Birds in Delaware

Birdline Delaware

Rare Bird Alerts - November 20, 2015

To Report: Andy Ednie 302-792-9591 (VOICE)
Compiler/Transcriber: Andy Ednie (
Coverage: Delaware, Delmarva Peninsula, nearby Delaware Valley, Southern New Jersey, Maryland

For Friday, November 20th, this is Birdline Delaware from the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Greenville. The unofficial Delaware annual list annual list grew to 326 species. New species for the season this week included COMMON GOLDENEYE, COMMON MERGANSER, PURPLE SANDPIPER, and SNOW BUNTING.

The howling winds of November brought in scores of rarities from the Great Plains and beyond this week. FRANKLIN'S GULLS from the Midwest appeared in unprecedented numbers on the East Coast. In Delaware, FRANKLIN'S GULL were found at Newark Reservoir on Friday morning. The Veolia water treatment plant on Cherry Hill Island had a FRANKLIN'S GULL with 200 LAUGHING GULLS. Three FRANKLIN GULLS were seen flying over the Delaware River from the wharf in Battery Park at New Castle on Saturday . FRANKLIN'S GULLS were also reported at Augustine Beach and the Bayside of The Point at Cape Henlopen last Friday. Another FRANKLIN'S GULL was photographed at Indian River inlet on Sunday.

There was also a big influx of CAVE SWALLOWS from the Southwest. CAVE SWALLOWS were seen on Friday at the Cape Henlopen Hawk watch and Augustine Beach. Two CAVE SWALLOWS were seen flying over Caulfield Parkway at Bellevue State Park on Friday morning. On Saturday evening, CAVE SWALLOWS were seen coming in to roost along The Strand in New Castle. Those birds were also seen on Sunday morning, along with TREE and 3 NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS. ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW was also seen at the entrance to Fox Point State Park on Saturday. A BARN SWALLOW was flying among the TREE SWALLOWS at the Veolia water treatment plant at Cherry Island in Wilmington. Besides the CAVE SWALLOW and FRANKLIN'S GULLS at Old New Castle, other birds seen included GADWALL, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS.

A late male RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD has been coming to a feeder in Camden-Wyoming, south of Dover. That bird has been present since Monday. This is an exceptional late record, but not unprecedented. For you hummingbird aficionados out there, keep those feeders up. You never know what might show up!

Four AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS landed on the ocean opposite the Cape Henlopen State Park Hawk watch on Sunday. BROWN PELICAN was also seen that day at Cape Henlopen and in Dewey Beach.

A pair of HARLEQUIN DUCKS continue to be seen at Indian River Inlet, along with an immature male and female COMMON EIDER. These birds were mixed with both SURF and BLACK SCOTERS. The first PURPLE SANDPIPER of the season was reported at the jetty, along with RUDDY TURNSTONE and SANDERLING. There was a flight AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS flying over the ocean. Both RED-THROATED and COMMON LOONS were presents along with lots of NORTHERN GANNETS. A pair of GREAT CORMORANTS were on the post at the end of the south jetty. ROYAL and FORSTER'S TERNS were seen along with about 25 BOAT-TAILED GRACKLES. A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER was seen at New Road in Delaware Seashore State park south of Dewey Beach.

The first SNOW BUNTINGS of the season were seen at The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park on Sunday. A flock of 45 BRANT were also seen at The Point, along with BLACK-BELLIED and SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, SANDERLING and HORNED LARK. PEREGRINE FALCON and MERLIN were seen hunting there. The previously reported SEDGE WREN continues to be found along the Salt Marsh Spur Nature Trail behind the Primitive Youth Campground. Lots of BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCHES were found along the trail. A flock of over 200 AMERICAN ROBINS flew over plus 15 PINE SISKINS at the hawkwatch.

There was a huge migration of seabirds off Cape Henlopen this week. Over 10,000 SCOTERS were reported over the last three days, including high counts of 5200 SURF SCOTERS, 2000 BLACK SCOTERS and a total of 25 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. Other high counts included 440 NORTHERN GANNETS, 220 RED-THROATED and 300 COMMON LOONS. The first COMMON MERGANSERS of the season were reported offshore. Also seen was a PARASITIC JAEGER on Tuesday, several HORNED GREBES, GREATER SCAUP, GREAT CORMORANT, ROYAL TERN, plus BONAPARTE'S, LAUGHING and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. Both BLACK and SURF SCOTERS were seen from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, plus both LOONS, BUFFLEHEAD, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, GANNET, BONAPARTE'S GULL and ROYAL TERN.

A good collection of waterfowl is currently being seen on Gordon's Pond at Cape Henlopen State Park. Highlights included over 250 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 120 BUFFLEHEAD, both GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, HOODED and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER and PIED-BILLED GREBE. Three GREAT EGRETS were found, along with BALD EAGLE and MERLIN. Shorebirds included GREATER YELLOWLEGS and DUNLIN. Again, BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCHES have become ubiquitously. Wolfe's Point Water Treatment Plant had 2 BONAPARTE'S GULLS and over 40 NORTHERN SHOVELERS. 2 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS were found there also. HOODED MERGANSERS were seen at the The Pointe condominiums near Rehoboth Beach. PILEATED WOODPECKERS were once rare in the state – this week they were reported at Old Landing near Rehoboth, Greenwood, Abbott's Mill near Milford, and outside of Georgetown. WILD TURKEY, another bird that was once rare, was also at this later location.

A flock of 400 AMERICAN AVOCETS were at Prime Hook Beach Road in Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Also seen were 4 PIED-BILLED GREBES, RUDDY DUCK, FORSTER'S TERN and MARSH WREN. A raft of 20 SURF SCOTERS were seen off Broadkill Beach. Prime Hook headquarters had BARRED, SCREECH and GREAT HORNED OWLS. ROYAL TERNS were seen at the DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Inlet.

The first COMMON GOLDENEYE of the season was found at Big Stone Beach on Saturday, along with SURF SCOTERS. ROYAL TERNS were still present at Port Mahon, along with BALD EAGLES sitting on the old bulkhead pilings. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was discovered walking across the roadway at Port Mahon, plus a CLAPPER RAIL in the marsh. Lots of BLACK DUCKS and 3 BLACK SCOTERS were seen.

Birds at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Smyrna included 185 AMERICAN AVOCETS, although no GODWITS were reported this week. Other shorebirds seen included: BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, WESTERN SANDPIPER and LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and a few GREAT EGRETS remain. Waterfowl included over 60 TUNDRA SWANS, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, PINTAIL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, BUFFLEHEAD, RUDDY DUCK and AMERICAN COOT. The SNOW GEESE numbers have increased to 5000 birds, plus 4-5 DOMESTIC GEESE that get confused in the flock. AMERICAN PIPIT and HORNED LARK were seen along the entrance road. TREE SWALLOW and PINE SISKIN were reported along the Boardwalk Trail.

A RED-THROATED LOON has been present at the boat ramp at Augustine Beach. COMMON LOON, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER and FORSTER'S TERNS were also seen. GREATER YELLOWLEGS, DUNLIN and RUDDY DUCK were seen at the Port Penn impoundments. A flock of 6 BONAPARTE'S GULLS were over the bay at the Augustine Creek causeway. PIED-BILLED GREBE, AMERICAN COOT and BALD EAGLE were also seen. A late immature LITTLE BLUE HERON and female BLUE-WINGED TEAL were seen at Grier's Pond along Dutch Neck Road by Thousand Acre Marsh.

The previously reported BAR-HEADED GOOSE that is considered an escape has moved to the Winterthur Museum ponds along the entrance road to the visitor's center. A raft of 195 RING-NECKED DUCKS were seen on Hooper's Reservoir, plus 6 WOOD DUCKS, 3 PIED-BILLED GREBES and a HOODED MERGANSER. A big flock (or murder) of 250 FISH CROW were also reported. Harry's Pond at the Brandywine Town Center had HOODED MERGANSER, BUFFLEHEAD, RUDDY and RING-NECKED DUCK. A BELTED KINGFISHER was sitting on the rocks. KINGFISHER and AMERICAN KESTREL were seen at the Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington. A PEREGRINE FALCON was seen flying down Pennsylvania Ave in Wilmington near the Brandywine building.

Newark Reservoir had a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, plus a blue SNOW GOOSE, 29 BUFFLEHEADS, AMERICAN COOT and RUDDY DUCK. A MARSH WREN was also found near the reservoir, unusual in Delaware for this inland location. Also reported were YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and a flyover AMERICAN PIPIT. A flock of 34 PIPITS were found at the alfalfa field at the University of Delaware's Ag farm. FIELD SPARROW and KILLDEER were also reported, along with YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and a flock of 20 CEDAR WAXWINGS.

FOX SPARROWS were found at Middle Run Natural Area near Newark and at Ashland Nature Center. PURPLE FINCH and PINE SISKIN were also reported at Ashland, along with a PINE WARBLER on Monday. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was found on the old golf course at Pike Creek. Middle Run had a SCREECH OWL calling in the evening.

This is just in, 3 SAW-WHET OWLS were heard calling this evening in northern Delaware. So far, locations were not given.

Ashland Nature Center Hawk Watch was very productive this week, with two sightings of GOLDEN EAGLES on Saturday and Monday. Good numbers of BALD EAGLES, RED-SHOULDERED and RED-TAILED HAWKS are moving through. A total of 35 BALD EAGLES, 75 RED-SHOULDERS and over 100 RED-TAILS were reported. The first NORTHERN GOSHAWK of the season was reported at the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch last Friday. Sunday was a big flight day at Cape Henlopen, with 2 GOLDEN EAGLES, 26 BALD EAGLES, 5 NORTHERN HARRIERS, and a MERLIN. No OSPREYS were reported all week for the first time all season. So far neither hawk watch has found a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK.

Thanks to everybody that contributed this week including Derek and Hillary Stoner, Brian McCaffrey, Mark Chandler, David Bent, Jim White, Mike Moore, Gina Sheridan, Armas Hill, Jerald Reb, Teddy Burke, Jeff Holmes, Al Guarente, Eve Gaige, Bob Edelen, Diane Kane, David Fees, John Long, Alissa Kegelman, Amy O'Neil, Ken Wat, Mike Gardner, Kim Steininger, Anthony Gonzon, Chris Bennett, Sally O'Byrne, Joe Sebastiani, Bill Stewart, Ian Stewart, Chris Rowe, Lynn Smith, Sue Gruver, Sharon Lynn, Tim Freiday, Tim Schreckengost, Alan Kneidel, Maurice Barnhill, and Joe Russell. Special thanks to our hawk counters, Jen Ottinger and Sharon Ellison. Remember, the birdline needs your sightings! Please call your reports into 302-792-9591 or email Until next week, this is Andy Ednie wishing you good birding!

Birdline Delaware is compiled by Andy Ednie, the 2010 recipient of Delaware Audubon's Conservation Award. It is posted on the Delaware Audubon web site as a public service. The Birdline is not sponsored by the Delaware Audubon Society.