Saturday, September 7, 2013

Joint Friends of Heinz Refuge-VFAS Bird Walk at Heinz Refuge

Friends of Heinz Refuge teamed with Valley Forge Audubon Society to host a guided bird walk September 7, 2013 at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia. More than 30 people came out to explore this urban oasis, one of the best birding hotspots in the area, with 300+ resident and migratory bird species recorded on the Refuge.

Encompassing nearly 1,000 acres of varied habitats, Heinz Refuge protects the largest freshwater tidal marsh in the state, and was designated an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA) in 1996. The main water impoundment served as focal point for our bird walk, showcasing several Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons and crouching Green Herons. Several dozen Double-crested Cormorants swam together in the deeper end, diving repeatedly after fish they were stirring. Numerous Wood Ducks huddled in shadows under trees along the waters’ edge. Belted Kingfisher and Northern Rough-winged Swallows were added to our list.

We walked slowly down the Dike Road, checking trees and shrubs for warblers, vireos and flycatchers that are migrating through Heinz Refuge. Besides the ubiquitous catbirds and robins, we found pockets of activity highlighting Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green and Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Great-crested Flycatcher. A Red-tailed Hawk circled fairly low overhead, banking for us to see his/her red tail in the sun!

We enjoyed a good show of terns at the Refuge Observation Tower. Forster’s Terns ranged back and forth hunting for fish, one of them plunge-diving in front of us to come up quickly with a fish. A single Caspian Tern passed by several times, providing good comparison to the much-smaller Forster’s Terns.

Thanks to Debbie Beer and Lynn Roman for leading the group, and everyone who participated in this joint Friends of Heinz Refuge and Valley Forge Audubon Society bird walk. We had a great morning together, finding 39 bird species. Click on link for eBirdchecklist. Bird list below:

Canada Goose 38
Wood Duck 25
Mallard 3
Double-crested Cormorant 35
Great Blue Heron 3
Great Egret 5
Green Heron 3
Turkey Vulture 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 8
Caspian Tern 1
Forster's Tern 5
Mourning Dove 2
Chimney Swift 3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Warbling Vireo 2
Red-eyed Vireo 2
crow sp. 1 (likely American, but it didn’t call to confirm)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 25
Barn Swallow 3
Carolina Chickadee 2
Carolina Wren 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
American Robin 6
Gray Catbird 8
European Starling 5
Common Yellowthroat 1
American Redstart 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 2
American Goldfinch 3

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