Minutes – March 1, 2018

Delaware Valley Ornithological Club

Time: 7:50pm

Meteorological Note:

The electrical power went out before the meeting could start, and we learned that the entire area was also without power—likely due to a Nor’easter called Storm Riley that was sweeping into Southeastern PA. So instead of holding the meeting in the BEES Conference Room on the 3rd floor, we moved down to the Commons so attendees who were grounded on the 1st floor due to the elevator shut-down could also enjoy the talk. The first 45 minutes, or so, of the meeting were held in darkness punctuated only by some emergency lights, open laptops, cell phone flashlights, and Linda Widdop’s new umbrella that also had a flashlight in the handle.

Call To Order:

President George Armistead
VP: Linda Widdop; Secretary: Gregg Gorton
Minutes from last meeting approved as submitted.


Members present; 32; Guests: none identified

Reports from Council:


Committee Reports:

Membership Committee:

Bonnie Witmer
New Members: none
New applications received: none

Bob Billings Big Year Competition:

Art McMorris
The winner of this year’s competition is Debbie Beer, who will give a short talk about her Big Year at the April 5th meeting, when the Billings family can also be present. (This announcement was followed by loud applause and cheers.)
Art also reminded the group that everyone is urged to sign up for this year’s Bob Billings competition by March 31st. The goal is to find the most species in the DVOC area in 2018… so you can win bragging rights, plus a small honorarium. If you don’t sign up, you can’t win!
Contact Art: mcmorris@mac.com

Field Trips:

Linda Widdop
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, who will also lead an anniversary celebration of the Urban Wildlife Podcast that he produces with his partner-in-podcast Billy “Bull” Gervasi.
Free to all members and non-members
Meet at CCEC and walk to Whitby Meadow to see woodcocks displaying and hopefully see a Red Fox on the way over and hear owls on the way back.

Woodcock Walk at Houston Meadow
March 4, 2018 @ 5:30 – 6:30pm
Trip Leader: Martin Selzer for BirdPhilly
Houston Playground, 900 Grakyn Lane, Philadelphia, PA, 19128
Free to all members and non-members
Meet Martin at 5:30 pm at Houston Playground to experience the sounds and sights of the “Timberdoodle.”

Bird Walk at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum
March 17, 2018 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
8600 Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA
Trip Leader: Navin Sasikumar
Free to all members and non-members
Join Navin Sasikumar for a walk around Heinz looking for late wintering birds and early spring arrivals. Highlights may include rusty blackbird, a variety of waterfowl and fox sparrow singing!

Birding Burlington County (Week Three)
March 18, 2018 @ 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
County Road 563, Chatsworth, NJ, 08019
Trip Leader: Sandra Keller
Free to all members and non-members
Explore Franklin Parker Preserve searching for early migrants. Expect a lot of walking on fairly well maintained trails. Franklin Parker Preserve comprises 9,770 acres of pine woods south of Chatsworth lake. The Preserve is New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s largest, encompasses 16 square miles in the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. It is accessible by a network of sandy roads that wind though pitch pine forest and blueberry fields, and run along the preserve’s cedar swamp, shallow lakes and pristine tributaries of the West Branch of the Wading River. Meet at the “Speedwell” parking area on Rt 563 at the south end of the preserve. Go here for exact location and more information: http://njconservation.org/preserves/FPPDirectionsrevisedSpeedwellEntrance.pdf

Lakehurst Naval Air Station
June 6, 2018 (Wednesday)
Trip Leader: Bob Horton
NOTE: You must register in advance so your name will be on the official list of people allowed to enter this secure military facility adjacent to the Pinelands Preserve, which is also where the famous Hindenburg (Blimp) Disaster occurred! You will be required to present a valid ID card at the time of the walk. Likely species: Upland Sandpiper, Horned Lark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark. To sign up, contact Bob: Horton633@verizon.net

For Directions to all Events, go to: http://dvoc.org/activities/field-trips/
NOTE: Please contact Linda Widdop if you want to lead a trip outside Philadelphia: Linda@techimpact.org
And, please contact Tony Croasdale if you want to lead a walk inside Philadelphia (for DVOC’s BirdPhilly initiative): Tony.croasdale@gmail.com


All articles from the current issue are posted on the DVOC website, from which they can be downloaded; and, past issues can also be downloaded. Your copy will be mailed to you if you have not received it already. If you do not receive it, contact Matt Halley, Editor: matthewhalley@gmail.com


Linda Widdop
March 15, 2018 @ 7:30pm-9:00pm
Speaker: Don Jones
Bird Sounds – An Introduction to Listening and Visualizing

Details and Meeting Schedule can be found at:


George Armistead: On March 6, 2018, FDR Park “Clean-Up Day” will be held from 4-6pm. Meet at the FDR Park Boathouse, 1500 Pattison Avenue & South Broad Street. This large (>350 acres) park is a birding hotspot beloved by members of DVOC. Let’s help clean it up!

George Armistead: Former DVOC Member and illustrious birder Barry Sauppe died on Jan 22, 2018 at the age of 71. He discovered the 3rd North American record (and only one outside of Alaska) of Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He joined DVOC in 1960, but moved out West, where he led pelagic trips for Debbie Shearwater’s company and founded the Ano Nuevo Christmas Count, among other activities. Please consider a donation in his memory to DVOC, or Cape May Bird Observatory, or Silver Lake Nature Center–as mentioned in the obituary here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/times-standard/obituary.aspx?n=barry-sauppe&pid=188286787

Bonnie Witmer: A Community Engagement Committee Meeting focused on the new Audubon Discovery Center at East Park Reservoir in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, will be held on April 3, 2018 at the Cornerstone Baptist Church, 2117 N. 33rd Street, Philadelphia 19121. Go here for more information:

Michael Walter: Our own President George Armistead is travelling to Israel as a member of the Zeiss-Rockjumper Team for the Champions of the Flyway Birding Competition/Fundraiser that will provide donated funds to Bird Life International for their vital work on a campaign in Croatia and Serbia to stop the annual gunning of migrant birds. For more information, and/or to donate, please go here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rockjumper
or here: http://www.champions-of-the-flyway.com/the-zeiss-rockjumpers/

Local Notes:

Marty Dellwo: He and Linda Widdop went to Merrill Creek Reservoir, Washington Twp, Warren County, NJ, this past week, where they dipped on the Gyrfalcon but they saw many Horned Larks, a few Lapland Longspurs, 7 Lesser Black-backed and a couple of Iceland Gulls (on grass; probably because the islands in the river where they loaf had been flooded), and Bald Eagle.

Tony Croasdale and Debbie Beer: Reported that they had independently heard a lot of Woodcock display-“twittering” in the field beyond the dead (south) end of Lindbergh Blvd, just past 86th Street, where the entrance to the John Heinz NWR is located. There is a sign posted: “No Dumping,” but unfortunately a lot of trash is found there. You can park along the side of the road and then listen, and/or you can walk southward–any evening now–into the grassy field dotted with trees, where you may be lucky enough to catch Woodcock “peenting,” twittering (their display flight-song), or even in flight.

Debbie Beer: Mentioned also that more than 50 Tundra Swan were seen at Heinz NWR just this week, which may be a record.

George Armistead: Noted that a Golden Eagle had strafed and flushed up a large number of Snow Geese at the Alpha Grasslands Preserve in Alpha Borough, Pohatcong Twp, Warren County, NJ, where the Gyrfalcon had previously been seen.

Navin Sasikumar: He and Matt Halley had 29 species, including Eastern Phoebe and Peregrine Falcon during the Great Backyard Bird Count at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia last Saturday.

Gregg Gorton: He, Rob Bierregaard, Jason Weckstein, Will Ryan, and Mark Greenberry had 28 species during the same event, but at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County. One of the pair of Peregrine Falcons that nest in the steeple of St John Church in Manayunk was seen in the far distance perched near its nest-box window.



Bluebirds – Biology and Conservation
Speaker: Betsy Nutt
This was a presentation on the biology of bluebirds, the history of the effort to conserve them, the habitat necessary for attracting them, and a detailed “how to” care for them properly. If you wish to consult with Betsy regarding bluebirds, you may contact her at: betsynutt1@gmail.com


The electrical power came back on at 8:21pm, part-way into Betsy’s talk, for which she had been deploying a laptop computer perched atop a box on a table in front of the audience. So, with electricity finally available, she was able to project her slides properly, and what had already been an illuminating presentation became even brighter and more vivid thereafter.

Our speaker began her talk in the darkened Commons, lit only by emergency lights, a laptop, and some iPhone flashlights....

Our speaker began her talk in the darkened Commons, lit only by emergency lights, a laptop, and some iPhone flashlights….

Betsy Nutt talking about Bluebirds, despite the power outage!

Betsy Nutt talking about Bluebirds, despite the power outage!

We all had an easier time after the lights came back on....

We all had an easier time after the lights came back on….

Meeting Adjourned:


After Meeting at Cherry Street Tavern:

A dozen, or so, intrepid members made their way through the gusting wind and rain to gather for libations and conversation, per custom.