It was a disgustingly wet day and a half on the E. Shore. With
Parasitic Jaeger and Nelson's Sparrow as my targets, I might as well have
stayed at home. I spent three hours friday morning doing sea-watch at the
OC Inlet, finding Ron Gutberlet and Carol Broderick there with a couple
other birders, and then hooking up for a while with Mike Walsh. Most
interesting birds at the inlet: one imm GREAT CORMORANT, 18 BLACK SKIMMERS,
6 of which were sitting in a puddle in the parking lot, and well over 1000
scoters from which I could only identify 2 Surfs and no White-wings.
Hundreds of them were Blacks and the remainder were sp. Paserines at the
inlet included a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and W. PALM WARBLER.
I could not have picked a worse day to look for Nelson's Sparrows.
Everything was flooded, starting with the roads in Ocean City. I drove to
Scott's Landing--the end of the road was submerged, and I had no idea how
deep it was; I turned around. I went to Truitt's Landing and a log was
placed across the road well past where the road became submerged. The
marshes were all lakes. At least the road and parking area at Taylor's
Landing were above water, but the marshes were now in deep water. No
sparrows today. I visited E.A. Vaughan North and by far the most
interesting bird there was a MARTIN among a couple hundred Tree Swallows.
The dusky throat and pale belly led me to call it a PURPLE MARTIN (extremely
late!), but I called Bill Hubick just the same and had him give me a little
primer on Brown-chested Martin, since Marshall Iliff just had one up in
Mass. this past week. Mine was definitely not that, but exciting anyway.
In fact, after the bird disappeared over the tree tops, I chased it out to
Taylor's Landing Rd., but could not refind it after some serious searching.
It was now like looking for a needle in a haystack because I estimated over
2500 TREE SWALLOWs swarming the skies, and that was a spectacle in itself.
But no more martin.
With all the marshes underwater, I decided to head back to OC for some
more sea watching, but alas no new birds. I spent the night at Irish Grove.
In the morning I had a chance to flush a few Virginia Rails from the Rail
Trail before the skies really opened up. I drove in rain the remainder of
the day. I skipped Rumbly Point Rd. because of the mud and inundated
marshes, and headed home. I stopped at the Pig Farm on Indiantown Rd. in
Dorchester Co., but there were only a few hundred Laughing Gulls out in the
open fields, easy to view, and no Franklin's. A PEREGRINE FALCON flew
across the road as I was heading back to US 50.
Sandy Point State Park was well worth the visit, and I was able to find
most of what others had seen while finding an overhang to keep the rain off.
My tally included 1 BRANT, 5 DUNLIN, 5 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, 7 CASPIAN, 4
ROYAL, and 26 FORSTER'S TERNs. I scanned the gull flock for oddballs, as
usual, but no Franklin's today.
Back home in Ferndale I was greeted by a SWAINSON'S THRUSH standing
right next to the driveway, and then a little later a partial look at a
BALTIMORE ORIOLE in the pear tree just outside our back door. This bird
raised my heart rate for a while as Elaine and I were toying with the
possibility of Bullock's Oriole, but in the final analysis we decided it was
an imm male Baltimore. I had called Bill on this one too, and he sent me
some Iliff photos of a Bullock's in Mass. last December. That's not what we
had in our yard.
So, a soggy couple of days with more rain to come! This crazy weather
should bring something spectacular. I'll let someone else find it, while
all my clothes, boots, and optics dry out.
Ferndale (AA Co.)