ALL TUESDAY CYLBURN SPRING WALKS ARE MOVED TO LAKE ROLAND - Since Lake Roland will now be opened this spring, the Tuesday morning "Cylburn" walks will be moved to Lake Roland. All leaders, beginning times and dates (April 5 - May 31 at 8:30 am) remain the same.
POPLAR ISLAND - Originally scheduled Saturday, March 12. Due to a change in policy, state workers are not allowed to work on Saturdays. Therefore the Poplar Island trip date has been CHANGED to FRIDAY, MARCH 18. Time, meeting place, and required reservations remain the same. (Contact Gail Frantz, (410) 833-7135.)NOTE: A "new trip" referred to in the paper edition of Chip Notes to Southwest Baltimore County for May 28 is now no longer taking place.
The most important conservation topic in Maryland for the past few months has been "Land Use." It all started with the revelation that 836 acres of forested land in St. Mary’s County, recently acquired by the state, would be resold to contractor Willard Hackerman in a more-or-less secret deal. Even though Hackerman promised to re-donate most of the land to the state, after taking a hefty tax deduction, this was a very bad deal for Maryland. The secrecy, the lack of bids, and the favoritism to a politically connected individual all set bad precedents. When publicized by the Baltimore Sun, the "Hackerman deal" quickly fell apart.
The Sun built on this story by revealing that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources had compiled a list of a few thousand acres of public land that might be sold to private interests or given away to local governments. The DNR quickly published the list, which it said was only preliminary. Further, DNR explained that it was good management to get rid of land that was expensive to maintain and/or of little public benefit and/or of greater value to local government. Democrats critical of the Ehrlich Administration were skeptical, given the Hackerman deal, and proposed legislative oversight (not part of current law) for the sale of any state lands.
Maureen Harvey, Conservation Chair of the Maryland Ornithological Society, has sensibly asked that all chapters of MOS prepare a review of land parcels in their counties that are on DNR’s list. When chapter comments are compiled in early 2005 they may show a responsible, conservation-oriented process, in which case the only complaint might be that the DNR’s review should have been more open. Or the MOS study may show that some properties of great natural beauty and ecological value have been tentatively slated for sale or transfer. At this point, I would not hazard a guess.
In Baltimore County, there are two parcels on DNR’s list. One is 3.7 acres in Arbutus, part of Patapsco Valley State Park but separated from the river valley by a freeway. I had a look at this parcel - a few acres of scrubby woods - and I agree that it does not belong in the state park. This small chunk of land would be more valuable if added to an adjacent county park, which is what DNR suggests.
The second Baltimore County parcel is Pleasure Island, 33.3 acres just off the tip of a peninsula in Eastern Baltimore County. I looked at this parcel from the mainland during the Baltimore Harbor Christmas count - I saw a duck hunter and a row of decoys. Pleasure Island is of ecological value, at least as a connection between the Black Marsh wildlands (on the mainland) and Hart-Miller Island (directly east of Pleasure Island). Claudia Wilds’ book Finding Birds in the National Capital Area notes that rare shorebirds have been seen on Pleasure Island’s beach. However, the state proposes not selling the island but transferring it to local government. This might be all right if the transfer comes with restrictions on development.
Marylanders clearly support land conservation, so it seems odd that the State is exploring land sales. Also, as Tom Horton recently noted on WYPR, the state is committed to buying thousands of acres of land as part of an initiative to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Nevertheless, it may make sense to sell or donate some parcels of state land, especially if any income is re-invested in land of greater conservation value. Stay tuned; this issue is sure to be argued in the 2005 legislative session.
The Board met on November 9 and December 14, 2004. Both meetings focused on ways to cut the budget. Not counting the $20 portion of dues that goes to MOS, the BBC is now charging individual members $20. We are seeking to reduce the budget in order to set and maintain a $15 (maximum) membership fee for several years even as costs rise and our membership shrinks. In November and December the Board reviewed the current budget line-by-line, with an eye to how expenditures match member priorities as determined by the Spring 2004 Membership Survey. We hope to vote on budget cuts at the January Board meeting. We plan to put the new budget up for a membership review and vote at the March Annual meeting/Lecture.
In November Patsy Perlman, Cylburn Bird Museum Representative, showed us architectural drawings commissioned by the Cylburn Arboretum Association for renovating the Carriage House. The renovation is now expected to cost $1,079,000, with money raised from private sources.
In December the MOS Conservation Committee asked each chapter to evaluate the importance of state-owned land in their area identified as "disposable" on a list created by the state's Department of Natural Resources. The Board discussed our reactions to the possible sale or transfer of two state-owned properties in Baltimore County. The BBC Conservation Committee will further investigate this matter and report back to MOS. (See related article by Peter Lev, "Public Lands in Maryland.")
November 13, 1:00 PM - Flying Harris's Hawk Demonstration - Joe Platek and his Harris' Hawk gave an exciting demonstration on Bob Slaterbeck's 200 acre horse farm on Old Hanover Road. Participants helped Joe beat the hedge row to dislodge any rabbits, voles or mice that might be hiding there. The bird followed Joe, flying from tree to tree, as he directed it with a series of whistles. The hawk is trained to respond to a "Ho, ho, ho" from the beater when a flushed prey is spotted. Two rabbits and an unidentified small animal were flushed but escaped unharmed. Half a dozen Bluebirds, seven Horned Lark and a Red-tailed Hawk were among the species seen during the afternoon. Leader - Joe Platek, Participants - 14, including 3 children below the age of nine, Species - 7
Nov 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 - Tuesday Loch Raven Walks - Paul Noell comments that sightings were down from the previous year with only one Hermit Thrush and two Fox Sparrows for the whole month, and no Tree Sparrows; also few grebes and no teal, pintails, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers or swans. The weather was generally seasonable and dry. The trips were attended by two to four people. Leaders Elliott Kirshchbaum and Paul Noell.
Hospitality Chairperson Shirley Geddes reports:
Good Food, Good Friends, Good Time
On Sunday, Jan. 9th over forty members attended our annual covered dish dinner at the comfortable, convenient facilities of BYKOTA which is in the Balto. Co. Dept. of Aging, Central Ave., Towson.
Our speaker was world traveler Hank Kaestner. We were relieved to learn that Hank was not in that area of Asia at the time of the tsunami. His talks are always a vicarious way to travel and see the exotic birds he has encountered as well as learn how our everyday spices and flavorings are obtained.
Mark your calendar for a repeat next January 2006, It is great fun.
GET READY FOR SPRING!!
On Tues. Feb. 1st hear Daryl Durrow, owner of
Wildlife Landscapes talk on Plantings for Birds and Wildlife at Cylburn 7:30 PM
On Tues. Mar. 1st learn about rehabilitating wildlife from Kathy Woods at Cylburn 7:30 PM. Fun.
Canada Goose 1023 Mute Swan 42 Gadwall 62 EURASIAN WIGEON 1 American Wigeon 45 American Black Duck 49 Mallard 775 Northern Shoveler 13 Northern Pintail 9 Green-winged Teal 44 Canvasback 808 Redhead 1 Ring-necked Duck 32 Greater Scaup 15 Lesser Scaup 8160 Scaup sp 650 Bufflehead 378 Common Goldeneye 42 Hooded Merganser 35 Red-br. Merganser 3 Ruddy Duck 1019 Ring-necked Pheasant 5 Red-throated Loon 1 Common Loon 5 Pied-billed Grebe 16 Horned Grebe 2 D-c Cormorant 161 Great Cormorant 1 Great Blue Heron 46 Turkey Vulture 10 OSPREY 1 Bald Eagle (adult) 5 (immature) 0 Bald Eagle (total) 5 Cooper's 3 Red-should. 2 Red-tailed Hawk 11 American Kestrel 2 Peregrine Falcon 3 Virginia Rail 5 American Coot 363 Killdeer 6 Dunlin 2 BLACK-HEADED GULL 1 Bonaparte's Gull 1004 Ring-billed 2296 Herring Gull 476 Great Black-back 127 Rock Pigeon 692 Mourning Dove 292 Great Horned Owl 2 Belted Kingfisher 5 Red-bellied Woodpecker 16 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2 Downy Woodpecker 20 Hairy Woodpecker 4 Northern Flicker 23 Pileated Woodpecker 1 Blue Jay 30 American Crow 149 Fish Crow 27 Crow Sp. 127 Carolina Chickadee 26 Tufted Titmouse 30 Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 White-br Nuthatch 24 Brn Creeper 6 Carolina Wren 42 Winter Wren 5 Marsh Wren 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet 16 Ruby-crownedKinglet 12 Hermit Thrush 8 American Robin 180 Gray Catbird 1 Mockingbird 39 Starling 1136 Cedar Waxwing 16 Yellow-rumped Warbler 29 Prairie Warbler 1 Palm Warbler (Western) 2 Eastern Towhee 24 American Tree Sparrow 1 Field Sparrow 3 Fox Sparrow 4 Song Sparrow 147 Swamp Sparrow 11 White-throated Sparrow 343 White-crowned Sparrow 1 Dark-eyed Junco 108 Snow Bunting 93 Cardinal 129 Red-winged Blackbird 287 Common Grackle 40 Brown-headed Cowbird 2 House Finch 69 American Goldfinch 88 House Sparrow 250 SPECIES 94 BIRDS 22325 Observers 13 Paid Obsv. 5 Parties 7 START TIME 630 STOP TIME 1630 Total Hours 35 Foot Hours 42 Car Hours 6 Boat Hours 6 Owling Hours 2 Total Miles 96 Foot Miles 29 Car Miles 25 Boat Miles 6 Owling Miles Min Temp 22 Max Temp 50 Min Wind Max Wind 7 Direction Sky AM MS Sky PM MS Snow Cover Still Water PF Moving Water open OBSERVERS Stan Arnold Keith Eric Costley Wayne Gordon Kevin Graff Bill Ellis Peter Lev Jim Peters Ben Poscover Gene Scarpulla Gary Stouffer Debbie Terry David Walbeck Pete Webb
Immediately after returning from Nome, we borrowed a vehicle from Bob Collins for our Denali National Park trip some 240 miles north of Anchorage. We stopped for breakfast at the Talkeetna Inn and Resort.
The Inn is located on a hill overlooking a large lake with snow covered Mt, Denali in the background. The forest surrounding the lake is a mix of aspen, pine and fir. The Lake's surface mirrors the trees and mountain range in the background. What a magnificent location!
At Talkeetna, mountain climbers board bush planes that carry them to the slopes of Denali. There, the ski-equipped planes land on the snow fields where the climbers begin their attempt to reach the peak which is at an elevation of over 20,000 feet.
After breakfast, we continued north towards the park and upon our arrival, rented a cabin for the night. For the rest of the day we hiked trails near the visitor center, confirmed our reservations for the all day wildlife tour we planned to take the following morning, and viewed a demonstration of sled dogs.
We birded early next morning, while waiting for the tour bus to arrive. We saw a Steller's Jay, Gray Jay, and a Boreal Chickadee in the shrubbery. We listened to the Robins carol and the Ravens croaking. White-crowned Sparrows and Juncos were everywhere.
The nine hour, $23 per person bus trip covered 65 miles and stayed inside the Park. We brought our own lunches and we could determine when and where the bus stopped. Our excellent driver spotted much of the wildlife. Small groups of Dahl sheep grazed on the steep mountain slopes as well as a gray wolf and eleven grizzlies including two sows with cubs. Small herds of caribou roamed about with a particularly stunning trophy specimen bull moose. Mt Denali was visible during most of our tour and we took every opportunity to photograph the spectacular views it offers.
Among the birds we saw were Willow and Rock Ptarmigan, Golden Eagle, Gyrfalcon on their aeries, and Long-tailed Jaegers. Cliff Swallows were nesting in the eaves of the Eisilon Visitor's Center while Golden-crowned Sparrows and Gray-cheeked Thrushes sang in the willows.
Due to the Park's size, moving from one area to another requires using the bus. This bus tour is the only way to see the Park since private cars are not allowed beyond the Savage River Bridge which is some miles from the Visitor Center. Keep in mind that, since the park is so popular, reservations for tours and camping are a necessity. Don't skip the twenty minute orientation film at the Visitor Center which is presented by the Park's personnel. It's well worth the viewing time.
I loved this trip so much that I plan to return. Only next time, instead of accompanying a salmon fishing friend, I'll devote the trip to birding!
We're all saddened to hear that Ruth Culbertson's daughter, Dawn C. Culbertson, was stricken with an apparent heart attack and died unexpectedly.
Dawn played the lute and recorder, sang, composed, and was the overnight disc jockey on the former WJHU-FM, operated by the Johns Hopkins University. She also had a weekly hour-long program, "Exploring Early Music." and was the station's music librarian.
Back Yard Birding and Beyond
Back Yard Birding and Beyond
By Gail Frantz
Mark Linardi: Yesterday 11-27-04 at about 4:00, I spotted a mature, male Bald Eagle perched in a treetop along the inner trail at Lake Roland. It was located where the outer and inner loop converge out past the concrete pad area. I was scanning the treetops looking for Barred Owls when much to my surprise I focused in on this fellow. What was equally surprising was that the bird was perched in the middle of the woods, not in the marsh area where I have previously seen it from the concrete platform.
On birding in general... I've been visiting Cylburn at least once every weekend morning for the last 2 months. Primarily because of it's quick access to me and the solitude it affords. Occasionally their are some pesky humanoids on the upper grounds but the woods are generally peaceful and uninhabited.
I've yet to find any owls this season but have enjoyed a few special close viewings. A "lifer" Blue-Headed Vireo was viewed from just a few feet away in early Nov. I'd seen a few very distant fleeting ones in the past but this one was a "keeper". I was able to sneak up on a pair of Wood Ducks that were in the Jones Falls near the Vinegar Factory. What an eyeful! A single Sharpie, a curious Hermit Thrush, a secretive Winter Wren and several Red-tailed Hawks are among the other recent highlights.... and on the slow days the Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and White-throated Sparrows have always picked me up.
Georgia McDonald observed fledged young House Wrens on June 7: I was extremely fortunate to have been in the yard that morning just as the young were beginning to leave the nest. While we knew there were young in the box, we had never seen them. That morning I noticed they were hyperactive, poking their faces into the opening of the box, 2 & 3 at a time, and even perching in the entry. I was worried that they were going to fall out until I realized that the bird on the tree trunk was not one of the adults but a fledgling who was already OUT! I fetched my camera and took a bi-jillion shots, some from as close as 3' from the box. The birds could have cared less. After they were out of the box, they flew around erratically, landing on any vertical surface. I gave the camera to my more coordinated daughter and she managed to get a few shots of the fledglings---- Until one of them landed on HER! There were at least 4 fledglings, maybe 5. I had hoped we would get to enjoy the family in our yard, but the parents took them off to some other area and we rarely saw them again. Probably just as well since we have at least 3 different cats who include our yard in their travels.
Mark Miller: I am an avid bird watcher, amateur photographer, and apprentice bander. On November 29, I was out looking for Fox Sparrows to photograph when a pair of Sandhill Cranes caught me off guard. I sighted them for the second time on December 4. Once again they were coming in for a landing. I am quite sure they are landing in Bird River.
December 13, Bolton Hill, Bryce Butler: This morning I had a very bright Yellow-breasted Chat turn up in my small garden in Bolton Hill which is just northeast of downtown Baltimore. I spotted this warbler five days ago across the commons behind the townhouse complex I live in but was unable to get to the bird for a clear look before it flew off. This morning I observed the bird for about ten minutes at a distance of fifteen feet. What an unexpected delight.
Update, December 20: The Yellow-breasted Chat continues to visit my small garden. For the last several days, I've been putting out water for the Chat since he is drinking the water. However, it's been freezing so fast that I finally got out a water heater for the bird bath. Although I have suet available, the Chat, unlike the Carolina Wren, hasn't found it yet.
According to Kauffman's "Lives of North American Birds" there is a small population that overwinters in the northeast. Hopefully this is one of those. His daily appearances sure make me smile. He's a bright spot in these winter days.
Old Hanover Rd
On December 1, Bob Slaterbeck observed Turkey Vultures on the crest of one of the hills at his horse farm. As the hunters approached with a deer strapped to the motorized cart they use, the birds bobbed about on the ground waiting impatiently for the deer to be dressed at this usual place in the field. After the hunters left with the deer meat, the bones were stripped by the vultures in less than an hour.
Piney Grove Rd: On December 19 Jim Peters enjoyed visits from an immature Red-headed Woodpecker chasing a Red-bellied Woodpecker away from the suet & sunflower seeds he wanted for his own.
Let us hear about your Back Yard and Maryland Birding too!!!
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