I met Bob Ringler and Tom Miller at 6:45am at the Park and Ride along Route 32 just south of Eldersburg. Tom kindly offered to drive to Lapidum along the Susquehanna River where we were to meet the rest of the people who signed up for Bob’s field trip. Most of them were from other clubs. Some had read about the trip in The Yellowthroat I suppose. Two were people we had attracted through our display at the Arts Council. Another couple, Jim and Laurel, had been on the Liberty Watershed foray. They were still deciding whether or not they wanted to officially join the club.
Once the group was assembled, we began walking along the Susquehanna River for a short distance. Most of this was road walking, but we still managed to put together a nice list of birds. Because we were birding between the woods and the water, this made for quite an interesting combination. Species seen or heard included Wood Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, Black-throated Green Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Downy Woodpecker, Yellow Warbler, Rough-winged Swallow, Field Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Northern Parula, White-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Fish Crow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Pileated Woodpecker, Tree Swallow, Common Yellowthroat, Double-crested Cormorant, Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Baltimore Oriole, Warbling Vireo, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Merganser, Bufflehead, Mourning Dove, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Bluegray Gnatcatcher, White-throated Sparrow, Blue-winged Warbler, Mallard, American Crow, Northern Waterthrush, Carolina Wren, and Carolina Chickadee.
Getting back in our vehicles, we drove along the river to Rock Run Mill. Here we added some new birds including Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Scarlet Tanager, and Great-crested Flycatcher. We spent a good bit of time here trying to track down a Cerulean Warbler. It was calling from a tree up behind the large house on the hill. Eventually, Bob spotted the bird. Unfortunately, it was turned away from us and not about to change its position before flying off. Still, we all had good views of its backside.
A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher put on a much better show. Our search for the Cerulean Warbler turned up a Red-shouldered Hawk that was perched in another tall tree. When we trained our binoculars on it, we noticed a smaller bird doing its best to irritate the hawk. Compared to the hawk, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seemed small indeed. However, it kept up its assault for a very long time.
Walking a short distance down an abandoned railroad right of way, we had some close views of a Prothonotary Warbler. Other species included Turkey Vulture, American Goldfinch, Song Sparrow, Black-and-white Warbler, Red-breasted Grosbeak, and Spotted Sandpiper. We also saw a starling if birder Chris Starling counts.
Piling back into the vehicles again, we drove to Deer Creek Picnic Area. An American Bittern had recently been spotted at the pond here. We never did find the bittern, however, we did see or hear Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Tree Swallow, Red-tailed Hawk, Mallard (with young), and American Goldfinch. Two butterfly species also attracted the group’s attention. These were Zebra Swallowtail and Meadow Fritillary.
Taking one of the trail into the woods, we got nice views of a male American Redstart. Other species seen or heard included Red-eyed Vireo, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Gray Catbird, Turkey Vulture, Kentucky Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-and-white Warbler, Veery, Blue-headed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler, and White-throated Sparrow. Bob also pointed out a Pawpaw plant which is the food plant of the Zebra Swallowtail caterpillar.
Back at the picnic area again we watched some Black Vultures soar overhead. That reminded us it was time for lunch. There was a nice pavilion there and clean rest room facilities. After lunch, some of us wandered over to some picnic tables near the woods to say hello to our friends from the Baltimore Chapter who were also birding there that day.
Before leaving Deer Creek, we added some more birds to our list. Barn Swallows and Tree Swallows flew over from time to time. We also saw an Osprey and a Red-tailed Hawk. A Northern Waterthrush appeared along the edge of the pond. New butterfly species included Pearl Crescent and Comma.
Those who wanted to continue, followed us in their cars to Swan Harbor Farm. There were a lot of other birders here when we arrived. Numerous rails had been spotted in the wetlands. Walking from the parking lot, we encountered Red-winged Blackbird, Tufted Titmouse, Tree Swallow, Fish Crow, House Finch, and Common Grackle.
In the first wet area on our left, there were some shorebirds feeding. Closer inspection revealed these to be Solitary and Least Sandpipers. A Swamp Sparrow hopped about in the vegetation and we could hear a Marsh Wren singing. At some point, a large dark rail (probably a King Rail) flew across the path ahead of us. We did our best to find it again, but were unsuccessful. There were lots of other easier targets in the marsh though. All one needed to do was sit for a while in the blind and watch the water’s edge. Both Virginia Rails and Soras were seen by most of the group.
The path around the marsh revealed other interesting species. These included Blue-winged Teal, Northern Mockingbird, Common Snipe, Savannah Sparrow, Little Blue Heron, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Lesser Yellowlegs. Pied-billed Grebes were calling from the marsh, but we never saw one.
The group parted company here and each of us went our separate ways.