, go to:

Cassinia: Matt Halley

Copies of Cassinia, vol 76 (2014-2016), were handed out to members who had not yet received one. Note that all articles from this issues are posted on the DVOC website, from which they can be downloaded; and, past issues can also be downloaded.

Programs: Linda Widdop

February 15, 2018 @ 7:30pm – 9:00pm
New Perspectives on the Evolution and Behavior of the Nightingale-Thrushes (Turdidae: Catharus)
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
Speaker: Matthew Halley
Matthew Halley, editor of the DVOC’s Cassinia publication, has been studying the behavior and evolution of nightingale-thrushes (genus Catharus) since 2011, and they are now the focus of his PhD dissertation at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Details and Meeting Schedule can be found at http://dvoc.org/wp/activities/meetings/


Bird Philly: none

Paul Guris: On Feb 10, 2018, there will be a pelagic birding trip out of Lewes, Delaware, with possibilities for a lot of goodies! For information, go to the See Life Paulagics web site:

Gregg Gorton: On February 2, 2018 at 7pm, Scott Weidensaul will give a talk: “The Life and Ecology of Snowy Owls” at Community Center Auditorium, Foulkeways at Gwynedd, 1120 Meetinghouse Rd, Gwynned, PA

Bob Horton: DVOC has received over $260 from Amazon.com, from DVOC members who have signed onto the AmazonSmile program, which allows you to pick a charitable organization to which 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible purchases will be donated. Check the Amazon website, where you can sign up to make donations to DVOC every time you make a purchase: http//smile.amazon.com/about

Matt Halley: This has been the season for submission of grant proposals at the Academy of Natural Sciences – Drexel. Jason Weckstein (Associate Curator of Birds) and Matt Halley (graduate student at Drexel in BEES Department) submitted a grant to National Geographic ($140,000) that proposes to put GPS tracking devices on thrush species in the Neotropics. We wished them good luck with that!

Bonnie Witmer said that on February 7, 2018, 6:30-8:00pm, there will be a discussion–“Let’s talk about birds and climate change”– at the Gryphon Café, 105 W. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087, hosted by Audubon PA that will focus on practical things people can do about climate change rather than just theoretical discussion. Check with Bonnie Witmer if you have questions: bonnie.witmer@verizon.net.

Holly Merker was elected Chair of the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee (PORC), the first woman to achieve that position. She had previously been the first female voting member. She was heartily congratulated with a round of applause.

Local Notes:

Linda Widdop saw two Merlins near her house in Rydal, PA, and also had a Bald Eagle flying over.

Tony Croasdale commented that there are two Snowy Owls present at the Philadelphia International Airport: one (quite white, likely mature) in Delaware County that has been seen by many along Hog Island Road, and one (very dark, immature) along Fort Mifflin Road in Philadelphia County that was found by Gregg Gorton and Rob Bierregaard on January 28th. There ensued some discussion about the aging and sexing of Snowy Owls. Reportedly, unless the plumage color is at one extreme or the other (very dark to nearly pure white), aging the bird can be difficult. Gregg Gorton mentioned that the species was designated as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 2017 (when previously it had had a Least Concern designation) because the size of the population, at least in North America, is smaller than had previously been believed.

Bob Horton reported a Snowy Owl at Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, Monmouth County NJ; and a female King Eider in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Paul Guris reported that on the January 27th pelagic trip out of Cape May, NJ, he had 13 Great Black-backed Gulls behind the boat (more than he had ever had), 18 Black-legged Kittiwakes (15 first-year birds), but only a small number of Dovekies (due to insufficient plankton?, he wondered), 3 Puffins, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 144 Gannets, and 3 Razorbills.

Matt Halley asked whether anyone had seen a Great-Horned Owl nest yet in Philadelphia, but no one had, though some Great-horned Owl activity at the John Heinz NWR at Tinicum, near the small boardwalk, may be suggestive of a nearby nest.

Marty Dellwo said he dipped on the Gyrfalcon but saw the Eared Grebe at the Merrill Creek Reservoir, Washington Twp, Hunterdon County, NJ.

Linda Widdop said she had a Greater White-fronted Goose at the Reservoir, and 8 Cackling Geese were seen. Many Snow Geese were also seen (perhaps 50,000).

Erica Brendel had a female Cooper’s Hawk in her backyard in Mt. Airy (Philadelphia) taking a bath.

George Armistead reported that Tom Johnson (Cape May, NJ) saw two Ravens near Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, in the past week. And, George birded with Holly Merker last week: they had a Black-capped Chickadee (and recorded the voice), a red morph Eastern Screech-owl at Pennypack on the Delaware, and the Black-headed Gull at John Heinz/Tinicum, among other good species. There ensued a discussion of the color-morphs of Eastern Screech-owls, which may not just be gray and red, but also brown.

George also noted that The Eagles football team will be playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday, a reminder that the group cheered heartily.


Program Speaker:

Paul Guris
Talk entitled: “Pelagic Birding Discoveries,” which detailed (with a plethora of superb photographs) the many remarkable finds he and his colleagues have made over the past 30+ years of pelagic birding off the East Coast.

Paul Guris speaking to the group

Paul Guris speaking to the group (Linda Widdop photo)

Meeting Adjourned: at 9:21pm

After Meeting at Cherry Street Tavern:

Nine DVOCers at Cherry Street after the Feb. 1st meeting

Nine DVOCers at Cherry Street after the Feb. 1st meeting (photo by Linda Widdop)