Thursday, July 2, 2015

Newburyport Birders' July 2015 Update

Birders,

In early June, our programs were great fun!  We had stunning looks at Cedar Waxwings passing a berry back and forth which is courtship behavior.  Chimney Swifts were flying into a tree with a few, dead branches at the tops.  They would grab a twig with their bills and transport it to their nest site - likely in a nearby chimney.  We watched a Savannah Sparrow bathe at the river's edge.  The grassland birds at Woodsom Farm are a joy to observe.  

What to look forward to for July:

We'll be birding at George Burrows Brookside Wildlife Sanctuary in South Hampton, NH this month!  The habitat there is very diverse, and this property is under birded. 

Join me for an evening at Plum Island's Purple Martin colony located at the north end of the island up by the lighthouse!

We're offering a new WETLANDS, BIRDS & BREWS tour!!  Newburyport Birders will bird local wetlands and then visit the local Newburyport Brewery.  The International Bird Beer Label Association says that there are over 300 beer labels with a bird on them.  So, birds and the world of brewing seem to go hand in hand. There's lots to learn about birds and brews; this outing will expand both your local knowledge of birds and beers. During this outing, we'll observe and learn about birds in local wetlands and then learn about brews at a local brewery and sample beers.

West Newbury's Cherry Hill [Indian Hill] Reservoir is delightful for an evening stroll.  We're offering two, week night, evening walks.

SEASONAL SIGHTINGS

Observe the variety of shorebirds returning from their breeding grounds. They will feed on Newburyport's vast mud flats, extensive salt marsh, fresh water marsh, wrack line and impoundments during their migration south.

Appreciate the Tree Swallows. Swallows have flattened bills with wide gapes, long wings and short legs. Prior to their southbound migration, their diet changes from insects to bayberries which aid them in increasing their fat stores.

Identify the terns. They're graceful and long winged. Their slender, pointed bills allow them to forage in the intertidal zones.


GREENHEADS
Ipswich's Great Neck was my home prior to my heading off as a volunteer to The Gambia with the Peace Corps, and I had a stunning view of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and Sandy Point from our living room window.

In 1981, while in The Gambia, West Africa as a PCV, I received Kitty Crockett Robertson's "Measuring Time - by an hourglass" as a Christmas gift. I met Kitty several times in my Ipswich days, and she was a columnist for the "Ipswich Chronicle".

In Kitty's book, she states that Ipswich natives, raised on the fringes of the salt marsh, know about Greenheads. I thought our July/August newsletter needed to be inclusive of this pest, and Kitty's essay "A Native Knows About Greenheads" states "To spare the horses and ourselves, we did the haying sometimes by the light of the full moon, that magic time of black and silver, black trees and shadows, silver fields, and flooded marshes at the time of the neap tide." "The horses and the cows stayed in their stalls, let out to graze only at night or on foggy days when the greenheads sulk among the salt grasses."

The Greenhead is about 7/8 - 11/8" long, light brown in color with brilliant green eyes, a reddish brown thorax and abdomen. The wings have markings along the leading edge. They are found throughout the Eastern U.S., west to the Mississippi River and in eastern Texas as well as in southern Canada. Some people refer to the Greenhead as a
"salt marsh horse fly".

The salt marsh greenhead fly, Tabanus nigrovittatus, is abundant and bothersome in July in our coastal marshes. Because the females bite during daylight and occur in large numbers and attack persistently, they interfere with the enjoyment of coastal areas throughout much of the month. To anyone who has not visited the Newburyport coastal areas during "fly season", the impact of these flies on daytime activities is hard to imagine. Greenhead fly populations reach peak numbers during July but extend from late June into early August.

I had an array of bothersome pests as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and for me, the Greenheads are seasonal, irritant pests of the salt marsh. I love the Refuge but not in July.  Mrs. Robertson's essay, "A Native Knows About Greenheads", is an annual read for me...

BIRDING PROGRAMS

BIRDING NEW HAMPSHIRE'S GEORGE BURROWS BROOKSIDE SANCTUARYDate: Sunday, July 12
Time: 8:00 am - 10:30 am
Fee: $15
Meeting Location: Stop & Shop on Route 110 in Amesbury - we'll carpool to the sanctuary in South Hampton.

We'll bird the series of swamps and ponds created by beavers.  There's some marsh and heavily wooded areas too.  We will walk on unpaved, wet terrain.  Please be prepared with a long sleeved shirt, long pants, insect repellent and sunscreen.

PURPLE MARTINS OF PLUM ISLAND
Date: Wednesday, July 15
Time: 6:30 pm to dusk
Fee: $15
Location: North End of Plum Island by the Plum Island Lighthouse

Join Sue for a round of nest checks and learn about this human-dependent songbird. 
Wear long pants & a long sleeved shirt, insect repellent and bring a lawn chair. 

WETLANDS, BIRDS & BREWS
Date: Saturday, July 18
Time: 2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Fee: $20
Pre-registration is required - contact Sue at: newburyportbirders@comcast.net
Meeting Location: Junction of Hale Street and Malcolm Hoyt Drive in Newburyport

We'll ramble in local wetlands and and then tour a local brewery and its unique space to
relax, sip and snack.  We'll sample brews and have the opportunity to learn about local
beer. Participants must be at least 21 years of age.  We'll walk on paved terrain.  Be
prepared with a long sleeved shirt, long pants, insect repellent, and sunscreen.
EVENING BIRDING AT CHERRY HILL [INDIAN HILL] RESERVOIR
Date: Tuesday, July 21
Time: 6:30 pm to dusk
Fee: $15
Meeting Location: Meet at the Moulton Street end of the Cherry Hill [Indian Hill] Reservoir in West Newbury
in the pull off on the Reservoir side.

Join us as we search for birds. Participants should be able to walk on unpaved surfaces.
The pace will be slow as we walk out to the pump house. Please be prepared with a long sleeved shirt, long pants and insect repellent.  

EVENING BIRDING AT CHERRY HILL [INDIAN HILL] RESERVOIR
Date: Wednesday, July 29
Time: 6:30 pm to dusk
Fee: $15
Meeting Location: Meet at the Moulton Street end of the Cherry Hill [Indian Hill] Reservoir in West Newbury
in the pull off on the Reservoir side.

Join us as we search for birds. Participants should be able to walk on unpaved surfaces.
The pace will be slow as we walk out to the pump house. Please be prepared with a long sleeved shirt, long pants and insect repellent.

HUMMINGBIRDS IN OUR GARDENS 

Hummingbirds are a thrill to watch! 
Their brain is about the size of a BB. 
Their nest is constructed of plant down, spider webs, lichen & tree sap. 
They eat about every 10 minutes. 
Their long tongues aid in nectaring. 
Their hearts are larger proportionally to their body than any other bird or mammal.
The long, thin bill is specially designed for sipping nectar & is one of the most
distinctive features of these birds. 
Their diet consists of insects and nectar produced by many flowers.  The exact sugar
concentration of nectar from different flowers can vary. 
They love a nectar feeder filled with fresh sugar & water solution ~ no red dye please!

Simple Recipe:
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup  sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Allow sugar to dissolve and remove from heat.
  3. Let the nectar cool and then pour it into your feeder.
  4. Store remaining nectar in the refrigerator.

PRIVATE BIRDING TOURS

There's a natural draw to appreciating birds. We'll customize your tour complete with one of our guides! Get outside with Newburyport Birders; you'll observe, appreciate and identify birds.  Birding is good for you!

Birding can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve concentration. Take a deep breath of fresh air, listen to the sounds of the birds and appreciate their colors. There are millions of active birdwatchers in the United States who collectively spend more money watching birds than all Americans spend on movie tickets.

Contact Sue at: newburyportbirders@comcast.net and arrange your
private tour.

 
CONSERVATION TIP

For every ton of paper we recycle, we save:
17 trees that are 20 years old,
4200 kilowatts of energy -- that's 6 months of power for an average home,
7000 gallons of water,
84 pounds of air pollutants from entering the atmosphere.

With curbside, it's so easy to recycle!
WILDLIFE AND PESTICIDES
  • If you choose to use a pesticide, always read the label carefully before each use. Pay special attention to the "Environmental Hazards" section. 
  • Choose the least toxic products that are available and effective. 
  • Do not apply pesticides when it is raining or about to rain. This helps to prevent contamination of soils or water in drains, lakes, and streams. 
  • Do not apply pesticides right up to the water’s edge. Minimize water contamination by leaving untreated areas (buffer strips) along waterways and drainage areas. 
  • Never dispose of any pesticide in storm drains, sewer systems, or waterways. 
  • Granules left on sidewalks and driveways may wash into storm drains. Sweep these granules back onto the grass to minimize their movement. 
  • Many liquid pesticides pose the greatest risk to wildlife when they are still wet. Try to apply them so they will dry before animals enter treated areas. 
  • Do not spray flowers directly while bees [the pollenators] are visiting even on "weed" flowers like dandelions and clover. 

Good birding,
Sue

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