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Page history last edited by PBworks 7 years, 7 months ago

Welcome to the Conejohela Flats wiki...

 

The idea for this website came out of a desire to have a centralized, public site to review Flats sightings and other info.  The wiki format (find out more here) is particularly conducive to this type of information sharing.  Anyone can post sightings reports, photos, questions relating to the flats (you will need the editing password, which you can obtain by emailing Tom Johnson at:  tbj4@cornell.edu).  Then, after logging in, just click "edit" and add new sightings (eBird checklists are particularly recommended and contribute to a growing international data set on bird distribution).

 

The Conejohela Flats are a series of low islands in the Susquehanna River south of Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The islands, usually fringed with mud or sand flats, provide habitat and foraging sites for a plethora of breeding and especially migratory birds.  So many shorebirds use the Flats during spring and fall migration that it is designated by Pennsylvania Audubon to be a state Important Bird Area (IBA).  The Flats are "managed" at certain water levels by Safe Harbor Dam which is located only a few miles downriver.  Safe Harbor is required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to maintain river levels under 227.2 feet from April 15 though October 15 (check Safe Harbor water levels).  This agreement is part of their licensing agreement with FERC.  They also are required to maintain a certain amount of acreage vegetation-free for resting habitat for shorebirds and to conduct shorebird censuses periodically.  This agreement was reached after five plus years of negotiations with FERC, National Audubon, and the Lancaster County Planning Commission (fide Jerry Book).  The birding coverage of this site is amazing, especially from July - October during fall shorebird migration.  Generally someone will be on the Flats birding during this time period at least 3-4 days of the week.  Some folks bird the Flats casually, but quite often someone will be conducting surveys (either for Safe Harbor or the International Shorebird Survey), and most people keep track of the numbers of individuals of all the species they see while birding the Flats.  The goal of this wiki is to consolidate reports generated by birders at this phenomenal inland site and add to the ~50 years of data collected and archived by Jerry Book and other members of the Lancaster County Bird Club.  Shorebird migration data from 1987-2003 is available here.

 

For those of you looking to bird the Flats for the first time, check out the map, driving directions to the Flats, and other items of interest as they are collected.  A weather sidebar was added to this page as well (look to the right) to be able to view up-to-the-minute Washington Boro, PA weather conditions.  While there are some weather patterns that consistently yield high diversity or rarities, the Flats are generally unpredictable - any day can be "the day."  While this makes the birding exciting, you might have to put in some serious time before you hit a really fantastic day.  Fortunately, a mediocre day on the Conejohela Flats generally beats the pants off of a "good day" pretty much anywhere else in the state of Pennsylvania.  More important than weather in terms of seeing good numbers of shorebirds is the water level as dictated by the Safe Harbor Dam; generally the lower the water, the more exposed mud. the more shorebirds you'll find during the height of migration (peak of autumn migration being mid-August through September).  That being said, there are plenty of days with lots of mud (low water levels) without too many shorebirds, so again, its variable and hard to predict.

 

Access to the Flats is easiest by launching watercraft from the Blue Rock Rd. boat launch (see map).  Canoes and kayaks seem to work best because of the shallow water conditions often encountered, but several Flats regulars swear by their john boats powered by small-horsepower (i.e. 4-6 hp) prop motors.  Land access to view the Flats is a bit dodgy due to issues with the railroad company, Norfolk Southern Railroad.  At this point the overlook (~1/4 mile south of the boat launch along the railroad tracks) is only accessible to those who have a signed letter from Norfolk Southern Railroad giving specific and temporary authorization.  Distant views of Avocet Point and a good section of the eastern portion of the Susquehanna River can be had from the Blue Rock Rd. boat launch.  If you do bring a boat, please use good "launch etiquette" by taking turns on the ramp and parking your vehicle in the gravel parking lot (on the east side of the railroad tracks) instead of on the river side of the railroad tracks.  This is not a PA Fish & Boat Commission access launch, but is regularly used by numbers recreational boaters and waterfowl hunters (you will undoubtedly see quite a few of the hunters' duck/ goose blinds out on the river).

 

There are several things you should definitely bring if you bird the Flats for any length of time.  First, don't ever go out without a good supply of water - it gets hot out there during shorebird season.  Along the same lines, adequate sun protection/ sun block is necessary.  As for optics, a spotting scope with at least a 30x eyepiece is highly recommended for several reasons.  Often, you will be unable to get close to the birds because the mud/ substrate will be too treacherous.  More importantly, it is recommended not to approach shorebirds too closely on the Flats (after all, they are using the Flats as a refuge on their way south, and some, like southbound autumn Semipalmated Sandpipers, have a LONG way to go once they leave the Flats before they reach the wintering grounds - they don't need any additional stress), and so scoping from a distance is preferable.

 

There is a blind on the base (north end) of Avocet Point that is used by Flats birders and official surveyors to store chairs and shorebird decoys.  The decoys are used during surveys and are ALWAYS replaced after their [gentle] use.  Be particularly friendly to Ollie (the gorgeous American Oystercatcher decoy), please.  You are welcome to use the blind, but make sure you return the chairs inside when you are done using them and be sure to pack out any garbage/ bottles/ cans that you might bring with you.  On that note, if you find any garbage on the Flats, please consider picking it up/ taking it with you as well.  There is usually a Flats cleanup day in early spring to pick up debris and garbage washed in by winter storms and elevated water levels, but every little bit helps.

 

 

If you contribute a report, the newest sightings should go at the top of the reports section below (please use the date in bold as the header for your report addition).  As of 8/18/07, all of the 2007 PAbirds-listserv posts regarding the Flats have been added (thanks to Bob Schutsky, Cameron Rutt, and Deuane Hoffman for providing the bulk of these reports).  Please continue to add your reports, photos (some photos of the older historical rarities would be nice if you have them), anecdotes from the past, etc.  Of particular interest would be any notes on the age distribution of any group of shorebirds which you might encounter.  Data on arrival dates of adults, and perhaps even more importantly, juveniles, could be interesting when juxtaposed against climate change data from the Arctic breeding grounds of many of the shorebirds which use the Flats for resting and foraging on migration.  Also keep an eye out for any banded birds, especially shorebirds, cormorants, terns, and herons/ egrets.  Also, the Flats hosts a small population of breeding Prothonotary Warblers - please note numbers and locations if you observe nesting behavior (generally April-June/ July), as there is an effort ongoing to monitor a PROW nestbox trail on the islands.

 

 

Another note for those of you who go birding on the Flats and share reports (first, thank you for doing that!):  if you have a camera, please consider taking it with you and shooting photos of your finds, especially if you come across any troubling birds (identification-wise).  If you have questions about identification or anything else for that matter, please feel free to post something on the Forum page of this wiki.

 

AND FINALLY... IF YOU FIND AN UNUSUAL BIRD (A VAGRANT, SEASONAL RARITY, COMMON BIRD IN UNUSUAL PLUMAGE, INTERESTING BEHAVIOR, ETC) ON THE FLATS, PLEASE REPORT TO PABIRDS EMAIL LISTSERVER, POST IT HERE, AND CALL SOMEONE TO SPREAD THE WORD.  

 

 

Thanks and good birding,

 

Birders/ Stewards of the Conejohela Flats

 

 

Map

 

Driving Directions

 

Forum

 

Safe Harbor Water Level

 

Photos

 

Contact List

 

Anecdotes and Rarities

 

 

 

THE REPORTS

 

11/2/07

 

I kayaked around the Conejohela Flats for a few hours yesterday (11/2) afternoon (2:45 PM - 6:15 PM).  Water levels were fairly high, unlike most of the Friday afternoons I've been out there this fall.  Presumably the same Long-billed Dowitcher that was discovered 10/28 was lingering around the Flats, seen from the South Spit to Gull Island.  Waterfowl numbers, particularly dabbling ducks, continued to be fairly high and I believe there was a dark-winged scoter joining a distant flock of Bufflehead.  

 

  5 species of shorebirds:

Black-bellied Plover - 1   

Killdeer - 2

Greater Yellowlegs - 1

Dunlin - 1

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER - 1

 

  Other birds of note:

Common Loon - 9

Wood Duck - 26

Gadwall - 184

Northern Pintail - 11

American Wigeon - 43

Northern Shoveler - 11

BLUE-WINGED TEAL - 1

Green-winged Teal - 122

Ring-necked Duck - 38

Lesser Scaup - 2

Bufflehead - 17

Ruddy Duck - 11

American Coot - 700+

Peregrine Falcon - 1

SNOW BUNTING - 1 

 

  The Long-billed Dowitcher was also seen Monday, October 29th by Drew Weber and Andy McGann.  I wasn't able to obtain close looks at the bird as most of the views were in flight, however I assume it was the same individual.  The single flyover Snow Bunting adds to the flurry of late October/early November sightings of this species in PA.

 

      Good Birding,

           Cameron Rutt

 

10/28/07

 

Ramsay Koury and I fought some fairly blustery conditions in kayaking about

the Conejohela Flats for most of the morning (7:40 AM - 12:00 PM).  Water

levels were high for the entire time but did drop a bit towards midday.

Highlights include a nice study of a Long-billed Dowitcher, and continuing

high numbers of grebes, waterfowl (352 individual dabbling ducks, excluding

Mallards), and coots.  Bob Schutsky, Eric Witmer, and Tom Garner were also

out for most of the morning and likely had some additional goodies.  

 

  6 sps. of shorebirds:

Black-bellied Plover - 2

Killdeer - 1

Greater Yellowlegs - 3

Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 

Dunlin - 1

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER - 1

 

  Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe - 122 (!)

Common Loon - 2

BRANT - 1

Wood Duck - 1

American Black Duck - 4

Gadwall - 134

Northern Pintail - 17

American Wigeon - 32

Northern Shoveler - 12

Blue-winged Teal - 1

Green-winged Teal - 151

Ring-necked Duck - 34

Scaup species - 1

Bufflehead - 6

Ruddy Duck - 11

American Coot - 836 (!)

Bonaparte's Gull - 2

Peregrine Falcon - 1

 

    Good Birding,

          Cameron Rutt

 

10/26/07

 

Although Friday afternoon held less than desirable kayaking conditions, I

paddled around the Conejohela Flats for a good chunk of the afternoon (2:30

- 6:15 PM).  Water levels were pretty low by the time it was dark but the

greater amounts of exposed mud came late in the afternoon.  It was quite the

interesting assortment of birds. 

 

  7 sps. of shorebirds:

Black-bellied Plover - 2

Semipalmated Plover - 1

Killdeer - 14

Greater Yellowlegs - 5

RUDDY TURNSTONE - 1 (late)

DUNLIN - 292 (Flats high count!)

Wilson's Snipe - 2

 

  Other birds of note:

Common Loon - 7

Pied-billed Grebe - 95 (!)

Great Egret - 1

BRANT - 1 juvenile

Blue-winged Teal - 2

American Coot - 718 (!)

Bonaparte's Gull - 14

Laughing Gull - 3 (2 adults/1 juvenile)

Common Tern - 2

Forster's Tern - 1

Bald Eagle – 1

Swamp Sparrow - #

 

   Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

 

10/19/07

 

I don't have too much to add to Bob Schutsky's post from earlier in the day.  Only one new shorebird presented itself in the form of a single Pectoral Sandpiper bringing the daily total to 8 shorebird species.  I was able to view and photograph one of the Baird's Sandpipers that Bob had seen earlier in the day.  Checking the last 10 years of records from the Flats, only 2 Baird's Sandpipers have been seen beyond mid-October (with both occurring in the latter half of October).  

 

  A highlight was certainly the growing concentration of Pied-billed Grebes which reached 80 birds today (!).  Almost all of these could be seen from the South Spit (78) with the other 2 hanging around Gull Island.  There was also an extremely cooperative American Bittern that could be scoped from the South Spit.  This bold individual strayed from the concealing shoreline vegetation for minutes on end.  As I kayaked by the location a little while later, I once again noticed the bird in a fairly obvious position.  From the kayak, the bird provided tremendous looks as it crept, froze, and hunted for 10-15 minutes at close range.  

 

     Good Birding,

          Cameron Rutt

 

 

10/5/07

 

  10 sps. of shorebirds:

American Golden-Plover - 1 juv.

Black-bellied Plover - 4 (at least 3 juv.)

Semipalmated Plover - 2

Killdeer - 27

Greater Yellowlegs - 2

Lesser Yellowlegs - 1

Least Sandpiper - 1

STILT SANDPIPER - 1 first-winter

Pectoral Sandpiper - 5

Wilson's Snipe - 2

 

 Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe - 65 (!)

Great Egret - 9

Northern Pintail - 1

Northern Shoveler - 26

Blue-winged Teal - 4

Green-winged Teal - 26

SORA - 1

Northern Harrier - 1

Merlin - 1

Peregrine Falcon - 1      

Marsh Wren - 1

Lincoln's Sparrow - 1

White-crowned Sparrow - 1 imm.

 

 Amazingly, the number of Pied-billed Grebes continues to increase out at the Flats.  Yesterday evening's 65 tops the 40 and 32 tallied on 9/21/07 and 9/14/07 respectively.  There has been some recent discussion of how it seems to be a nice fall for American Golden-Plovers in the greater Susquehanna River region.  So I went back through my records and yesterday's American Golden-Plover marks the 109th that I have seen in PA since 8/31/07.  This is in comparison to the 15 Black-bellied Plovers I've had since 8/25/07 (greater than a 7:1 ratio of AMGP to BBPL).

 

  Good Birding,

      Cameron Rutt

 

9/28/07

 

  9 sps. of shorebirds:

American Golden-Plover - 5 juv.

Semipalmated Plover - 3 (at least 2 juv.)

Killdeer - 30

Lesser Yellowlegs - 2 (at least 1 juv.)

Sanderling - 2 juv. (1 molting in some gray scapulars)

White-rumped Sandpiper - 1 molting adult

Least Sandpiper - 4 juv.

Pectoral Sandpiper - 25 mostly/all juv.

Wilson's Snipe - 1

 

 Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe - 22

Great Egret - 12

Black-crowned Night-Heron - 1

AMERICAN BITTERN - 1

Snow Goose - 1 adult flyover

Green-winged Teal - 20

SORA - 2-3

Peregrine Falcon - 2      

 

 As far as I am aware, the American Bittern, Snow Goose, Sora, and Wilson's Snipe all represent firsts of the season for the Flats.  The highlight was certainly the first Sora that I flushed on Sharptail Island.  Amazingly, this bird actually landed among vegetation ~12 feet up a tree!  The bird remained perched atop a mat of bur cucumber that was draped over a silver maple.  It stayed for a number of minutes, peering around the vegetation, I assume, to keep an eye on me.  This was probably the only time I ever had to look up to a rail.  Because of the odd situation, I was able to obtain fairly nice views of the "treed" Sora.  The bird was an adult that appeared to be molting out of its breeding plumage as the black in the face and throat were mottled.  Unless this first Sora pulled a fast one on me, I had 3 Soras at different locations.  

 

  Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

 

9/21/07

 

   6 sps. of shorebirds:

American Golden-Plover - 15 juv.

Semipalmated Plover - 7

Killdeer - 117

Lesser Yellowlegs - 4

Baird's Sandpiper - 1 juv.

Least Sandpiper - 10

 

  Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe - 40 (!)

Great Egret - 13

Blue-winged Teal - 39

Northern Shoveler - 8

Green-winged Teal - 23

Ring-necked Duck - 2

Caspian Tern - 2

Marsh Wren - 1

American Pipit - 1 (first of season for the Flats)

 

 The count of 15 American Golden-Plovers at one time was certainly a treat and represents a high count for this species on the Flats this year.  I was almost decapitated by 9 of these golden-plovers that swiftly flew very low overhead while I was paddling between islands.  Surprisingly, the number of Pied-billed Grebes today increased from the count of 32 tallied a week ago.  According to <http://conejohelaflats.pbwiki.com/Map> the Marsh Wren found this afternoon was on Sharptail Island 2.0.  As I followed this individual back towards the kayak, it eventually settled into a wet region with cattails.  It then proceeded to sing an admittedly weak/strained version of its song for quite some time.  All of the eastern swallows were seen this afternoon (minus Purple Martin) with increased numbers of Northern Rough-winged Swallow compared to previous weeks.      

 

   Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

 

9/17/07
A morning of birding the Conejohela Flats with Andy McGann produced a
notable number of swallows. A huge flock of swallows was roosting on Avocet
Point (~2000) split pretty evenly between Bank and Tree Swallows.
Rough-winged, Barn and Cliff were also seen. Water levels were high all
morning but we still had some shorebirds, including several flocks of Least
Sandpipers that flew in just as we were leaving. A Yellow Warbler was
another nice sighting.

Shorebirds-
American Golden-Plover- 3 (1 on Avocet when we arrived, plus two birds that
flew over)
Semipalmated Plover- 8
Lesser Yellowlegs- 1
Least Sandpiper- 65
Semipalmated Sandpiper- 5
Pectoral Sandpiper- 13

Other interesting birds-
Caspian Tern- 1
Bald Eagle- 3
Red-shouldered Hawk- 1 juv
Blue-winged Teal- 4

Drew Weber
Bird-in-Hand, PA

 9/16/07

 

  6 sps. of shorebirds:

Semipalmated Plover – 8 (the 4 aged birds were all juv.)

Killdeer – 1

Lesser Yellowlegs – 7

Semipalmated Sandpiper – 2 juv.

Least Sandpiper – 16

Pectoral Sandpiper – 15

 

 Other highlights:

Pied-billed Grebe – 3

Great Egret – 16

Both teal

Peregrine Falcon – 1

Cliff, Barn, Bank, Tree, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows

 

  10 sps. of warblers:

Northern Parula – 1

Nashville Warbler – 1

Tennessee Warbler – 1

Yellow Warbler – 1

Magnolia Warbler – 1

Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1

Common Yellowthroat – 1

   Others added Wilson’s, Palm, and a waterthrush

Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 1

Indigo Buntings

 

  Good Birding,

     Cameron Rutt

 

 9/14/07  

 

   9 sps. of shorebirds:

Black-bellied Plover - 1 juv. (perhaps the first juv. of the season)

Semipalmated Plover - 4

Killdeer - 6

Greater Yellowlegs - 1

Lesser Yellowlegs - 19

Semipalmated Sandpiper - 13

Least Sandpiper - 68

Pectoral Sandpiper - 18

Stilt Sandpiper - 3

 

  Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe - 32 (!)

Little Blue Heron - 1 juv.

Northern Pintail - 4

American Wigeon - 2

Northern Shoveler - 10

both teal

Peregrine Falcon - 2 (at least 1 was an imm.)

Caspian Tern - 1

Forster's Tern - 1

MARSH WREN - 1

Yellow Warbler - 3

 

Ducks seemed to be fairly plentiful with my first American Wigeon and Northern Pintails of the fall noted.  However, more surprising was the number of Pied-billed Grebes.  Although larger concentrations have been recorded, I think this is my highest single site count for the state.  There were even little groups of 8 and 10 Pied-billed Grebes and at least one individual still retained its juvenile face pattern.  The Marsh Wren was camped out in the only suggestion of "habitat" at the south tip of Avocet Point - a duck blind.  The bird skulked around in the vegetation that was arranged to encase the blind and was still there 3.5 hours after I originally disturbed it.   Lastly, it seems to be getting on the late side of migration/dispersal for Little Blue Heron, Caspian Tern, and Yellow Warbler so I was pleased to see all three of these species.

 

  Good Birding,

     Cameron Rutt

 

9/7/07

 

  7 sps. of shorebirds:

American Golden-Plover - 1 ad.

Semipalmated Plover - 11

Killdeer - 127

Lesser Yellowlegs - 13

Sanderling - 1 juv.

Semipalmated Sandpiper - 4

Least Sandpiper - 27

 

  Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe - 1

Blue-winged Teal - 1

Northern Shoveler - 9

Hooded Merganser -  2

Great Egret - 12

Little Blue Heron - 1

Osprey - 3

Bald Eagle - 4

Forster's Tern - 3

Bank Swallow - 1

Yellow Warbler - 2

 

   Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

 

9/6/07

 

  6 sps. of shorebirds:

American Golden-Plover – 5 (2 ad., 3 juv. w/the large Killdeer flock)

Killdeer – 179

Semipalmated Plover – 11 (looked to be all juv.)

Lesser Yellowlegs – 3 juv.

Semipalmated Sandpiper – 2 (1 molting ad.)

Least Sandpiper – 8

 

  Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe – 5

Great Egret - ~5

Bald Eagle – 4 (1 ad.)

Osprey – 2

 

   Good Birding,

      Cameron Rutt

 

9/6/07

 

Out in the morning with Myna. Water levels were a bit high, no mud at South Spit, but not top level. List of shorebirds not available but best birds were....

 

2 Red-necked Phalaropes located in the HUGE grass mat around South Spit and

 

1 juv. Buff-breasted Sanpiper at Avocet Point.

 

I know Cameron was out in the afternoon so maybe he has some numbers to add??

 

Also of note....Manor Township received a state recreation fund grant......with this they are going to blacktop the boat ramp with 2 inches of macadam AND I helped them install a brand spankin' new floating boat dock!! This way people will be able to load and unload with out getting wet....a nice feature when the water temperatures take a downturn!

 

9/2/07

 

The Flats were covered for the most of the day yesterday.  Deuane Hoffman

and Eric Witmer provided coverage for the morning and I floated out about

three hours later for the afternoon shift.  Water levels were fairly high

for most of the day but did drop towards evening providing some additional

shorebird habitat.  Overall, numbers seemed to be fairly consistent

throughout the day with a couple nice additions dropping in during the

afternoon.

 

AM/PM

 

 12 sps. of shorebirds:

American Golden-Plover - 0/1 juv.

Killdeer - 100/91

Semipalmated Plover - 12/10 juv.

Lesser Yellowlegs - 25/23

Greater Yellowlegs - 1/3

Spotted Sandpiper - 2/0

Baird's Sandpiper - 0/1 juv.

White-rumped Sandpiper - 1/1 molting adult

Semipalmated Sandpiper - 5/13

Least Sandpiper - 50/63

Pectoral Sandpiper - 12/4

Short-billed Dowitcher - 1/1 juv.

 

 Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe - 2

Little Blue Heron - 1

Bald Eagle - 11 (2 ad./9 imm.)

Merlin - 1

American Coot - 1

Laughing Gull - 1

Caspian Tern - 3

Forster's Tern - 1

Least Flycatcher - 1

the swallow sweep

 

 This fall has seemed to produce very few Baird's Sandpipers at the Flats.

Scanning through all of the posted shorebird numbers from the Flats thus far

reveals that the juvenile Baird's today was only the 4th for the fall.

There was 1 on 8/17 and 2 more on 8/28.

 

   Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

 

9/1/07

 

1 RUFF was observed at Conejohela Flats IBA, Lancaster County on 1 SEPTEMBER, 2007 by Tom Amico.

 

Details from Tom Amico:  I had a Reeve out on the lower flats toward Turkey Point on Saturday afternoon.  Was able to get down on the flats to scope well in good light. I did not have a good enough camera to attempt a photo.  It was with 5 Lesser Yellowlegs. About same size. very dark and blotchy, legs were what I would say orangish. Bill two toned dark at tip and lighter at the base. It did not fly or make any noise. It was still there when I left.

 

8/31/07

 

I was able to kayak out to the Conejohela Flats this afternoon/evening (5:00

- 7:30 PM).  Water levels were very low with extensive habitat (the Safe

Harbor website estimated the level to be at 225.2 when I arrived).

 

 11 sps. of shorebirds:

American Golden-Plover - 1 adult

Semipalmated Plover - 14

Lesser Yellowlegs - 37

Spotted Sandpiper - 1

Sanderling - 1 adult

Semipalmated Sandpiper - 20

Least Sandpiper - 192

Pectoral Sandpiper - 2

Stilt Sandpiper - 3 juv.

BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER - 1 juv.

Short-billed Dowitcher - 4 juv.

 

 Other birds of note:

Northern Shoveler - 1

Blue-winged Teal - 45

Green-winged Teal - 23

Bonaparte's Gull - 2

Caspian Tern - 2

Forster's Tern - 2

 

 During Tropical Storm Ernesto last year, 14 Stilt Sandpipers stopped by

the Flats on 2 September 2006.  If I remember correctly, I believe they were

all juveniles with replaced scapulars that were a contrasty pale gray.

However, the Stilt Sandpipers that were out at the Flats today didn't have

any scapulars replaced and appeared to be completely in juvenile plumage.

They were subtly very handsome, with intricately marked coverts and

scapulars and a colorful wash to the breast.

 

    Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

 

8/29/07

 

 9 sps. of shorebirds:

Killdeer – 149

Semipalmated Plover – 11 (4 juv.)

Black-bellied Plover – 1 adult

Greater Yellowlegs – 2

Lesser Yellowlegs – 6 (1 ad.)

Spotted Sandpiper – 2 juv.

Solitary Sandpiper – 1

Pectoral Sandpiper – 2 ad.

Least Sandpiper – 9

 

  Other birds of note:

Little Blue Heron – 1 juv.  

Blue-winged Teal    

Green-winged Teal

American Coot – 1

Bonaparte’s Gull – 1 juv.

Laughing Gull – 1 juv.

Caspian Tern – 3 (1 juv.)

Forster’s Tern – 1 juv.

Bald Eagle – 2 

   Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

 

8/28/07

 

 

First a late posting about a short outing on Tuesday 8/28...

 

I purchased a new kayak and of course felt the need to take it out for it's virgin cruise and how could anywhere but the Flats be the place to go?

 

I launched from the RR crossing where PA 999 and 441 jct. I checked the Volleyball Net area and then paddled down to Gull Island and back.

 

Best birds....1 juv. Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the Volleyball Net

 

                    nice collections of peeps at Gull to include

 

                    97 Least Sandpiper

                    16 Semipalmated Sandpiper

                       2 Western Sandpiper

                       2 Baird's Sandpiper

 

Deuane Hoffman

 

8/26/07

 

  11 sps. of shorebirds (making 15 for the weekend)

Black-bellied Plover – 2 ad.

Killdeer – 9

Semipalmated Plover – 9

Spotted Sandpiper – 2 (1 juv.)

Solitary Sandpiper – 1

Greater Yellowlegs – 6

Lesser Yellowlegs – 8

Semipalmated Sandpiper – 11

Least Sandpiper – 20+ (?)

Pectoral Sandpiper – 1

Dowitcher sps – 2 flyby

 

  Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe – 3

Great Egret – 42+ (32 counted at once)

Black-crowned Night-Heron – 3

PLEGADIS sp. – 3 flyovers at 7:45 AM.  These birds flew almost directly over

Avocet Point but did not make any attempt to land.  They were headed south

initially – behind a flock of Great Egrets – before veering SE and disappearing

in the distance.  A flock of 11 briefly visited the Flats just two days prior.

Blue-winged Teal – 17

Green-winged Teal – 5

Laughing Gull – 1 juv.

Bonaparte’s Gull – 4 imm.

Caspian Tern – ~30 (20 counted at once, however multiple times birds were

seen coming in from the north in flocks…It was hard to get an accurate count,

especially if these birds were simply just doing the circuit.  There were at least 3 juv.

Common Tern – 1 ad.

Forster’s Tern – 4 (1 juv.)

Black Tern – 15

Yellow Warbler – 1

Northern Waterthrush – 1

 

  Good Birding,

     Cameron Rutt

 

8/25/07

 

  13 sps. of shorebirds:

Black-bellied Plover – 4 ad.

Killdeer

Semipalmated Plover – 8

WILLET – 1 “Western” juv.  It was likely the same individual that

was found the previous day.  The bird was present until 6:53 PM

when it took off heading north and then hooked east. 

Spotted Sandpiper – 2 (1 juv.)

Lesser Yellowlegs – 18

Sanderling – 2 juv.

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER – 6 ad.

Western Sandpiper – 1 juv.

Semipalmated Sandpiper – 4

Least Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper – 2

Short-billed Dowitcher – 11 (at least 9 of which were juv.)

 

  Other birds of note:

Pied-billed Grebe – 1

Little Blue Heron – 1 juv.

Bald Eagle

Laughing Gull – 1 juv.

Caspian Tern – 3

Forster’s Tern – 2

Eastern Screech-Owl – 1 calling before midnight from Green Island

Bobolink – 3 flyovers

   Good Birding,

        Cameron Rutt

8/25/07 

 

Cameron Rutt just called (6:30 PM) with a sighting of a juvenile

inornatus Willet on Avocet Point on the Conejohela Flats in Washington

Boro.  This is likely the bird reported yesterday by Bob et al.

Cameron says the bird would be visible from shore if folks are

interested in getting out there before dark.  He also recorded

White-rumped and Western Sandpipers on the Flats today.

Cheers,

Tom

--

Thomas Brodie Johnson

Ithaca, NY

tbj4@cornell.edu

mobile:  717.991.5727

 

 

8/24/07

 

It was an excellent morning on the Conejohela Flats. The water level was

very high, which left relatively little shorebird habitat. This worked

in our favor to concentrate the migrating shorebirds. Highlights of the

morning were a juvenile Western Willet (reported earlier by Jason Horn}

and a flock of 11 Glossy Ibis.

 

Tom Amico, Deuane Hoffman, Jason Horn, Andy McGann and I  found 13 species of shorebirds this morning between 7:45 AM and 1:00 PM:

 

American Golden-Plover--1

Black-bellied Plover--1

Semipalmated Plover--13

Killdeer--32

Greater Yellowlegs--7

Lesser Yellowlegs--12

Solitary Sandpiper--1

(Western) WILLET--1 juv

Spotted Sandpiper--4

Sanderling--2

Semipalmated Sandpiper--2

Least Sandpiper--46

WESTERN SANDPIPER--3

 

Additional highlights include:

 

Osprey--8

Bald Eagle--2 ad, 3 imm

Little Blue Heron--1 imm

GLOSSY IBIS--eleven! This is the largest flock that any of the six of us

could remember for many years. We searched them carefully for

White-faced Ibis, with no luck. The remained in close view for about 10

minutes, then took off downriver.

Bonaparte's Gull--2

Laughing Gull--1 imm

Caspian Tern--2

Forster's Tern--2

BLACK TERN--5

American Coot--1

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

 

 

8/19/07

 

Greetings,

 

Had a good day at the flats today, completely overcast in morning with some

drizzle. Then some more light rain after

Noontime. Cool and rainy, but kept pretty dry. Spent most of the day (from 7:00

am. to 4:00 pm.) at Avocet Point but

did make one foray to Gull Island, then swung the kayak towards the South Spit

on the way back to Avocet. But there

were no South Spit Sandbars visible above waterline, Some Gulls were standing on

the spit but there feet were covered

by water so there were no "small" shorebirds there.  I was joined about Noon by

John McNamara, and right after he got

there he spotted a pair of Dowitchers that had evidently just arrived. They

turned out to be 2 very handsomely plumaged

juvenal Short-billed Dowitchers. Later on we had a single Long-billed Dowitcher.

Then later 6 Short-billed Dowitchers

fly over a few times.

 

The best bird was a Non Breeding Plumaged Adult WILSON'S PHALAROPE, a good find

for Penna. It was with a Lesser

Yellowlegs and it took a while for me to realize this was not a "weirdly plumaged", ghostly white Yellowlegs. As soon

as it got into a little deeper water and those yellow legs were hidden did it

dawn on me that it was a phalarope, then

consulted the Sibley's to confirm Wilson's. John got some good digiscope

pictures of it alongside the Yellowlegs.

 

We got good looks at the Long-billed Dowitcher, and the clincher was its flight

call as it took off.

 

I awoke from a cat-nap about 3:30 to find 2 Black-belied Plovers feeding out in

front of the blind about 100 yds. away.

I watched them till I left, and they were still feeding voraciously on worms or

nightcrawlers pulled from Avocet Point.

 

The Shorebirds there today and their approximate numbers follow;

 

13 SPECIES OF SHOREBIRDS

 

Black-belied Plover            2

Semi-palmated Plover       20

Killdeer                            30

Greater Yellowlegs             4

Lesser Yellowlegs             6

Solitary Sandpiper             2

Spotted Sandpiper            4

Semi-palmated Sandpiper  10

Least Sandpiper               60

Pectoral Sandpiper           10

Sh-billed Dowitcher           8

Long-billed Dowitcher        1

WILSON'S PHALAROPE   1

 

Other Notable sightings.

 

Dbl.Crested Cormorant         20

Pied-billed Grebe                  1

Gr.Blue Heron                      25

Great Egret                          50

Green Heron                         4

Wood Duck                          20

Blue-wng.Teal   surprise        8

Osprey                                 4

Bald Eagle                           10  2 Adults  8  im.

Greater Black-back Gull        1

Ring-billed Gull                     100

Caspian Tern                        8    6 adult   2  im.

Forster's Tern                       1

Yellow-billed Cuckoo             1

Chimney Swift                      1

Ruby-thro.Hummingbird         1

Belted Kingfisher                   4

N.Flicker                              1

Purple Martins                      10

Tree Swallows                      200

Bank Swallows                     500

Barn Swallows                      100

 

 

55 Species Total

 

 

Happy Trails

Chuck Chalfant

Gap, Penna.

 
8/18/07

 

Four of us birded the Conejohela Flats this morning. The group included

Paul Kunstek from NJ, Eric Witmer, Tom Amico and me. The weather was

glorious, and there was enough habitat available to attract plenty of

migrant shorebirds. We found twelve species today:

 

Black-bellied Plover--4

Semipalmated Plover--14

Killdeer--55

Greater Yellowlegs--4

Lesser Yellowlegs--16

Solitary Sandpiper--1

Spotted Sandpiper--1

Semipalmated Sandpiper--25

Least Sandpiper--191

Pectoral Sandpiper--11

Short-billed Dowitcher--9

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER--1, same plumage, very possibly the same bird, as

the one we had yesterday.

 

Additional highlights include:

 

Osprey--4

Bald Eagle--1 adult, 6 imm

Pied-billed Grebe--1

American Coot--1

Cattle Egret--1

Herring Gull--2 juv

Great Black-backed Gull--1 ad

Caspian Tern--4 ad, 1 juv

Common Tern--2 ad

Forster's Tern--1 ad

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

8/17/07

 

Today was an excellent day on the Conejohela Flats on the Susquehanna

River in Lancaster County. The highlights have already been posted, but

here is the full report.

 

I birded the Flats today from 7:45 AM to 4:15 PM. Water level was low

and held steady all day. Water temp was 84 F, air temps ranged from

79-87 F. Winds were calm most of the day, then picked up to W at 10-15

late in the afternoon. Sky ranged from clear but hazy, to a light shower

at noon, to LOTS of thunder and lightning, to partly cloudy. The mid-day

storm missed us by a few miles to the north.

 

I found a total of 13 species of shorebirds today: AM/PM

 

Semipalmated Plover--12/13

Killdeer--55/92

Greater Yellowlegs--3/2

Lesser Yellowlegs--10/6

Spotted Sandpiper--5/4

MARBLED GODWIT--2 juv/0. The godwits flew in at 8:30 AM and were gone by

10 AM.

Semipalmated Sandpiper--1/7

Least Sandpiper--45/72

BAIRD'S SANDPIPER--0/1

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER--0/2

Pectoral Sandpiper--2/3

Short-billed Dowitcher--6/8

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER--0/1 ad

 

Additional highlights included (totals for the day):

 

Wood Duck--75

Northern Shoveler--1

Osprey--6

Bald Eagle--2 ad, 13 imm

CATTLE EGRET--1. At 0745 it was perched near the Blue Rock Road boat

launch. At 1615 it flew over the boat launch toward Rookery Island. It

was not seen at all between these two times. Most likely it was feeding

in the nearby fields.

Green Heron--9

Bonaparte's Gull--2 juv

Caspian Tern--3 ad, 3 juv

Forster's Tern--2 ad

Common Tern--1 ad

 

Late in the afternoon we found a juvenile Osprey that had a USFWS band

on the right leg, nothing on the left leg. Unfortunately we proobably do

not have enough info to determine its origin.

 

GREAT day on the Flats!

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

 

8/14/07

 

It was another beautiful afternoon on the Conejohela Flats. I birded the

Flats from 11:45 AM to 4:15 PM under clear skies, light winds, low

humidity, no haze, and comfortable temperatures. The water level was

low, exposing lots of good habitat.

 

I found eleven species of shorebirds:

 

Black-bellied Plover--1

Semipalmated Plover--28

Killdeer--69

Greater Yellowlegs--2

Lesser Yellowlegs--29

Spotted Sandpiper--3

Semipalmated Sandpiper--16

Least Sandpiper--126

WESTERN SANDPIPER--1

Pectoral Sandpiper--2

Short-billed Dowitcher--1

 

Additional highlights included:

 

Blue-winged Teal--4

Green-winged Teal--2

NORTHERN SHOVELER--1, first of the season

Bald Eagle--4 imm

Osprey--2

 

Four species of gulls,

Bonaparte's--1 juv

Ring-billed--900

Herring--1 juv

Great Black-backed--2 ad, 1 juv

 

Common Tern--1 ad

Caspian Tern--1 ad

 

And, the final highlight, all of the trash has been picked up on Avocet

Point, Gull Island, and the Blue Rock Road boat launch and parking lot.

Many different individuals are helping, including birders, fisherman,

hunters, and recreational boaters. NICE!

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

 

 

8/11/07

 

I was on the Conejohela Flats yesterday (Saturday) from 11:45 AM to 4:30

PM. Sky was partly cloudy, wind NE at 5-10 mph. Air temp was 78-86 F,

water temp 85 F. Water level was in the mid-range and dropped 2" late in

the afternoon. Deuane, Carolyn, Kathy, and Jerry had been out all

morning, so they had a few species pinned down when I arrived. In

addition to the 11 species listed below, they saw two Western Sandpipers

that continued on their migration before I arrived.

 

Eleven species of shorebirds were tallied:

 

Black-bellied Plover--1

Semipalmated Plover--15

Killdeer--95

Greater Yellowlegs--2

Lesser Yellowlegs--10

Spotted Sandpiper--2

Sanderling--2

Semipalmated Sandpiper--5

Least Sandpiper--118

Pectoral Sandpiper--4

Short-billed Dowitcher--26

 

Additional highlights include:

 

Osprey--3

Bald Eagle--1 adult, 9 imm

Black-crowned Night-Heron--1 juv

Bonaparte's Gull--2 juv

Ring-billed Gull--1175, first time I remember the gull count going past

1000 since the spring migration.

Great Black-backed Gull--1 adult

Caspian Tern-- 2 ad, 2 juv

Forster's Tern--1 ad

American Coot--1

 

It was a very nice day with a lot of activity.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

8/10/07

 

Tom Amico and I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 8:15 AM to 1:00

PM. We were joined by Tom Johnson, Deuane Hoffman, Myna, Kathy

Goodblood and Jerry Stanley. The sky was partly cloudy and quite foggy

at the start. Wind was calm to NW at 5-10 mph. Air temps 75-84 F, water

temp 83 F. Water level was down a bit early and dropped another 1-2"

during the morning.

 

We found eleven species of shorebirds:

 

Semipalmated Plover--4

Killdeer--34

Greater Yellowlegs--1

Lesser Yellowlegs--12

Spotted Sandpiper--2

Solitary Sandpiper--1

RUDDY TURNSTONE--1, first of the season

Semipalmated Sandpiper--3

Least Sandpiper--59

Pectoral Sandpiper--6

Short-billed Dowitcher--1

 

Other birds of interest include:

 

Osprey--6

Bald Eagle--2 ad, 4 imm

Red-shouldered Hawk--1 juv. Tom Johnson believes that they nested on

Rookery Island this year. He saw an adults and heard begging calls from

young.

Bonaparte's Gull--2 juv

Caspian Tern--2 ad, 1 juv. One of the adults was color-banded. Tom

Johnson may have info on the origin of this bird at a later date.

Forster's Tern--1 ad

American Coot--1

Prothonotary Warbler--1 singing

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

 

8/4/2007

 

Dear PABirders,

 

Tom Amico and I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 11:45 AM to 4:30

PM. The water level was high and dropped about 2" during the afternoon.

Water temp was 88 F. Air temp ranged from 83-93 F. Sky was fairly hazy

to start then cleared. There were no clouds. It was a productive and

comfortable day on the Flats.

 

We found 10 species of shorebirds:

 

Semipalmated Plover--12

Killdeer--141

Greater Yellowlegs--1

Lesser Yellowlegs--12

Spotted Sandpiper--4

Semipalmated Sandpiper--8

Least Sandpiper--292

White-rumped Sandpiper--1

Pectoral Sandpiper--4

Short-billed Dowitcher--2

 

Additional highlights include the following lingerers:

 

Lesser Scaup--1 drake

Hooded Merganser--1 juv

American Coot--1 adult

 

And . . .

 

Double-crested Cormorant--40

Bald Eagle--3 ad, 5 imm

Osprey--5

Great Egret--60

Bonaparte's Gull 1 juv, first of the season

Caspian Tern--2 ad

Forster's Tern--5 (4 ad, 1 imm)

Common Tern--2 ad

Black Tern--1 ad

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

 

8/1/07

 

Howdy All,

 

Never did get this posted to PA BIRDS......Took out a couple from England via South carolina to the Flats. They were visiting relatives that live about a mile from me. Spent from 0730 to 1030 on the Flats. Water levels started at medium height and dropped nicely all morning, when we lwft at 1030 there was LOTS of habitat.

 

Best non-shorebird was an adult Bonaparte's Gull that was loafing around on South Spit

 

Shorebirds....

 

Killdeer 16

Semipalmated Plover 1

Black-bellied Plover 1

Solitary Sandpiper 1

Spotted Sandpiper 2

Pectoral sandpiper 1

Lesser Yellowlegs 3

Semipalmated Sandpiper 7

Least sandpiper 78

 

Take care,

Deuane

 

7/31/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

The weather was very pleasant on the Flats this morning, a nice change

from the recent heat and humidity. The sky was clear, winds from the

north at 5-10, air temps 73-81 F. The water level was high and steady,

water temp 81 F.

 

I found five species of shorebirds this morning:

 

Semipalmated Plover--2

Killdeer--12

Spotted Sandpiper--6

Semipalmated Sandpiper--2

Least Sandpiper--104. Small flocks of mostly 5-20 birds were migrating

steadily from 8-10:30 AM. They would come in, spend 5-10 minutes

bathing, preening, and feeding, then continue south. The Semipalmated

Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers arrived and departed with the Leasts.

 

Additional highlights include:

 

Lesser Scaup--1 drake

Bald Eagle--1 ad, 5 imm

Osprey--4

Great Egret--25

Forster's Tern--4

Common Tern--1

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

 

7/30/07

 

Howdy All,

After being out of town for most of the month I couldn't wait to hit the Flats
once I got home. Andy McGann, Myna (who also couldn't wait to get back out on
and into the river!) and I birded the Flats from 0830 til noon. The water level
was high and actually rose a little while we were there. Due to this shorebird
numbers were low but we still managed to pick up a goody.

Shorebirds---

Semipalmated Plover--3
Killdeer--2

Least sandpiper-- 21 adults
2 juvenile

Semiplamated sandpiper--1
Spotted sandpiper--5
Greater Yellowlegs--1
American Avocet--1 female

The Avocet was first heard. We then located it as it flew past us and went
downriver and finally settled in with a small gull flock around 10 AM. The bird
was actively flying from spot to spot until we left. At that point it was wading
near the big log and the end of the hook on Avocet Point.

Not much else to note save for the increase in the swallow numbers. The vast
majority, 95%, of the hundreds of swallows flying around were bank. This was augmented by smaller
numbers of tree, barn, rough-winged and one lone purple martin.

A very nice welcome back for me! It sure is nice to get away to see, taste and
hear things away from home....but it sure is special to come back and enjoy a
place such as this!

Take care and Good birding,
Raven
a.k.a. Deuane Hoffman
Harrisburg, PA, Dauphin County
corvuscorax@comcast.net
 
7/28/07
Dear PABirders,

 

Tom Amico and I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 11:30 AM to 4 PM,

joined by Andy McGann later in the afternoon. It was a hazy, hot, and

humid. Air temps ranged from 80 to 90 F, water temp was 85 F. There were

light winds from the south.

 

We found nine species of shorebirds today:

 

Killdeer--78

Greater Yellowlegs--3

Lesser Yellowlegs--1

Spotted Sandpiper--13

Sanderling--3

Semipalmated Sandpiper--3

Least Sandpiper--256

Pectoral Sandpiper--5

Short-billed Dowitcher--2

 

Additional highlights include:

 

Lesser Scaup, the continuing drake

Bald Eagle--1 imm, 1 age undetermined

Osprey--3

Pied-billed Grebe--1

Great Egret--33

Black-crowned Night-Heron--1 imm

Forster's Tern--2 ad, i juv. This is the first juvenile of the season.

Common Tern--1 ad

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

 

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

7/25/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

Les Eastman and I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 8 AM until

about 12:30 PM. Water level was low, exposing lots of shorebird habitat.

Air temps were 68 to 82 F, water temp 76 F. Sky was partly cloudy, wind

calm to SE at 10-15 mph.

 

We found eight species of shorebirds today:

 

Semipalmated Plover--1

Killdeer--51

Greater Yellowlegs--1

Spotted Sandpiper--7

Semipalmated Sandpiper--11

Least Sandpiper--252, including a few juveniles, my first of the year.

Pectoral Sandpiper--2

Short-billed Dowitcher--3

 

Other birds of interest include:

 

Hooded Merganser--1 juv, probably the same bird as seen Saturday.

Bald Eagle--3 ad, 8 imm

Osprey--6

Great Blue Heron--76, a very high count

Great Egret--17

Snowy Egret--1

American Coot--1, present for about 3 weeks

Great Black-backed Gull--1 ad

Caspian Tern--2 ad

Forster's Tern--2 ad

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 
7/24/07
 
All,

This afternoon made for some fantastic Conejohela Flats birding.

Strong south winds and occasional rainshowers concentrated good

numbers of shorebirds on the flats between 1pm and 5pm.  When I

arrived, a juvenile/ subadult type Plegadis ibis was tucked in on

South Spit, so I kayaked down to get a closer look.  This bird had a

thickish, splotchy pink bill, a largely dark face, dull green

upperparts, and white patches on its otherwise dull brownish neck.

Later, an adult Glossy Ibis joined junior and both remained when I

left the flats at 5pm.  Combined with a dancing adult Snowy Egret that

hung around Avocet Point all afternoon, these waders gave the Flats a

distinctly Delmarva-esque feel.  11 species of shorebirds were

evident, with the stars being the first Stilt Sandpipers of the fall

(3 adults), a big group (97) of Semipalmated Sandpipers that came down

with the rain, and 2 adult Sanderlings.  A shorebird lowlight was a

very black Least Sandpiper that appeared to be covered in some kind of

oil or tar.  This bird was very actively trying to preen (in vain, I'm

afraid) for most of the afternoon.

Photos of the young ibis and one of the Sanderlings can be found at:

http://picasaweb.google.com/jaegermaster/PennsylvaniaSummer2007

 

An eBird list follows...

Peace,

Tom

 

Location:     Conejohela Flats IBA

Observation date:     7/24/07

Number of species:     47

 

Canada Goose     85

Wood Duck     6

American Black Duck     2

Mallard     10

Blue-winged Teal     1

Lesser Scaup     1

Double-crested Cormorant     6

Great Blue Heron     45

Great Egret     20

Snowy Egret     1

Green Heron     1

Black-crowned Night-Heron     1

Glossy Ibis     1

Plegadis sp.     1

Black Vulture     2

Turkey Vulture     4

Osprey     2

Bald Eagle     4

American Coot     1

Semipalmated Plover     3

Killdeer     21

Greater Yellowlegs     2

Lesser Yellowlegs     6

Solitary Sandpiper     4

Spotted Sandpiper     2

Sanderling     2

Semipalmated Sandpiper     97

Least Sandpiper     124

Stilt Sandpiper     3

Short-billed Dowitcher     1

Ring-billed Gull     180

Caspian Tern     12

Mourning Dove     2

Yellow-billed Cuckoo     1

Chimney Swift     2

Belted Kingfisher     1

American Crow     1

Fish Crow     5

Purple Martin     3

Tree Swallow     5

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     10

Bank Swallow     60

Barn Swallow     30

Carolina Wren     1

Gray Catbird     3

Red-winged Blackbird     2

Common Grackle     40

 

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

--

Thomas Brodie Johnson

Ithaca, NY

tbj4@cornell.edu

mobile:  717.991.5727

 
7/24/07
 
Tom Johnson just reported, 2:45 PM, a juvenile "Plegadis" (probable  Glossy)

Ibis at the south spit of the Flats.  Also, an adult Sanderling is  present.

More later.

 

Dick Williams

7/21/07

 

 
Dear PABirders:

 

As Tom, Andy, and Ramsay were pulling their kayaks into the Blue Rock

Road boat launch at 11:30 AM, Tom Amico and I were just heading out for

a shorebird survey. Then as Tom and I were pulling into the boat launch

at the completion of our shorebird survey at 4 PM, Cory, Lori, and Dan

Heathcote were going out for some birding and fishing. Good coverage on

the Flats on this gorgeous Saturday.

 

Tom and I found 8 species of shorebirds today:

 

Semipalmated Plover--2

Killdeer--18

Greater Yellowlegs--3

Lesser Yellowlegs--8

Spotted Sandpiper--2

SANDERLING--1

Least Sandpiper--72

Semipalmated Sandpiper--1

 

Other interesting sightings included:

 

Lesser Scaup--1 drake, same as the AM crew

HOODED MERGANSER--1 juvenile

Bald Eagle--2 ad, 4 imm

Osprey--1

Great Blue Heron--53

Great Egret--26

Snowy Egret--1 adult, likely the same one as the morning crew

Caspian Tern--3

 

It was a wonderful day with low water levels, temps in the 70s and low

80s, light N winds, low humidity and no haze.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

 

7/21/07

 
 
Ramsay Koury, Andy McGann, and I kayaked around the Flats this morning

in pleasant temps and a light breeze.  Highlights included an adult

Snowy Egret, the first juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs of the summer, and a

migrant Louisiana Waterthrush.  The only tern seen today was an adult

Caspian beginning its prebasic molt with a nice frosted forehead.  For

those keeping track, the summering Lesser Scaup and American Coot

continue.  Bob Schutsky may have more to add later.

Tom

 

--

Thomas Brodie Johnson

Ithaca, NY

tbj4@cornell.edu

mobile:  717.991.5727

 

7/18/07

 

All,

Some friends and I paddled the flats on the Susquehanna River off

Washington Boro today before a rainstorm.  Birds have been similar to

last week, and the only bird of note was a new adult hendersoni

Short-billed Dowitcher that was even brighter than the previous bird.

Killdeer numbers are building and the Lesser Scaup and American Coot

both continue.

Peace,

Tom

 

--

Thomas Brodie Johnson

Ithaca, NY

tbj4@cornell.edu

mobile:  717.991.5727

 

 

7/15/07

 

Observer:     Tom Johnson

Location:     Conejohela Flats IBA

Observation date:     7/15/07

Number of species:     48

 

Canada Goose     18

Wood Duck     12

Mallard     5

Lesser Scaup     1

Double-crested Cormorant     3

Great Blue Heron     39

Great Egret     15

Green Heron     1

Turkey Vulture     3

Bald Eagle     2

Cooper's Hawk     1

American Coot     1

Killdeer     109

Greater Yellowlegs     2

Lesser Yellowlegs     4

Spotted Sandpiper     10

Semipalmated Sandpiper     2

Least Sandpiper     18

Pectoral Sandpiper     1

Short-billed Dowitcher     1

Ring-billed Gull     251

Forster's Tern     3

Mourning Dove     10

Yellow-billed Cuckoo     1

Chimney Swift     2

Belted Kingfisher     2

Willow Flycatcher     1

Red-eyed Vireo     2

Blue Jay     1

Fish Crow     3

Tree Swallow     2

Bank Swallow     2

Barn Swallow     12

Carolina Wren     2

House Wren     1

Wood Thrush     2

American Robin     1

Gray Catbird     1

Northern Mockingbird     2

Yellow Warbler     1

Common Yellowthroat     2

Eastern Towhee     1

Song Sparrow     2

Northern Cardinal     2

Indigo Bunting     4

Red-winged Blackbird     8

Baltimore Oriole     1

American Goldfinch     3

 

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

 

 

7/13/07

 

All,

I ventured out onto the Conejohela Flats at Washington Boro again this

afternoon with Andy McGann.  We spent about 4 hours checking out the

vast mudflats (water level quite low) by kayak and turned up 10

species of shorebirds.  The American Avocets from yesterday were not

seen again, and the only new shorebird species today was Pectoral

Sandpiper, represented by 3 adults.  The gorgeous orange hendersoni

Short-billed Dowitcher adult was still present.  The gull flock

changed fairly significantly from yesterday, with fewer birds overall

but with a much higher percentage of adults joining the loafing flock

as post-breeders come off the Great Lakes.  One month ago the flock

contained NO adults, just first cycle birds.  The swallows were almost

nonexistent today, and were only represented by a handful of Barn

Swallows.

eBird report follows.

Cheers,

Tom Johnson

 

Location:     Conejohela Flats IBA

Observation date:     7/13/07

Number of species:     40

 

Canada Goose     18

Wood Duck     18

Mallard     4

Lesser Scaup     1

Semipalmated Plover     2

Killdeer     55

Greater Yellowlegs     1

Lesser Yellowlegs     3

Solitary Sandpiper     1

Spotted Sandpiper     8

Semipalmated Sandpiper     3

Least Sandpiper     38

Pectoral Sandpiper     3

Short-billed Dowitcher     1

Ring-billed Gull     140

Caspian Tern     3

Mourning Dove     2

Yellow-billed Cuckoo     1

Belted Kingfisher     2

Red-bellied Woodpecker     1

Great Crested Flycatcher     1

Warbling Vireo     1

American Crow     2

Fish Crow     15

Barn Swallow     8

Carolina Wren     2

House Wren     3

Wood Thrush     1

American Robin     3

Gray Catbird     4

Northern Mockingbird     2

Cedar Waxwing     1

Yellow Warbler     4

Chipping Sparrow     1

Song Sparrow     8

Northern Cardinal     2

Indigo Bunting     4

Red-winged Blackbird     25

Baltimore Oriole     1

American Goldfinch     10

 

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

 

 

7/12/07

 

Andy McGann and I kayaked and birded around the Conejohela Flats in

Washington Boro and were pleased to see that the passage of last

night's cold front added some spice to the shorebird scene.  We found

10 species of shorebirds, with the stars being two adult American

Avocets.  These birds (a male and a female) were first seen at Gull

Island mixed in with a small flock of Ring-billed Gulls.  After

circling overhead, they landed and rested at Gull Island for ~2 hours.

 Later they flew down to the South Spit and then up to Avocet Point

where they remained when I left at 2:20 PM.  2 very different adult

Short-billed Dowitchers that were present afforded a nice comparison

of the vivid orange hendersonii and the paler griseus races.

Interesting waterfowl in the area included the continuing Lesser

Scaup, a fairly early Blue-winged Teal, and 2 American Black Ducks.  A

calling flyover Purple Finch was a surprise for Lancaster Co. in July.

 I added some photos of the avocets to:

http://picasaweb.google.com/jaegermaster/PennsylvaniaSummer2007

My eBird list follows...

Cheers,

Tom

 

Location:     Conejohela Flats IBA

Observation date:     7/12/07

Number of species:     54

 

Canada Goose     25

Wood Duck     15

American Black Duck     2

Mallard     8

Blue-winged Teal     1

Lesser Scaup     1

Double-crested Cormorant     4

Great Blue Heron     22

Great Egret     12

Green Heron     1

Turkey Vulture     2

Osprey     1

Bald Eagle     4

Semipalmated Plover     1

Killdeer     32

American Avocet   2

Greater Yellowlegs     3

Lesser Yellowlegs     8

Solitary Sandpiper     4

Spotted Sandpiper     12

Semipalmated Sandpiper     1

Least Sandpiper     22

Short-billed Dowitcher     2

Ring-billed Gull     250

Mourning Dove     2

Yellow-billed Cuckoo     1

Belted Kingfisher     1

Red-bellied Woodpecker     1

Great Crested Flycatcher     1

Warbling Vireo     1

Fish Crow     6

Tree Swallow     15

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     2

Bank Swallow     4

Barn Swallow     10

Carolina Chickadee     1

Tufted Titmouse     1

White-breasted Nuthatch     1

Carolina Wren     1

House Wren     2

Wood Thrush     1

American Robin     2

Gray Catbird     3

Northern Mockingbird     1

Yellow Warbler     2

Eastern Towhee     1

Song Sparrow     4

Northern Cardinal     1

Indigo Bunting     3

Red-winged Blackbird     20

Common Grackle     2

Baltimore Oriole     1

Purple Finch     1

American Goldfinch     15

 

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

 

7/12/07

 

Tom johnson and i are watching a pair of avocets at gull island right

now. I'm posting from my phone. Apologies for lack of grammar.

  - andy mcgann

--

Andrew McGann

andrew.mcgann@gmail.com

Tel. (717) 891-8145

 

 

 

7/9/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 11:30 AM until almost 4 PM. It

was hazy, hot and humid, with high water levels. Water temp was 87F, air

temp reached 94.

 

I found 5 species of shorebirds:

 

Killdeer--66

Greater Yellowlegs--1

Spotted Sandpiper--5

Least Sandpiper--7

and the previously reported (Western) WILLET

 

Additional highlights included:

 

LESSER SCAUP--1 male

Bald Eagle--2 adults, 4 imm

Osprey--4

Great Blue Heron--44

Great Egret--3

AMERICAN COOT--1

Barn Swallow--several hundred, apparently gathering to migrate.

 

I watched a perched Belted Kingfisher being divebombed by a

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. When the cuckoo perched, it was divebombed by Barn

Swallow. I have no idea what was happening with THAT interaction.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

 

7/4/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

Bruce Carl and I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 8 AM until noon.

Water level was moderately high and remained steady throughout the

morning. Water temp was 70F. Air temp ranged from 65-70F, skies were

cloudy with light rain as we ended. Winds were from the S at 10-15 mph.

 

We found four species of shorebirds today:

 

Killdeer--30, local breeder

Spotted Sandpiper--6, local breeder

Lesser Yellowlegs--1, southbound migrant

Least Sandpiper--8, southbound migrants

 

Additional highlights included:

 

Bald Eagle--2 adults, 8 immatures

Osprey--4

 

It was a nice day for long-legged waders with . . .

Great Blue Heron--22

Green Heron--3

Great Egret--4

Snowy Egret--2

and a LEAST BITTERN calling from the lower end of Sharptail Island.

 

Happy Holiday,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

 

 

7/1/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

Eric Witmer and I birded the Conejohela Flats this morning, finishing at

1 PM. Water level was very high, water temp 75F. Skies were mostly

clear, winds NW 15-20, air temps 67-73F, with very low humidity.

 

The northbound shorebird migration typically ends somewhere soon after

mid-June in this region, with a 10-day period of nearly no migration

from 18-28 June. Today there were a couple of signs that the southbound

migration has begun.

 

We had three species of shorebirds:

 

Killdeer (29) and Spotted Sandpiper (6) are both local breeders, the

only shorebirds that nest in this area. But we also had 5 Least

Sandpipers, all adults. The adult Leasts are the first to depart from

the Arctic breeding grounds and head south. Juveniles (this year's

young) will follow later.

 

50-75 Ring-billed Gulls spent most of June on the Flats. These are

non-breeding birds. The first juvenile Ring-billed Gull was seen today,

a new arrival. This bird was most likly fledged on its Great Lakes

breeding grounds. Large numbers of juveniles and then post-breeding

adults will soon follow.

 

There were two Green-winged Teal, a hen and a drake. These are

potentially early migrants, but it's difficult to be certain. And

neither Eric nor I could quite decide what to make of the single Common

Tern and the flock of 9 Forster's Terns. Migrtants, non-breeders, failed

breeders, who knows?

 

Additional highlights included:

 

An adult American Black Duck with 2 young.

 

Osprey--3

 

Bald Eagle--2 adult, 4 immatures.

 

Mute Swan--the 3 adults persist.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

 

 

6/24/07

 

Hi folks,

 

Tom Johnson and I recovered two of the four Least Terns a few moments ago at Conejohela Flats. They are in the vicinity of Gull Island. They have been seen both in flight and resting on the outermost sandbar.

Geoff Malosh

Allegheny County

 

 

6/24/07

 

Greetings,

 

While kayaking on the Conejohela Flats early this morning, looking for the Least Terns that were reported yesterday by Bob Schutsky, and Tom Amico. I never did find

the Least Terns, but did see the previously reported 2 Forster's Terns.

 

As I approached Gull Island in kayak, I saw a distant small flock of Canada Geese flying downstream towards me, but two of the birds were noticeably smaller. They

appeared to be flying in formation with the 6 Canada's. I got the binoculars on them and could see that they were very different in size, next thing I noticed was the

pale heads in contrast with the neck, then I see the flash of white on top of wing, and see wings are all dark on the underside. Then as they got closer I noticed the

rufous neck coloration. WOW!!  The small group kept getting closer and closer and finally the Geese pulled up as if to land on the water, the Whistling Ducks separated

from the Geese momentarily, but then they landed with those white wing patches very noticeable now. They stayed a few yards from the 6 Canada's, and I took one

more look with binoculars before I headed the kayak for the shore of Gull Island. One more look with bino's with both feet on the ground, got out Sibley's and confirmed

my hunch of Black-bellied Whistling Duck, even though I knew it was a very rare bird for Pa. Once I was satisfied with the field marks. I fumbled to get the tripod unlashed

from kayak, set it up and focus scope, with camera in hand for some digiscoping; I had the Geese in focus, but where were the 2 ducks?? They had somehow left and I

didn't even see them leave, evidently when I was getting scope set up. This was about 7:15, I paddled around for about 3 more hours without seeing them again, I got off

the water about 10:00 am., then looked upstream along rt. 441 at the few vantage spots along the way, and at the Columbia Wrightsville Bridge Area. But Alas no

Whistling Ducks to be found there.

 

But there are 2 out there on the Susquehanna somewhere, good day for a boat ride, take your camera along !!  No photo for me today but I at least got to see these 2

stray birds for a few minutes !!!!!!!!!  I went to see the Black-belies that were on a pond in Lanc.Co. in 1993, probably less than 6 miles East of where these 2 were today.

According to "Birds of Pa. Annotated List, Second Edition", by Frank and Barb Haas, there were two other sightings in Pa. also in 1993 in Indiana and Westmoreland

Counties. And I just got an e-mail from Jay Keller of Alexandria Virginia who reports that they had a pair land on a pond  stay for a couple of days the first week of

June of this year near Alexandria. !!!!!!

 

No photo, but as Bob Schutsky says, there isn't a real bad day on the FLATS.  By the way these were both Adult Birds, the only field mark I did not get was the

pale eye ring.

 

The FLAT'S were very calm today with not a hint of breeze, pretty warm by 10:00.  Saw lots of Wood Ducks and several broods of young while looking around , only

a few Shorebirds, 6 Killdeer, 1 Least Sandpiper, and 1 Spotted Sandpiper. And plenty of the breeding birds of the Susquehanna.

 

                                                                  Chuck Chalfant

 

 

6/23/07

 
Dear PABirders,

 

Thanks to Frank Haas this morning for reporting the two Least Terns that

Tom Amico and I found on the Conejohela Flats at about 9:15 AM. By about

3 PM we returned to Gull Island and there were FOUR adult LEAST TERNS.

By then there were showing courtship behavior that included

wing-spreading, head raised and neck stretched, and offering small fish

to each other. This happened several years ago when there were six Least

Terns in exactly the same area, but no breeding attempt occurred at that

time. All four of today's birds were adults and none were banded. The

closest known nesting colony is in Havre de Grace, MD, at the mouth of

the Susquehanna, where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. This would be

about 25-30 miles from the Conejohela Flats. Havre de Grace is not by

any means known to be the source of the birds that occur annually on the

Lower Susquehanna, or the ones that we saw today, but it is certainly a

possibility. With the early arrival of two WESTERN SANDPIPERS today, who

knows where the Least Terns came from.

 

Tom and I were on the Flats today from 8 AM to 5:30 PM, joined late in

the day by Devich Farbotnik and Jason Horn. Devich, Jason, and Tom all

obtained photo-documention of the Least Terns.

 

We found five species of shorebirds today, very good for the last week

of June:

 

Semipalmated Plover--2

Killdeer--36

Spotted Sandpiper--1

Least Sandpiper--1

WESTERN SANDPIPER--2, early southbound migrants, failed breeders,

non-breeders, not sexually mature ??????

 

Other sightings of note included:

 

Bald Eagle--4 adults, 10 immatures (at least that many)

Osprey--2

Mute Swan--3 adults

Wood Duck--19 (including 4 broods of young)

Bonaparte's Gull--1

Ring-billed Gull--150

Forster's Tern--2 in breeding plumage

LEAST TERN--FOUR in breeding plumage

Prothonotary Warbler--1

 

This period, from about 18-28 June, is considered to be the low ebb of

shorebird migration. So Tom and I considered today to be a very good day

on the Flats. After 32 years, It is an area that I ALWAYS enjoy!

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

 

6/16/07

 

Single adult Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls were in with 62 first

summer Ring-billed Gulls on Avocet Point at the Conejohela Flats this

afternoon.  This is the first time I've seen a LBBG in June on the

Susquehanna River.  A lone Cliff Swallow and 2 singing Prothonotary

Warblers were also nice.

Tom

--

Thomas Brodie Johnson

Ithaca, NY

tbj4@cornell.edu

mobile:  717.991.5727

 
6/10/07
 
The first summer Franklin's Gull was present all morning at the Conejohela Flats (Washington Boro) until at least 1:30 this afternoon.  It made a one our trip( 12-1) up to the "rocks" adjacent  Blue Lane  just below Columbia and later returned to the Avocet Point area.

 

Also at the Avocet Point  was a breeding plumaged  Black Tern and a White-rumped Sandpiper.

 

The Franklin's Gull was observed yesterday afternoon (Sat.) by another observer.

 

 

Good Birding,   Eric Witmer   (Ephrata)

 
6/7/07
 
Howdy All,

 

I apologize for the tardiness of this post.....

 

Myna and I were out on The Flats yesterday from 0700 until just after noon time. Drew Weber joined us for part of the time. Water levels were wonderful being at least a foot below top level for the entire morning...plenty of mud was available. Crisp cool temps with low humidity and a fresh NW breeze made things actually cool for June.

 

It was a very good later spring day...in fact shorebird wise it was my most enjoyable day of the spring season.

 

Best of all were the 2 Red Knot I had on the South Spit early in the morning....they stuck around for 15 minutes after I initially saw them then picked up and flew to the north with a Black-bellied Plover.

 

Shorebird totals....

 

Killdeer...11

Semipalmated Plover...13

Black-bellied Plover...3

Semipalmated Sandpiper...10

Least Sandpiper...7

White-rumped Sandpiper...19 (all in one flock that thinned throughout the morning)

Spotted Sandpiper...6

Greater Yellowlegs...1

Red Knot...2

 

Other notables...

 

Bald Eagle....12

Osprey...2

Peregrine Falcon...1

 

All 6 swallow species...I have been having Purple Martins on every trip this spring...I have no idea where they are nesting!

 

Prothonotary Warbler...3

 

Overall a very enjoyable morning in early June....with good birds, great weather (maybe a little too breezy), and good company.

 

Take care and Good birding,

Raven

a.k.a.  Deuane Hoffman

          Harrisburg, PA, Dauphin County

          corvuscorax@comcast.net

 
5/23/07 -5/28/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

I birded the Conejohela Flats on the Susquehanna River in Lancaster

County for a total of about 26 hours between last Wednesday (23 May) and

yesterday (Monday, 28 May). I will summarize all of the shorebird

sightings, then list the other highlights, which even includes some

interesting squirrel behavior.

 

Each survey period (AM or PM) was slightly more than 4 hours.

Shorebird numbers are listed accordingly:

wed AM/wed PM/sat PM/sun PM/mon AM/mon PM

I found a total of 10 species of shorebirds.

 

Black-bellied Plover--3/3/4/6/2/2

Semipalmated Plover--46/84/31/42/30/41

Killdeer--3/6/10/12/1/1

Greater Yellowlegs--1/1/1/0/0/0

Spotted Sandpiper--12/16/10/20/12/17

RUDDY TURNSTONE--0/0/2/0/1/2 (first of the season)

Semipalmated Sandpiper--4/10/24/18/15/36

Least Sandpiper--50/73/30/23/5/9

White-rumped Sandpiper--0/1/0/1/0/0

Dunlin--2/10/5/3/1/17

 

Additional highlights include some rather unexpected waterfowl for late

May, all of which were drakes: 1 Bufflehead, 1 Lesser Scaup, 1 Ruddy

Duck, and 2 Common Goldeneye. The adult Mute Swan continues.

 

One Bonaparte's Gull was present 23 May.

 

One adult Caspian Tern and Black Tern 26 May.

 

Significant numbers of fish typically die at this time of year (late May

into early June). This is probably due to the stress of spawning and

rapidly increasing water temperatures. Higher water temps lead to lower

oxygen levels. Dead fish include Smallmouth Bass, Carp, Channel Catfish,

and Quillback. The dead fish attract large numbers of scavengers, mainly

Bald Eagles, Ring-billed Gulls, and Fish Crows.

 

There was a Hooded Warbler singing on Green Island on 23 May. This is my

first Hooded Warbler in 32 years of birding the Flats.

 

I typically heard 2-3 Prothontary Warblers per day, but there are more

than that present. Nine nesting tubes ("boxes") have been placed on

several different islands, and many of the tubes are occupied.

Prothonotaries are cavity nesters.

 

And the squirrel. Over the years I have seen what I consider to be some

relatively unusual mammalian swimming behavior, such as White-tailed

Deer swimming a mile-plus across the Susquehanna, and Grounhogs swimming

across farm ponds. But up until recently, I had never seen an Eastern

Gray Squirrel swim, except for one that fell out of a tree into a creek,

so it had no choice.

 

Yesterday I watched a fully grown Eastern Gray Squirrel walk across an

island, walk into the water, and calmly swim to the next island. This

was a distance of approx 150 feet. As soon as it touched the far shore

it was attacked ny a male Red-winged Balckbird, but that was after the

fact. The squirrel appeared to swim of its own free will. It was fun to

watch and it swam quite well. It has been said that Pennsylvania was

once so heavily forested that a squirrel could cross the state in the

trees and never touch the ground. And now we know how it made it across

the rivers!

 

I hope that you all had a good holiday.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 
5/23/07
 
Dear PABirders,

 

I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 9 AM to 5PM. Skies were mostly

clear, wind from the SE at 10-20 mph, air temp 69-77 F, water temp 78 F.

Water level dropped about 12" during the day, exposing lots of good habitat.

 

I found 9 species of shorebirds today (AM/PM)

 

Black-bellied Plover--3/3

Semipalmated Plover--46/84

Killdeer--3/6

Greater Yellowlegs--1/1

Spotted Sandpiper--12/16

Semipalmated Sandpiper--4/10

Least Sandpiper--50/72

White-rumped Sandpiper--0/1

Dunlin--2/10

 

Additional highlights include:

 

Wood Duck--12

Bald Eagle--2 ad, 14 imm

Osprey--1

Bonaparte's Gull--1

Willow Flycatcher--1

Prothonotary Warbler--2

HOODED WARBLER--1 singing, my personal first in 32 years of birding the

Flats.

 

Every year in late May into June, there is a significant die-off of

several fish species--Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Carp, and

Quillback Carpsucker. These provide easy food for the avian

opportunists: Ring-billed Gulls, Bald Eagles, Fish Crows. There is a

good chance that is why we are seeing such a large number of Bald Eagles

now.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 
5/21/07
 
Dear PABirders,

 

It was a great afternoon on the Conejohela Flats, with lots of shorebird

migration. I was out from noon until 4:15 PM. Skies were mostly sunny,

air temp 64-72 F, water temp 72, wind N at 10-15 mph. Water level

dropped about 3" during the afternoon.

 

I found 9 species of shorebirds:

 

Black-bellied Plover--16 (12 of the 16 were in full breeding plumage)

Semipalmated Plover--44

Killdeer--5

Spotted Sandpiper--31

Semipalmated Sandpiper--8

Least Sandpiper--149

White-rumped Sandpiper--3

Dunlin--9 (7 were in full breeding plumage, other 2 nearly so)

Short-billed Dowitcher--1 (full breeding plumage; appeared to be of the

prairie race, hendersoni, that breeds in central and western Canada).

 

Additional highlights included:

 

Mute Swan--1

Blue-winged Teal--1 drake, 1 hen

Common Goldeneye--1 drake (very late)

Bald Eagle--4 imm

Osprey--1

Yellow-billed Cuckoo--5

Prothonotary Warbler--3

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 
5/20/07
 
Sunday 5/20--Lead filed trip to Conejohela Flats, Lancaster County. Eight people and one dog enjoyed the Flats for the morning. Habitat was plentiful but only Semiplamated Plover (75) and Least Sandpiper (50) were in abundance shorebird wise. Other nice sights included at least 10 Bald Eagle and a VERY cooperative male Prothonotary Warbler exiting his nest tube and posing in a nearby maple tree for all to enjoy!
-Deuane Hoffman

 

 

 

5/16/07 - 5/17/07

 

I was able to bird the Conejohela Flats late yesterday evening, 5/16 (4:45 -

8:15 PM), as well as bright and early this morning, 5/17 (6:00 - 9:30 AM).

Water levels were extremely low at dusk last evening but came up

substantially overnight.  Shorebird numbers dropped for most species during

the night (I heard Dunlin flying overhead around 10:00 PM, for example),

except for Semipalmated Plovers which peaked at 40 this morning.  The

highlight was a Stilt Sandpiper visible from Avocet Point until dark

yesterday, mainly choosing to reside among the flock of Lesser Yellowlegs.

 

5-16/5-17

 

Shorebirds:

Black-bellied Plover - 1/1

Semipalmated Plover - 24/40

Killdeer- 1/0

Greater Yellowlegs - 4/3

Lesser Yellowlegs - 15/1

Solitary Sandpiper - 0/1

Spotted Sandpiper- 16/12

Semipalmated Sandpiper- 10/11

Least Sandpiper- 153/88

White-rumped Sandpiper - 2/2

Dunlin - 30/10

STILT SANDPIPER - 1/0

 

Other highlights:

Common Goldeneye - 2/0 (late)

Peregrine Falcon - 1/0 (adult)

American Coot - 1/0

Common Nighthawk - 4/0

Purple Martin - 2/0

Cliff Swallow - 0/1

Blackpoll Warbler - 0/1

Prothonotary Warbler - 1/2

Orchard Oriole - 3/3

 

 As Stilt Sandpipers mainly migrate through the Great Plains in the spring,

this was certainly a surprise.  McWilliams and Brauning remark that this

species is accidental away from Presque Isle during the spring.  As was the

same with a number of the other shorebirds present, this bird was in

transitional plumage with a number of drab gray feathers still apparent on

its upperparts.  Although it was distinctly barred below with a dark cheek

and cap, it only resembled a washed out image of a bird in full breeding

plumage, lacking the heavy black markings and chestnut cheek and crown.  The

stunning "red-backed sandpipers" (Dunlin) showed little of the plumage that

provides their namesake... "little dark brown one."

 

 The other highlight was happening upon a pair of Prothonotary Warblers at

the nest box at the north end of Avocet Point.  Out of all the boxes that

were put in, this had to be the least likely box to become occupied or even

to draw any interest altogether.  With that said, this morning I watched a

female Prothonotary Warbler sticking her head out of the box.  The other

Atlas observation came in the form of a female Orchard Oriole dragging

nesting materials from the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River across

Avocet Point towards Green Island, on both days no less!

 

 Good Birding,

      Cameron Rutt

      Grantham,

      Cumberland County

 

5/14/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

I birded the Conejohela Flats yesterday from 11:45 AM until 4 PM. Winds

were light from the SE, switching to the SW, clouds increased all

afternoon, air temps ranged from 64-69 F, water temp was 71 F. Water

level was down about 1 foot all afternoon. At one time there was a halo

around the sun and a sun dog outside of the halo.

 

I found six species of shorebirds:

 

Semipalmated Plover--32

Greater Yellowlegs--2

Solitary Sandpiper--2

Spotted Sandpiper--29

SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER--2

Least Sandpiper--213

 

Additional highlights included:

 

Bald Eagle--1 ad, 5 imm, 1 age undetermined

Osprey--1

SNOWY EGRET--TWO, both in breeding plumage

Mute Swan--single bird continues

COMMON GOLDENEYE--2 drakes

Caspian Tern--2

Black Tern--4

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

5/13/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 8 AM until noon. Skies were

clear, winds NW 10-25, air temp 55-61 F, water temp 66 F. Water level

began very high and dropped 2" during the morning.

 

I found 7 species of shorebirds today:

 

Semipalmated Plover--25

Greater Yellowlegs--4

Solitary Sandpiper--1

Spotted Sandpiper--17

Semipalmated Sandpiper--1

Least Sandpiper--271

Dunlin--1

 

Additional highlights include:

 

Bald Eagle--3 ad, 6 imm

Osprey--1

Cooper's Hawk--1 male that seems to regularly hunt the Flats, then

return to the Lancaster County mainland with food.

Snowy Egret--1

Bonaparte's Gull--16 (15 were in a flock migrating upriver)

Forster's Tern--1

Black Tern--1

Blue Grosbeak--1 singing behind the blind at Avocet Point

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 
5/12/07
 
I took the AM shift (6:45 AM - 2:15 PM) on the Conejohela Flats before the

changing of the guards, when Eric Witmer and Jonathan Heller took over.

Deuane Hoffman joined me for about 3 hours in the middle of that time span.

All in all, it was a productive day out at the Flats.  Deuane and I tallied

88 species from the river and the various islands.  Unfortunately, while

others had great days of migrant songbirds, this was not the case out on the

Flats.  I struggled to find only 8 species of warblers.  Shorebird diversity

was up, however, with 11 species being seen - I believe the first

double-digit day on the Flats for this season.

 

Shorebirds:

Black-bellied Plover - 14 (with some stunning birds in breeding attire)

Semipalmated Plover - 12

Killdeer - 2

Greater Yellowlegs - 2

Lesser Yellowlegs - 1

Solitary Sandpiper - 2

Spotted Sandpiper - 14

Least Sandpiper - 81

White-rumped Sandpiper - 1

Pectoral Sandpiper - 3

Dunlin - 1 (this bird was also close to breeding plumage)

 

Other highlights:

Common Loon - 1

Lesser Scaup - 1

COMMON GOLDENEYE - 2 males (late)

Bufflehead - 1

SNOWY EGRET - 1

American Coot - 5

Bonaparte's Gull - 15

Caspian Tern - 2

Forster's Tern - 3

Black Tern - 7

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1

American Pipit - 2

Blackpoll Warbler - 1

Prothonotary Warbler - 4 singing males (1 near Turkey Point)

Orchard Oriole - 5 singing males (these guys seemed to be singing

everywhere)

 

 Lastly, I also had a singleton adult Snow Goose foraging in an

agricultural field along route 441 south of Three Mile Island.

 

   Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

       Grantham,

       Cumberland County

 

 
5/10/07
 
Howdy All,

 

I took out Messiah College student Adam Stuckert for a morning of migration action. Luckily we found plenty of it at SGL 246 followed by more at the Conejohela Flats.

 

<...>

 

After 2 hours in the woods it was time for the wide open skies of the Flats. Habitat was good with levels around 226.0 feet. We had 6 species of shorebirds.

 

Semipalmated Plover..1

Killdeer..2

Gr. Yellowlegs..1

Spotted Sandpiper..12

Least Sandpiper..10

Dunlin..2

 

Other bird of note from the Flats....

 

Osprey..2

Blad Eagle..3 (2 imm., 1 ad)

 

Bonaparte's Gull..1

Forster's Tern..3

 

Prothonotary Warbler..2

 

Blue Grosbeak..1 (singing from the south end of Sharp-tailed Island)

 

It was a great half day out showing Adam a bunch of new birds. All totaled we had 99 species during our time....not a bad showing for 6 hours of birding!

 

Take care and Good birding,

Raven

a.k.a.  Deuane Hoffman

         Harrisburg, PA, Dauphin County

         corvuscorax@comcast.net

 

 

5/6/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

I birded the Conejohela Flats yesterday from 9 AM to 1:15 PM. The water

level was relatively high and dropped just a bit. Winds were NE at 20-30

mph, skies mostly clear, air temps in the 50s. I found 3 species of

shorebirds yesterday:

 

Solitary Sandpiper--1

Spotted Sandpiper--13

Least Sandpiper--59

 

Additional highlightsd included:

 

Great Egret--3

Bald Eagle--1 ad, 2 imm

Osprey--4

A Cooper's Hawk carrying prey to the Lancaster County shoreline.

Bonaparte's Gull--1

Black Tern--2 in full breeding plumage

All 6 regularly occurring swallow species, including 2 Cliff Swallows.

[Purple Martin is considered a species of swallow, family Hirundinidae.]

 

There were also 100s of Chimney Swifts low over the Flats all day,

probably forced down by the wind. [Swifts are completely unrelated to

swallows and are in the family Apodidae. Swifts are much more closely

related to hummingbirds.]

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

 

 

5/4/07

 

Dear PABirders,

 

Tom Amico and I birded the Conejohela Flats on Friday 4 May from 11:45

AM to 4:30 PM. The water level was down a bit, yielding some good

habitat. Skies were clear, air temps low 60s to low 70s, winds light and

variable. We found 7 species of shorebirds:

 

Semipalmated Plover--5

Killdeer--4

Greater Yellowlegs--6

Lesser Yellowlegs--2

Spotted Sandpiper--13

Solitary Sandpiper--1

Least Sandpiper--67

 

Additional highlights included:

 

Red-breasted Merganser--1

Pied-billed Grebe--1

Bald Eagle--4 ad, 3 imm

Osprey--3

Bonaparte's Gull--2

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 
4/22/07
 
Dear PABirders,

 

Tom Amico and I birded the Conejohela Flats yesterday from 8 AM until

12:30 PM. We found four species of shorebirds:

 

Greater Yellowlegs--3

Lesser Yellowlegs--3

Spotted Sandpiper--1

Wilson's Snipe--2

 

Additional highlights included:

 

Canvasback--1

Ruddy Duck--1

Common Loon--2

Horned Grebe--6

Great Egret--1

AMERICAN BITTERN--1

Bald Eagle--1 imm

Osprey--2

Bonaparte's Gull--33

Caspian Tern--1

 

Water Level was near top level, skies were clear, winds light,

temperatures 50-70 F.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

 
4/21/07
 
Dear PABirders,

 

I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 8 AM until 12 noon. Half a

dozen additional birders were also present. They spent much of their

time picking up trash from Avocet Point and Gull Island as part of Earth

Day and Clean Up PA Day. A large boatlaod of trash and recyclables made

the trip by boat and truck to the local landfill. Deuane Hoffman

spearheaded this effort.

 

We had three species of shorebirds today:

Killdeer--1

Greater Yellowlegs--1

Dunlin--5

 

Additional highlights included:

The hybrid Green-winged X Common Teal that we first found on Thursday.

Horned Grebe--3

Common Loon--2

Osprey--1

Bald Eagle--2 ad, a imm

Bonaparte's Gull--23

Caspian Tern--1

A fine assortment of 15 waterfowl species.

A Sharp-shinned Hawk, carrying a songbird.

 

The water level was extremely high, but the weather was gorgeous.

 

We'll be out again tomorrow.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 
4/19/07
 
I posted two rather poor shots of the possible hybrid teal (American x Eurasian Green-winged Teal) seen today at the Conejohela Flats, Lancaster County:

 

http://picasaweb.google.com/avechico/PennsylvaniaBirds

 

    While the horizontal white scapular stripe was visible at all times, and on both sides of the bird, it wasn’t overly extensive, appearing about the same size or slightly larger than the black horizontal scapular stripe below.  The vertical white shoulder bar was very distinctive and, in my opinion, a brighter white than the scapular stripe.  Otherwise, the bird appeared very much like an American Green-winged Teal (carolinensis) as I did not notice coarser body vermiculations, thicker facial lines, or a more distinctive white rear flank compared to the other male carolinensis.  The only sign of a facial stripe on this potential hybrid was below the green ear patch.  A few pictures of other possible hybrids that I examined didn’t seem to show coarser body vermiculations or thicker facial lines.  We did notice that the putative hybrid appeared paler breasted than an adjacent male carolinensis, a feature which Eurasian Green-winged Teals (crecca) are supposed to portray.  Anyhow, it was a very interesting bird, but it unfortunately disappeared behind some vegetation so I didn’t get as thorough of a look as I would have liked.

 
<...>

 

  Good Birding,

        Cameron Rutt

        Grantham,

        Cumberland County

 
4/19/07
 
Dear PABirders,

 

Tom Amico and I birded the Conejohela Flats today from 8 AM to 12:30 PM.

We were joined for part of that time by Cameron Rutt and Deuane Hoffman.

 

Near Avocet Point Cameron spotted what was apparently a hybrid

Green-winged Teal X Common (Eurasian) Teal. It was a male in full

breeding plumage, and had the white vertical bar of the normal

Green-winged Teal and the white horizontal stripe of a Common Teal. We

saw it well in direct comparison with male Green-winged Teal. Cameron

obtained some photos that hopefully he will be able to post.

 

A bit later we found an adult Little Gull in full breeding plumage, with

a beautiful pink blush to the entire underside of the bird. It was near

Gull Island, perched on the water, then flew into the main channel and

disappeared upriver.

 

We found four species of shorebirds today:

 

Spotted Sandpiper--1

Greater Yellowlegs--2

Lesser Yellowlegs--4

Wilson's Snipe--7

 

Additional highlights included:

 

Common Loon--2

Horned Grebe--3

Trumpeter Swan--2

Osprey--4

Bald Eagle--2 ad, 2 imm

Merlin--1

Common Goldeneye--2

Red-breasted Merganser--12

Hooded Merganser--8

Bonaparte's Gull--approx 100

Forster's Tern--4

Caspian Tern--2

and a nice assortment of ducks including Greater Scaup, Blue-winged

Teal, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, American Wigeon, Wood Duck,

Northern Pintail, Mallards, and Blacks.

 

Water level was high, sky overcast with occasional light rain, winds NE

0-5 mph, air temp 45-50 F.

 

This is the first shorebird survey of the year for Safe Harbor Water

Power Corp. Surveys will be conducted twice a week through the end of

October.

 

Sincerely,

BOB SCHUTSKY

--

BIRD TREKS--Quality Worldwide Birding Tours

216 Spring Lane

Peach Bottom, PA USA 17563-4008

WEB SITE: www.birdtreks.com

VOICE: 717-548-3303     FAX: 717-548-3327

E-MAIL: info@birdtreks.com

 

4/12/07
 
Howdy All,

 

Cameron Rutt, Myna and I surveyed The Flats from app. 1030 to 1400. Water levels were low with lots of available mudflat habitat....unfortunately it is not peak shorebird season yet so numbers were low.

 

We had 3 shorebird species....

 

1 Killdeer

3 greater Yellowlegs

10 Wilson's Snipe

 

Waterfowl were in good number with the following estimates......

 

15 Wood Duck

75 American Wigeon

30 N. Pintail

50 Green-winged Teal

75 Lesser Scaup

2 Tundra Swan

1 Mute Swan

75 Canada Goose

1 Gr white-fronted Goose

 

Other birds of interest

 

1 American Bittern

 

1 Bald Eagle (adult)

1 Northern Harrier

 

1 Caspian Tern

 

Overall not a bad day.....certainly cannot complain when one gets a "Flats lifer" in the from of the GWFG!

 

Take care and Good birding,

Raven

a.k.a.  Deuane Hoffman

           Harrisburg, PA, Dauphin County

           corvuscorax@comcast.net

 
4/11/07
 
Howdy All,

 

A short post now, more details on the day later.....

 

After loading up the boat to head home Cameron Rutt suggested we stop to look at the mudflats at the "Volleyball Net". This group of mudflats can be seen from the intersection of PA 441 and PA 999 just north of the main flats area. As I waited for Cameron to be done he waved me over to tell me he had a Greater White-fronted Goose!

 

Sure enough with about 5 Canada Geese there was a lone Greater White-fronted Goose. This was a new Flats bird for the both of us.....Jerry Book happened to stop by and had a look as well. Cameron shot some pics, maybe he will post the link.......

 

Other noteworthy birds.....

 

1 Caspian Tern (First of the year for Cameron and I)

1 American Bittern

 

In Harrisburg before we went to the Flats.....

 

1 Yellow Crowned Night-heron on its "nest"  (First of the year for Cameron and I)

 

Take care and Good birding,

Raven

a.k.a.  Deuane Hoffman

           Harrisburg, PA, Dauphin County

           corvuscorax@comcast.net

 
4/4/07
 
Deuane Hoffman and I headed out to the Conejohela Flats early this afternoon for a couple of enjoyable hours, despite the threatening weather.  Water levels were still very high; however it was the lowest that either of us had seen this spring in our three combined visits.  With the most mud came the highest shorebird diversity of 2007 – 4 species.

 

Shorebirds:

Greater Yellowlegs – 1

Lesser Yellowlegs – 1

Dunlin – 2 (with one individual having scattered black belly feathers)

Wilson’s Snipe – 6

 

Other highlights:

Common Loon – 7

Tundra Swan – 2

Northern Pintail – 2

Red-breasted Merganser – 2

Bald Eagle – 2

Osprey – 1

Bonaparte’s Gull – ~150

LITTLE GULL – 3

LAUGHING GULL – 3

Barn Swallow – 1

 

    The gulls certainly stole the show this afternoon.  As we were just about ready to embark from the boat launch, an adult Laughing Gull flew past us heading south.  It joined a second Laughing Gull in midair, with both birds then landing on Avocet Point.  When we trained the scope on the point, three smartly patterned adult Laughing Gulls were visible perched among the resting Bonaparte’s flock – a rare spring sight on the lower Susquehanna.

 

    Our third hooded gull for the day couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.  I had mentioned to Deuane how it would be really nice if a Little Gull was perched among the fairly large Bonaparte’s flock that was present on Avocet Point.  As luck would have it, only a few minutes passed before two adults drifted overhead and landed together, giving us excellent looks.  Compared to the Bonaparte’s, the Little Gulls’ shorter legs, shorter, slimmer bill, lack of a neck, and more front-heavy appearance was noticeable, in addition to other plumage characteristics.  If I consider all of the Little Gulls that I’ve seen over the last 11 days to be different birds (which is most likely incorrect), I’ve totaled 18-19 individual Little Gulls on the Susquehanna – evidence of this year’s excellent migration.

 

    Lastly, I spent a couple of hours between Wormleysburg and Fort Hunter this morning.  Among the various spots, I noted a single Red-necked Grebe, 168 Bonaparte’s Gulls, 2 Little Gulls, and a lone Barn Swallow.  The pair of Little Gulls was present north of Fort Hunter.  I also made a quick stop at the Enola Wendy’s where I was able to count 84 Great Egrets on Wade Island.

 

   Good Birding,

        Cameron Rutt

        Grantham,

        Cumberland County

 
4/1/07
 
I floated out to the Conejohela Flats for a few hours around midday.  As expected, the water was extremely high and there was only a very small amount of exposed mud at Gull Island.  Although I only managed one individual shorebird, there were a number of other highlights to keep me occupied.

 

Shorebirds:

Wilson’s Snipe – 1

 

Other highlights:

AMERICAN BITTERN – 1

Common Loon – 6

RED-THROATED LOON – 1 (first-year bird)

Tundra Swan – 2

Northern Pintail – 8

Blue-winged Teal – 4

Redhead – 2 (male and female)

LONG-TAILED DUCK – 1 male

Red-breasted Merganser – 61 (only a handful of males)

Northern Harrier – 1 male

Bald Eagle – 1

Rusty Blackbird – 1

 

    The American Bittern flushed out from the soggy south end of Gull Island, providing excellent looks in flight.  Unless it was by some uncanny coincidence, I believe I was able to get the Long-tailed Duck to actually call back to me this afternoon.  As I was floating out in the main channel, I decided, on a whim, to give my best impression of a male Long-tailed Duck.  Much to my surprise, the lone male yodeled back at me as soon as I was finished.  Despite subsequent attempts on my part, I was unsuccessful at repeating this feat.

 

    The other main highlights for today were the Little and Bonaparte’s Gulls.  I had over 100 Bonaparte’s Gulls resting and preening on the exposed mud at the north end of Gull Island.  The flock seemed to be constantly chattering amongst themselves, almost in a conversational manner.  On a number of occasions, I heard certain individuals emit what could be equivalent to the “long call” of many larger gulls.  I finally managed to watch one do this and its red mouth linings were obvious as it called.  Since I seldom get to hear Bonaparte’s Gulls, this was certainly a treat.

 

The gull breakdown:

Bonaparte’s Gull –

    317 counted from Long Level

    100+ resting on Gull Island (counted)

    100+ from Wrightsville

    Accounting for additional birds - ~600 for the Wrightsville/Long Level area

    108 counted at the Royalton Boat Launch, Dauphin County

    522 counted at Fort Hunter, Dauphin County

= 1,230

 

Little Gull –

    2 adult winter birds at Long Level (~10:45 AM)

    2 adult winter birds flying together closely past Gull Island (~1:30 PM).  I followed these birds until they disappeared upriver, still together.  In my opinion, these birds were likely different individuals than the other Little Gulls seen almost three hours earlier.

    2 adult winter birds at Fort Hunter, Dauphin County (~4:45 PM)

= 6

 

    Lastly, there was a pair of Long-tailed Ducks present off of Fort Hunter this evening.

 

   Good Birding,

       Cameron Rutt

       Grantham,

       Cumberland County

 
3/27/07
 
Howdy All,

 

Conducted my second International Shorebird Survey of the Flats yesterday. Myna and I took advantage of the exquisite early spring weather and regaled in the 80+ degree F temps! It was a real treat being out for the afternoon.

 

Shorebird habitat was almost non-existent with water levels being VERY high. There was a bit of mud and marshy backwater at the north end of Gull Island and that is where all of the shorebirds were found. We had 3 species for the day.....

 

Wilson's Snipe....16

Lesser Yellowlegs....7

Pectoral Sandpiper....2

 

More interesting than the shorebirds was the HUGE waterfowl and gull flocks. Most of the birds were located beyond the north end of the flats off Gull Island but many others were tucked in between the various islands too.

 

I had 17 species of waterfowl, 2 grebe sp. and my first of the season common loon. Gulls were less diverse with most of the birds being Ring-billed Gulls. I was able to get into the main channel for a bit and saw some Boneparte's Gulls moving in numbers, all totaled I counted ~500 birds. Seen in the various flocks I had 2 adult Little Gulls.

 

Numbers on the notable waterfowl.....

 

Wood Duck....crazy numbers! ~175

Blue-winged Teal (first of season for me)...6

Ring-necked Duck....large mixed raft with scaup...~500

Lesser Scaup....~750

Greater Scaup....~50

Bufflehead....~200 (most in one large flock)

 

Other birds of note....

 

Pied-billed Grebe....25

Horned Grebe...~150

 

Double Crested Cormorant....22

 

Osprey...2

Bald Eagle....2 I observed both of the birds from the Big Island nest.

 

All in all an absolutely GORGEOUS early spring day to be out...I only wished for a bit more shorebird habitat, oh well it wont be long and besides the waterfowl and gulls were entertaining!

 

Take care and Good birding,

Deuane Hoffman

Harrisburg, PA, Dauphin County

corvuscorax@comcast.net

 

 
3/23/07
 
Bob Schutsky and I went up to try for the Scott's Oriole.  We did find it. Bob will be posting later.  On the way home we stopped at Blue Rock Road in Washington Boro to check out the Conejohela Flats.  There were good numbers of waterfowl to be seen. Very heavy fog but open pockets of water at times.

 

Tundra Swans = 300+

Wood Ducks = 130+

Northern Pintail = 100's

Redhead = 3

Canvasback = 5

Lesser & Greater Scaup

Common Goldeneye

Ring-necked Ducks

American Weigon

Green-winged Teal = 5

Mallards & American Black Ducks

Pied-billed Grebe = 1

3 adult Bald Eagles and 1 immature

2 Rough-winged Swallows

 

Tom Amico

tamico@comcast.net

Holtwood, PA

 
1/16/07
 
[I got plenty of responses on this bird from top ID folks (which I'm not going to post publicly since they were sent to me privately for the most part, but got mixed responses either favoring Common Gull (L. c. canus) or Ring-billed Gull.  My opinion is that there isn't sufficient published information to facilitate solid identification of a few of these marginal Ring-billed/ Common Gull types... but keep looking at - and photographing them!]
 
All,

I wanted to get a few opinions on a first cycle Ring-billed type gull

that I digiscoped today near the Conejohela Flats in Lancaster County

(Pennsylvania, USA).

 The bird was ~5% smaller than other Ring-billed Gulls in the area

(about 15,000 of them...) and had some other  interesting

features:

 

1) dark mantle - darker gray than any other Ring-billed Gull in the

immediate area (regardless of lighting...) especially all the first

cycle birds I could see... also, the mantle was pure gray, with no

pale edging or retained juv-type mantle/ scapular feathers.

2) low contrast between greater coverts and the rest of the wing.

Greater coverts also had a brownish component/ edge to them.

3) apparently rounded dark markings on the median coverts (RBGU

generally has angular markings)

4) small, fine bill (some overlap with smallest RBGUs in area) - the

bill had a pink base and blackish outer 2/3, but the division between

pale and dark was blurred

5) large, dark eye with dark smudge around eye

6) most interestingly, perhaps:  the bird had a cleancut black

terminal band on the tail without any apparent dark flecking or extra

bands on the white uppertail or uppertail coverts.  I saw it in flight

once and also saw the tail briefly as the bird stretched and preened.

No clear photos of the tail, but I have one that has part of the tail

visible.

 

I unfortunately didn't get a great look at the underwing so I can't

report on that.  After photographing a putative first cycle hybrid

Ring-billed x Black-headed Gull in Harrisburg last year that I

initially supposed to be a possible Common Gull, I have been on the

look out for clean black and white tails on Ring-billed Gulls (a

feature thought to be characteristic of Common Gull).  I hadn't found

a similar tail until today... and I find it intriguing that the bird

with the clean black and white tail also is smaller/ dark-mantled/

small-billed than RBGUs in the area.  Could this  bird be a Common

Gull?

One point against Common Gull that I can see are the somewhat heavy

head and chest streaking.  The tertials also seem to favor Ring-billed

over Common, but I am not sure about their significance.  I am also

unclear on the bill pattern, though

Olsen and Larsson suggest that first cycle Commons are more variable

in this aspect than RBGU.

One troubling note in trying to put a bird like this in perspective is

that there really hasn't been much written that I can find discussing

the variability of Ring-billed Gull in relationship to variability of

Common Gull (or the unlikely possibility of hybrids thereof).

 

I'd like to hear some other opinions on the photos though.

 

The photos are the last of the photos at:

http://picasaweb.google.com/jaegermaster/Gulls

I've also added a couple normal looking first cycle RBGU shots to the

same album for comparison.

 

Thanks for any help...

Tom

--

Tom Johnson

Ithaca, NY

tbj4@cornell.edu

mobile:  717.991.5727

 

 

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