Maryland - Delaware - New York - Connecticut - Rhode Island

May 2000

Teus Luijendijk

 

From 21 to 26 May, 2000, I was on a little business trip to the USA. I had to pay visits to a number of companies and institutions in Maryland and Connecticut. This allowed me to do some birding in that area. Although my list was not extensive (mostly because I was not able to go out birding in the mornings), you may be interested to read what I did see, to get an indication of the species that can be encountered in those states in this time of year.

First, as I arrived late on a Saturday night in Baltimore, I had the whole (Sun-)day for myself. I decided to drive to Sandy Point State Park, taking the 50 eastwards from Annapolis and leaving it just before the Bay Bridge toll station. It is well signposted.

Unfortunately, the park was closed for birding because of a blues festival. This made me go for a previously considered option, namely to drive on to Delaware Bay. I ended up in Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, which really was quite OK.

Continuing the 16 eastbound, you'll end up in Broadkill Beach. Just before reaching this, there's a fine mudflat. This held good numbers of waders and other marsh birds:

4

 

Black-necked Stilts

ca. 50

 

Semipalmated Plovers

4

 

Willets

sev

 

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs

ca. 20

 

Short-billed Dowitchers

ca. 150

 

Dunlins

>1000

   

Semipalmated Sandpipers

ca. 70

 

Least Sandpipers

3

 

Black Skimmers

1

 

Alder Flycatcher

Imagine my surprise when, on pishing at some bushes near the beach, out popped 4 Magnolia Warblers, a Black-throated Blue Warbler, a Solitary Vireo, 3 Yellow Warblers, 2 Common Yellowthroats, a Wood Thrush and a Brown Thrasher! This pishing works fine in Europe, but it's never as successful as here in N-America.
Spring was really underway and Cedar Waxwings were building their nests.

Too bad that not much activity was to be found on the beach itself; a distant group of some 50 Knot was feeding, but the big wave feeding on Horseshoe Crab eggs had probably already passed or was going on somewhere else. I later learned that the major spawning areas were a little more to the North, roughly between Slaughter Beach and Bombay Hook NWR. Lots of Laughing Gulls, though.

A little back from the beach, you will find road 236 leading North to the NWR Visitor Center. Here you can get a map and walk one or more of the trails. From the Dike Trail I saw some Least Terns, lots of Glossy Ibises, several species of duck and heard a Sora calling. The woods along the Boardwalk Trail were absolutely great with high numbers of (mainly Blackpoll but also Canada, Black&White and Magnolia) Warblers, a Northern Waterthrush, Carolina Wrens, White-eyed Vireos, Eastern Wood-pewees, Hairy Woodpeckers and some Redstarts. After ticking off 2 Northern Bobwhites on the road, I finally checked the Pine Grove Trail, which I unfortunately had to do a little hurriedly, since I still had quite a drive ahead. Here I saw 2 Pileated Woodpeckers chipping a tree to pieces, >10 singing Pine Warblers and many Ovenbirds.

On Monday evening (by then I was in the town of Frederick, Md.) I still had some time before it got dark, so why not? Out I went, to Gambrill State Park.

Take the 40 westbound, not the Interstate 70, as I did (I made quite some extra miles). It was late and somewhat foggy, so bird activity was low. However, I still managed to get good views of Yellow-billed Cuckoos mating, several Wood and Hermit Thrushes, Red-eyed Vireos and Scarlet Tanagers. It's always amazing when a male Tanager comes into view. Makes you need sunglasses....

The next day, it was time for me to fly back to New York. Arriving there around noon, I still had the rest of the day for birding (and driving into Connecticut). The weather had deteriorated now, with an overcast sky and quite a strong wind. Nevertheless, I drove to Jamaica Bay (which is very close to the airport) and had a look at the Gateway National Recreation Center. This reserve offers a combination of salt marsh (good for all kinds of herons) and some lush woods, which turned to be good for warblers. Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green and Yellow Warblers all showed themselves well, as did Redstarts, more White-eyed Vireos and a White-crowned Sparrow. The marshes yielded a flock of (Pale-bellied) Brent Geese, American Oystercatchers and several more species of wader.

On Wednesday, I drove in the afternoon, which was quite hot again, to Litchfield in NW Connecticut. Here, a fantastic park is situated (and well signposted) along the 202 SW, the White Memorial Foundation (Ph 860-567-0857). This reserve offers a variety of different biotopes, including some virgin mixed forest. A bird list with recent sightings is in the information shed. Just buy a map in the museum and bird away! I guess I could have stayed several days here. Now, I just birded the Catlin Woods and the Lake Trail. Best birds were >10 Common Nighthawks foraging at 1.30 p.m. over the forest, Least, Willow and Alder Flycatchers, Hermit Thrushes, a Northern Parula, a singing Rose-breasted Grosbeak and again several species of warbler.

Thursday morning had me birding in Groton, Ct. I went to Bluff Point Coastal Reserve, a site known for migration waves. Take exit 88 from the Interstate and head S on the 117. Turn R onto the 1 and make a left again after 0.3 miles (into Depot Lane). Pass under the railroad and the reserve is straight ahead. It's a nice area of woods, obviously attractive to migrating songbirds. Here, I saw some Tufted Titmice, several Blue-winged Warblers, a "Lawrence's Warbler" (the recessive Golden-winged Warbler hybrid) and a female Summer Tanager (near the railroad). This bird obviously had overshot its nearest breeding grounds, some 250 miles to the south.

In the afternoon, I drove to the State of Rhode Island, to see if any sea ducks were present at Sachuest Point (Ph 401-847-5511). Only 1 Eider and a distant scoter was all I could find. I obviously was too late for any Harlequin Ducks (which usually linger here during winter and early spring).

Friday morning was for birding and for driving back to New York, where I had to be arond noon. I chose for Devil's Hopyard State Park (E Haddam). This site can be found by driving the Interstate 95 and taking exit 70. Drive N on the 156 for about 9 miles. Then, turn right on the 82 and after 0.2 miles turn left onto a road signposted for the park. You will arrive at the park entrance after about 3.4 miles.

I walked some of the trails here and, although without a map, I managed to loop the orange trail (which goes up quite a bit). However, this higher altitude part was rather quiet. A gorgeous Louisiana Waterthrush was singing near the junction of blue and orange trail and along the stream (actually near the parking area), Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Swainson's Thrush, a singing Veery, Tufted Titmice and Acadian Flycatchers were seen.

The park offers many more trails, so I felt sorry for having to leave so soon. This site obviously deserved more scrutiny. Perhaps some other time!

 

For questions or remarks, please do not hesitate to send an e-mail to teus.www@tiscali.nl

For more information on these birding areas, see also:

A full species list:

1  

Double-crested Cormorant  

Phalacrocorax auritus  

2  

Great Cormorant  

Phalacrocorax carbo  

3  

Great Blue Heron  

Ardea herodias  

4  

Great White Egret  

Egretta alba  

5  

Tricolored Heron  

Egretta tricolor  

6  

Little Blue Heron  

Egretta caerulea  

7  

Snowy Egret  

Egretta thula  

8  

Yellow-crowned Night Heron  

Nyctanassa violacea  

9  

Black-crowned Night Heron  

Nycticorax nycticorax  

10  

Glossy Ibis  

Plegadis falcinellus  

11  

Mute Swan  

Cygnus olor  

12  

Canada Goose  

Branta canadensis  

13  

Brent Goose  

Branta (bernicla) hrota  

14  

Gadwall  

Anas strepera  

15  

Green-winged Teal  

Anas (crecca) carolinensis  

16  

Mallard  

Anas platyrhynchos  

17  

American Black Duck  

Anas rubripes  

18  

Common Eider  

Somateria mollissima dresseri  

19  

Red-breasted Merganser  

Mergus serrator  

20  

Goosander  

Mergus merganser americanus  

21  

Ruddy Duck  

Oxyura jamaicensis  

22  

Turkey Vulture  

Cathartes aura  

23  

Osprey  

Pandion haliaetus  

24  

Bald Eagle  

Haliaeetus leucocephalus  

25  

Red-tailed Hawk  

Buteo jamaicensis  

26  

American Kestrel  

Falco sparverius  

27  

Northern Bobwhite  

Colinus virginianus  

28  

Sora Crake  

Porzana carolina  

29  

American Coot  

Fulica americana  

30  

American Oystercatcher  

Haematopus palliatus  

31  

Black-necked Stilt  

Himantopus (himantopus) mexicanus  

32  

Gray (Black-bellied) Plover  

Pluvialis squatarola  

33  

Semipalmated Plover  

Charadrius semipalmatus  

34  

Piping Plover  

Charadrius melodus  

35  

Greater Yellowlegs  

Tringa melanoleuca  

36  

Lesser Yellowlegs  

Tringa flavipes  

37  

Willet  

Catoptrophorus semipalmatus  

38  

Spotted Sandpiper  

Actitis macularia  

39  

Ruddy Turnstone  

Arenaria interpres  

40  

Short-billed Dowitcher  

Limnodromus griseus griseus  

41  

Red Knot  

Calidris canutus  

42  

Sanderling  

Calidris alba  

43  

Semipalmated Sandpiper  

Calidris pusilla  

44  

Least Sandpiper  

Calidris minutilla  

45  

Dunlin  

Calidris alpina hudsonia  

46  

Ring-billed Gull  

Larus delawarensis  

47  

Herring Gull  

Larus argentatus smithsonianus  

48  

Great Black-backed Gull  

Larus marinus  

49  

Laughing Gull  

Larus atricilla  

50  

Black Tern  

Chlidonias niger surinamensis  

51  

Common tern  

Sterna hirundo  

52  

Forster's Tern  

Sterna forsteri  

53  

Least Tern  

Sterna (albifrons) antillarum  

54  

Black Skimmer  

Rhynchops niger  

55  

Mourning Dove  

Zenaida macroura  

56  

Yellow-billed Cuckoo  

Coccyzus americanus  

57  

Common Nighthawk  

Chordeiles minor  

58  

Chimney Swift  

Chaetura pelagica  

59  

Ruby-throated Hummingbird  

Archilochus colubris  

60  

Red-bellied Woodpecker  

Melanerpes carolinus  

61  

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  

Sphyrapicus varius  

62  

Downy Woodpecker  

Picoides pubescens  

63  

Hairy Woodpecker  

Picoides villosus  

64  

Northern Flicker  

Colaptes auratus  

65  

Pileated Woodpecker  

Dryocopus pileatus  

66  

Eastern Wood Pewee  

Contopus virens  

67  

Acadian Flycatcher  

Empidonax virescens  

68  

Willow Flycatcher  

Empidonax traillii  

69  

Alder Flycatcher  

Empidonax alnorum  

70  

Least Flycatcher  

Empidonax minimus  

71  

Eastern Phoebe  

Sayornis phoebe  

72  

Great Crested Flycatcher  

Myiarchus crinitus  

73  

Eastern Kingbird  

Tyrannus tyrannus  

74  

Horned Lark  

Eremophila alpestris  

75  

Tree Swallow  

Tachycineta bicolor  

76  

Purple Martin  

Progne subis  

77  

Northern Rough-winged Swallow  

Stelgidopteryx serripennis  

78  

Sand Martin  

Riparia riparia  

79  

Barn Swallow  

Hirundo rustica  

80  

Cedar Waxwing  

Bombycilla cedrorum  

81  

Carolina Wren  

Thryothorus ludovicianus  

82  

House Wren  

Troglodytes aedon  

83  

Gray Catbird  

Dumetella carolinensis  

84  

Northern Mockingbird  

Mimus polyglottos  

85  

Brown Thrasher  

Toxostoma rufum  

86  

Eastern Bluebird  

Sialia sialis  

87  

Swainson's Thrush  

Catharus ustulatus  

88  

Veery  

Catharus fuscescens  

89  

Hermit Thrush  

Catharus guttatus  

90  

Wood Thrush  

Hylocichla mustelina  

91  

American Robin  

Turdus migratorius  

92  

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  

Polioptila caerulea  

93  

Black-capped Chickadee  

Parus atricapillus  

94  

Carolina Chickadee  

Parus carolinensis  

95  

Tufted Titmouse  

Parus bicolor  

96  

Song Sparrow  

Melospiza melodia  

97  

Swamp Sparrow  

Melospiza georgiana  

98  

White-crowned Sparrow  

Zonotrichia leucophrys  

99  

Chipping Sparrow  

Spizella passerina  

100  

Eastern Towhee  

Pipilo erythrophthalmus  

101  

Rose-breasted Grosbeak  

Pheucticus ludovicianus  

102  

Northern Cardinal  

Cardinalis cardinalis  

103  

Indigo Bunting  

Passerina cyanea  

104  

Summer Tanager  

Piranga rubra  

105  

Scarlet Tanager  

Piranga olivacea  

106  

Black-and-white Warbler  

Mniotilta varia  

107  

"Lawrence's Warbler"  

Vermivora chrysoptera X pinus  

108  

Blue-winged Warbler  

Vermivora pinus  

109  

Northern Parula  

Parula americana  

110  

Yellow Warbler  

Dendroica petechia  

111  

Black-throated Blue Warbler  

Dendroica caerulescens  

112  

Pine Warbler  

Dendroica pinus  

113  

Black-throated Green Warbler  

Dendroica virens  

114  

Blackburnian Warbler  

Dendroica fusca  

115  

Magnolia Warbler  

Dendroica magnolia  

116  

Yellow-rumped Warbler  

Dendroica coronata  

117  

Blackpoll Warbler  

Dendroica striata  

118  

American Redstart  

Setophaga ruticilla  

119  

Ovenbird  

Seiurus aurocapillus  

120  

Northern Waterthrush  

Seiurus noveboracensis  

121  

Louisiana Waterthrush  

Seiurus motacilla  

122  

Common Yellowthroat  

Geothlypis trichas  

123  

Canada Warbler  

Wilsonia canadensis  

124  

White-eyed Vireo  

Vireo griseus  

125  

Solitary Vireo  

Vireo solitarius  

126  

Red-eyed Vireo  

Vireo olivaceus  

127  

Warbling Vireo  

Vireo gilvus  

128  

Baltimore Oriole  

Icterus galbula  

129  

Orchard Oriole  

Icterus spurius  

130  

Red-winged Blackbird  

Agelaius phoeniceus  

131  

Boat-tailed Grackle  

Quiscalus major  

132  

Common Grackle  

Quiscalus quiscula  

133  

Rusty Blackbird  

Euphagus carolinus  

134  

Brown-headed Cowbird  

Molothrus ater  

135  

American Goldfinch  

Carduelis tristis  

136  

House Finch  

Carpodacus mexicanus  

137  

House Sparrow  

Passer domesticus  

138  

Common Starling  

Sturnus vulgaris  

139  

Blue Jay  

Cyanocitta cristata  

140  

American Crow  

Corvus brachyrhynchos  


Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2000