[va-bird] Brown Pelicans, color-banded or otherwise
- From: Henry Armistead <74077.3176@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: Virginia Birders <va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 21:58:37 -0400
Virginia Birders: There is scant information here on Virginia birds except for pelican banding statistics, some Monarch data, and a note to look out for color-banded pelicans ... HOLLAND ISLAND, Dorchester County, MD. Friday, August 19, 2005. c. 7 A.M. - 1 P.M. Overcast, light rain starting c. 11 A.M. and becoming stronger, temps in the 70s, winds SE 15, tide low becoming high then higher than normal, full moon. Delightful comfort level and the rain felt good. My thanks to Dave Brinker and John Weske for providing some of the numbers that follow. 9 of us went in 2 boats, launching from Crocheron, the objective to BAND NESTLING BROWN PELICANS at this new colony on Holland Island's middle segment. 252 chicks were banded. 100 of the chicks were in addition also color-banded. These are GOOD pelicans. They are DORCHESTER PELICANS. 21 of them had blood samples taken for West Nile Virus studies, the samples to be analyzed by the U.S.D.A. at Fort Collins, Colorado. The same birds also were the source of fecal samples for Avian Flu studies at Ohio State University. 35 Royal Terns were present at CROCHERON, most of them sitting on various docks and pilings. A yellow Warbler, no doubt a migrant, flew by the launching ramp. A couple of dozen martins were there. On one side of the pelican colony (SE) are 10 Double-crested Cormorant nests, most of them with large young, in a blowover dead tree, probably an American Hackberry. The pelican colony got off to a late start and the birds today were small, making them fairly easy to handle. A few nests had young too small to band, to wit: 5 nests with 2 young, 1 nest with 1 young, and 2 nests with 1 young and 1 egg. I am certain I noted all such nests. BANDERS were Dave Brinker and John Weske assisted by Liz Carracino, Gavin Brinker (Dave's son), myself, and 4 others, most of them associated with the Oxford Laboratory. The Brinkers and John spent the night of Aug. 18/19 at Rigby. The SETTING of the pelican colony site had varied surroundings. Most of the nests were in a dense Baccharis halimifolia patch towards the center of the island with a long but rather thick and even more dense stand of Spartina cynosuroides just to the west of the Baccharis. The east side of the island has a nice, long beach. The west and south sides are mostly marshy tumps and banks. The north end of the island is a little higher with a few small trees and has the only remaining house on Holland Island, a house that is the subject of a splendid, evocative photograph taken in 1953 by the great photographer A. Aubrey Bodine, that is on the back cover of the new title "the Disappearing islands of the Chesapeake" by William B. Cronin (Johns Hopkins U. Pr., 2005, 182pp., clothbound), an excellent book. This is the first time pelicans have nested at Holland. The first county record for pelicans was on July 4, 1996, when George Armistead and I saw 4 immatures flying over a sand bar at Pone (Bloodsworth Island), an otherwise disastrous day due to outboard problems. COLOR BANDS. A color-banded adult pelican was present, its band readable thru binoculars. It had been banded on July 11, 2000, c. 2/3 mi. to the East at the Spring Island colony, a colony that was Dorchester county's first, present there for several years. Be on the lookout for these color-banded pelicans. The color bands are on the left leg and are a rather striking, bright, rather light blue with conspicuous alphanuemric characters. Of course, the blue can fade or become covered with mud or worse. A couple of times half-grown pelican chicks left the island to swim out to where the adults were waiting for us to finish up. The adults harrassed the young birds to the extent that a boat rescue operation was mounted to bring them back to the island. A LITTLE LOCAL PELICAN HISTORY. The advent of the Brown Pelican in Dorchester county has been meteoric. On July 4, 1992, George A. and I saw the first ever seen in the county, 4 immatures at Pone (Bloodsworth) Island. On June 1, 2000, Marshall Iliff and I estimated 1,035, nearby in the Spring Island area. How is that for a dramatic change?! ALSO SEEN on Holland Island: 2 Monarchs. 2 Diamondback Terrapin. Many Seaside Dragonlets. 1 Yellow-crowned Night heron. A few each of Snowy & Cattle egrets, Glossy Ibis, Little Blue & Tricolored herons. 1 oystercatcher. 1 Semipalmated Plover. 6 Barn Swallows, 4 Purple Martins. 6 Red-winged Blackbirds. We were busy and there was not much time for birding. The big heronry here seems to have mostly finished its business for this year. There is an additional but small pelican colony in Worcester County, MD, the first nesting in that county for 10 years or so. It is near the MD/VA line at Big Bay Marsh. On July 20 there were16 nests, 9 with 3 eggs, and 7 with 2 eggs there according to Dave. A banding trip is planned there for September 10. Dave Brinker, John Weske and their assistants have banded 1,331 pelicans at South Point Marsh (including Peach Orchard Point), Accomack Co., VA, this summer, locations with an estimated total of 785 pairs, down a few hundred from last year's record number of nests, which I think was c. 1,100. Dave's project over the years has banded 11,672 pelicans since 1987 in MD and the greater South Point Marsh, VA, area. SKIMMER ISLAND, Ocean City, MD. I don't have the numbers with me at this place of writing but I believe John Weske, Dave Brinker et al. banded c. 225 ROYAL TERN chicks here this year, the result of 2 banding forays. In any case this colony is much reduced in size. In a later post I'll provide the exact numbers. This Royal Tern colony and the pelican one at Holland Island I think are the northernmost in the world for these respective species. "Rigby's Folly", Armistead property on Ferry Neck, Talbot County, MD, near Bellevue. Also on Aug. 19. Most of these seen by Liz Armistead: 3 gnatcatchers, a Black-and-white Warbler, a Yellow Warbler, and 50 Canada Geese. Rigby's Folly, Sat., Aug. 20. Clear but very hazy, 78-88 degrees F., calm. 14 Ospreys (in sight at one time). 26 Mourning Doves. 1 Pileated Woodpecker (flew across the cove). 1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo. 86 Mute Swans. Made 2 short boat trips, 4 & 6.5 mi. respectively, because I hadn't run the boat for 6 weeks or so. One has to wonder about the health of the Bay when, a mile offshore, the big, bright white, feathery lure is invisible less than a yard under the surface. Also: 10 Diamondback Terrapin frequenting the large bed of submerged aquatic vegetation at the mouth of the cove. This is very dense and the plants are so long that even at high tide the bed seems almost like an island. Liz sees a 7" Five-lined Skink on the front porch. The first Cloudless Sulphur of the year. Earlier in the week Anne A. saw an Opossum on the driveway. Daughters Anne and Mary, Michael Solomonov and his friend Rami spent last night here on their way to Nag's Head. What with the rains the no-till soy beans in our fields are doing much better than last year. Rigby's Folly, Sun., Aug. 21. 79-88 degrees, fair, with a refreshing, breezy front coming through in the late morning, winds NW 10-15. 3 Cedar Waxwings. 2 Snowy & 1 Great Egret. An ad. Bald Eagle made a couple of tries to snag fish at the surface of the cove before being divebombed by an Osprey. Once the eagle flipped over on its back while in flight and showed its talons to the Osprey. 5 terrapin. A few Silver-spoted Skippers, whites, Pearlcrescents, unidentified anglewings and ladies, and Red-spotted Purples but butterflies seem scarce this summer. Liz & I boated to Oxford to top off 'the Mudhen' (6.4 gallons). Lots of schools of small Menhaden at the mouth of the Tred Avon. Hardly any birds, a few Laughing Gulls and Forster's Terns plus a Common Tern on the rocks at the Oxford Yacht Club. Good 3-day period for Monarchs. They're on the move. 19 today, 13 yesterday, plus the 2 aforementioned ones at Holland I. on Fri. - more than I sometimes see at the peak of their migration here. In fact at the Hawkwatch at Kiptopeke State Park, VA, where Monarchs are counted also, in 2004 there were only 5 days with 19 or more (fide Robert L. Anderson). Lots of bluets (sp?), a damselfly, around the dock. Goldenrod is blooming. Best to all.-Harry Armistead, 523 E. Durham St., Philadelphia, PA 19119-1225. 215-248-4120. You are subscribed to VA-BIRD. To post to this mailing list, simply send email to va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx To unsubscribe, send email to va-bird-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field.
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