Saturday, October 14, 2006

Migrants at Point Lookout

Today I attended a field trip with my local Audubon chapter to Point Lookout State Park in Maryland. Point Lookout is a peninsula at the confluence of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. The very tip of the peninsula is occupied by a Coast Guard station; thus it is off-limits to the general public. However, just north of the station is a park with picnic groves and mixed deciduous-coniferous forest, including several large stands of loblolly pine. The park includes the site of a Civil War fort and prison camp, shown below. The peninsula acts as a funnel so that southbound migrants gather in the park before heading across the bay.

Thursday's cold front did not bring many migrants, unfortunately. However, the passing front left behind a cold, crisp autumn day. The sun was bright, the sky was deep blue, and the humidity was low, so that visibility extended far out on either side of the peninsula.

We were treated to two species in large numbers - bald eagles and brown pelicans. We first saw a group of one adult and two juveniles all flying together at close range. Later at least eight bald eagles were kettling together off in the distance, some almost at the limit of sight. Likewise, we started out seeing one brown pelican sitting on a piling. Then about ten more flew past, and then another dozen at very close range - maybe about ten yards away. At the north end of the park, another dozen or so were perched on a breakwater. There were also lots of yellow-rumped warblers, ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, brown creepers, and white-throated sparrows. Raptor flyovers included a merlin and a northern harrier.

A full report will eventually be available on the DC Audubon website, so I will leave my blog description at that. Some pictures are available at the DC Audubon site now, and more will appear later. Below is my personal trip list.


Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Canada Goose
Black Scoter
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Virginia Rail (h?)
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
American Herring Gull
Laughing Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
Brown Creeper
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Redstart
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal