• CANCELLED: April 22 2012 Field Trip to the Dismal Swamps


    This should be a great one! Bob Ake will lead us into (and hopefully out of!) the one and only Dismal Swamp in prime warbler time.  We can expect to see prothonotaries, prairies, palms, common yellowthroats and more.  Bob advises that our trip is also in prime time for a chance to see and hear the grail bird for the Swamp - the elusive and sought-after Swainson's warbler!

    You will recall Bob's recent presentation to our club on his sensational Big Year.  Bob is not only a premier birder, he is a true expert on the Swamp, which is not far from his home.  He recommended a Sunday trip, so we will have the warblers more to ourselves, since they are in spring migration plumage and voice and the Swamp will be jammed with other birders on Saturday.  So Sunday it is!

    We will begin by birding Jericho Ditch, an area which has yielded spectacular sightings for us in the past.  Bob will continue after the first area, for those who are inclined to see more of the Swamp's treasures, to lead us through either Washington Ditch or Railroad Ditch.  Bob will be up to date on what we can expect to see and hear in those other reaches of the Swamp.  Don't overlook your favorite mosquito repellent for the early hours.
    We will depart from Colony Square at 6:00 on the morning of 22 April and carpool down to Jericho Ditch.

    Please pack lunch and beverages, as there are no places nearby to purchase those.  There are restrooms at our stops in the swamp.  For anyone planning to come on your own, please meet us at the gate for the entrance road to Jericho Ditch no later than 7:00.  The number of cars permitted is limited and we will have a group pass for the day.

    This should be an excellent day's birding!  No need to RSVP and no limit on numbers of our members who may participate.  Feel free to contact Geoff Giles for any questions via email at  or phone at 757-645-8716.  Hope to see you there!


  • Bird Walk at New Quarter Park, March 24, 2012

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    We had 16 people at the Bird Walk this morning at New Quarter Park. Our leader, Bill Williams, was great in getting us on the birds. As good as he is, he had no control over the gnats chewing on us down at the floating dock. We finally had to adjourn to the shoreline to get away from the devouring masses. Jeanette Navia found the perfect place -- under the red cedar tree!! Bill counted 7 Clapper Rails yakking in the marsh but not one made an appearance on the mud flats. The Ospreys are busy building nests on just about anything that's standing in the water -- whether it's stable or not. One unlucky bird was trying to place sticks on a large orange buoy in the channel without much success.

    Here's the list below as Bill Williams entered it into eBird

    > New Quarter Park, York, US-VA
    > Mar 24, 2012 5:30 AM - 8:15 AM
    > Protocol: Traveling
    > 3.0 mile(s)
    > Comments:     63 degrees, partly cloudy, calm; low tide
    > 47 species (+1 other taxa)
    > Canada Goose  1
    > Mute Swan  1
    > Wood Duck  5
    > Mallard  3
    > Double-crested Cormorant  4
    > Great Blue Heron  6
    > Great Egret  2
    > Black Vulture  6
    > Turkey Vulture  13
    > Osprey  10     5 pairs at nest sites
    > Bald Eagle  1
    > Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern)  1
    > Clapper Rail  7
    > Greater Yellowlegs  1
    > Laughing Gull  4
    > Ring-billed Gull  1
    > Belted Kingfisher  1
    > Red-headed Woodpecker  3

  • Bird Club at NQP's Cabin Fever, March 24, 2012

    Our Bird Club will have an exhibit at New Quarter Park's Cabin Fever event Saturday, March 24. The event goes all day with a variety of activities, including our regular 4th Saturday bird walk at 7 am led by Bill Williams. Other activities in the morning: kayak races; bike rides; disc golf and more. The exhibitors will be displaying from 12 pm - 3 pm.

  • Bird Walk at New Quarter Park, March 10, 2012

    [flickr photo=6970785963  align=center]

    Participants shown below are: Front row, left to right - Sue Nordholm, Betty Peterson, Cynthia and Bob Long, Jenny and Chris Curtis and Jan Lockwood. Back row, left to right - Sara Lewis, Tom McCary, David Taylor, Deb Woodward, Anne Haupt, Leah Duckworth, Geoff Giles, Cheryl Jacobson and Janet Curtis.

    Sixteen hardy participants lent their eyes and ears to our bird walk on a sunny but blustery day in our favorite park.  The chill in the air seemed to cue the birds to stay quiet and cozy, except for five bald eagles, three red-tailed hawks and a northern harrier, all of which seemed delighted at a breeze they seemed to find ideal for  hunting and soaring.  They gave us some spectacular views, as did a gorgeous red-headed woodpecker, who stayed put in plain view for all to admire, as he stuffed himself on grubs from a high snag.

    The marsh at Queens Creek was unusually quiet and devoid of bird activity, with the exception of a nice raft of red-breasted mergansers which seemed pleased with the fish offering in the creek and lingered a long time for all to admire.  Two ospreys sat snugly in a distant nest and seemed disinclined to test the wind.  Otherwise, the chilly wind and slow pace of bird activity on the marsh caused us to shift our attentions to other sunny and more sheltered spots in the park.  That proved a good formula for an enjoyable walk with good spirits.

    Trip leader Geoff Giles was particularly grateful for the super spotting of Jenny Curtis, who contributed many of the best birds of the day.  Although numbers of birds were lower than usual, we did finish the day with a respectable 28 species.  Spring migrants and our breeding resident species are doubtless just around the corner!  Thanks to one and all for making this an enjoyable outing on a beautiful day!!

  • March 21 Meeting: Big Year Chronicles, Mark Adams

    Join us Wednesday, March 21 for Big Year Chronicles, a presentation by Mark Adams that will survey books about birding Big Years that have been published since Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher chronicled their 1953 field trip around North America in Wild America. Mark will highlight the classic Big Year books, and describe some lesser-known gems. Every Big Year book describes an ambitious bird watching adventure that was challenging, entertaining, educational, obsessive and occasionally dangerous. The Big Year territories covered by ambitious bird watchers include individual U.S. states, the American Birding Association Area, entire countries and continents, and even the world.

    Mark will discuss the varied goals, strategies, and technologies for birding Big Years, including his own Texas Big Year. Mark is an astronomer who works for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is the Assistant Director for Communications. Previously he was the Site Director for the University of Texas-McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of west Texas. A bird watcher since 1995, Mark chronicled his Big Year in Chasing Birds across Texas: A Birding Big Year (Texas A&M University Press, 2003). He is a regional editor for North American Birds magazine. Mark will be bringing copies of his book for sale at special prices ($25 hardcover, $15 trade paper), and he will be happy to sign them.

    Plan to join us on March 21 at 7:30 pm in Room 150, Millington Hall on the W&M campus. Geoff Giles will be providing the refreshments. Don't forget to use your parking permit.

  • Bird Walk at New Quarter Park, February 25, 2012

    Margaret Ware, Joyce Lowry, Ben Kaurich, Deb Woodward, Cathy Millar, Jim Corliss, Bob & Cynthia Long, Shirley Devan, Thad Hecht and Bringier McConnell joined leader Hugh Beard on a windy morning for the walk at NQP. They had great looks at Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers. The group found a total of 30 species. No group photo was taken.

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