Monday, March 4, 2013

Successful First Day East, March 3

After staying the night off the PA Turnpike near Carlisle, PA, I headed south toward Baltimore, MD to Hunt Valley Town Center mall in search of Black-headed Gull, the first overwintering rarity targeted on this trip, that has been overwintering there with a flock of Ring-billed Gulls.  In the 70's, Black-headed Gull, a European bird, was more rare, but the breeding population in upper northeastern parts of Canada have expanded since then.  It is still and much sought after bird, but is reported more frequently in the east now during the fall migration and the winter.  I picked up two 5 oz. bags of popcorn, an all natural ingredient brand, unsalted, to activate the flock of Ring-billed Gulls.  The activated feeding of the Ring-billed Gulls has been reported on the Maryland Birding News list serve for bird reports to bring in the Black-headed Gull.  When I arrived at 10:00 am, the flock of Ring-billed Gulls was sitting in the parking lot near the closed Best Buy store.  When I pulled up to scan the birds, the flock flew over toward my car in anticipation of being fed.  So, I obliged the gulls and fed them popcorn, like chumming for birds on a pelagic birding trip, but now on land.  The Black-headed Gull came in quickly, but I am not sure from what direction.  The flock of gulls got up and flew around after which the Black-headed Gull appeared.  I got some very close photographs by zooming out to 70 or 100 mm on my zoom lens (70-200 mm with a 2X extender), because the bird was almost underfoot.  This is the closest that I have ever been to a Black-headed Gull.  The photos show the red bill with dark tip, the reddish gray feet and legs, and I managed one photo showing the black underside of the primaries with the wings up, even though the bird was too close to see the complete wing.

At about 11:00 am, I headed to the nearby Lock Raven Reservoir to look for a Eurasian Wigeon that has been reported there during the winter at Peerce's Cove.  However, I found only three American Wigeon with a mixed flock of Gadwall, Bufflehead, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, a few scaup and two mergansers that were either Red-breasted or Common Mergansers at which I got a very poor look.  I did not find the Eurasian Wigeon. 

At about 1:00 pm, I headed to Kent Narrows on the east side of the Bay Bridge east of Annapolis to search for the Tufted Duck.  Tufted Duck is a also a European bird that has expanded into Iceland and Greenland and appears in the east during fall migration and winter.  This female Tufted Duck has been overwintering at Kent Narrows with the other diving ducks.  I first looked under the Route 18 bridge from the east and west sides and then under the Kent Narrows bridge.  There were about 500 scaup, mostly Greater Scaup with a few Lesser Scaup mixed in, and about four Long-tailed Ducks.  The most recent report on February 20 of the female Tufted Duck was under the dock at Red Eyes, so I needed to locate that.  As I was scanning east from under the Kent Narrows Bridge from the viewing platform, on the other side I noticed Red Eyes Dock Bar and a few Buffleheads with a likely candidate for the female Tufted Duck, a very dark duck that was larger than the female and male Buffleheads.  I headed to Red Eyes Dock Bar and walked out to the edge of the water.  A small mixed group of Bufflehead and scaup swam out from either close to or under the dock, and included the female Tufted Duck.  The photos show the smaller size than scaup and slightly larger than the female Bufflehead, the small tuft (female's is smaller than the male's), the white before the dark tip to the bill, the lack of white on the face like a female scaup and the overall dark brown color of the sides and back.  The second photo shows the size comparison with scaup and Bufflehead.
I left Kent Narrows at 3:00 to 3:15 pm and headed to Delaware.  My goal was Indian River Inlet for Great Cormorant, Snow Bunting and maybe Surf and White-winged Scoter as well as Eared Grebe and maybe Razorbill.  I arrived before sunset and found Great Cormorant flying west through the inlet seen from the north side of the inlet.  I drove to the south side of the inlet and found the over wintering flock of Snow Buntings.  See picture below.  I also found a flock of Dunlin and two Greater Yellowlegs in the exposed mud flats in the marsh.   At sunset, I headed to Rehobeth to stay the night.  I added three of the winter specialty birds, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck and Great Cormorant as well
as Snow Bunting, Dunlin and Greater Yellowlegs. 

The total is now 151.   Shortly, I will make the total list available for viewing.  Gotta go.....birding!

No comments:

Post a Comment