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All posts for the month July, 2009

By Derek Stoner, Education Program Assistant

A Roseate Spoonbill near Fenwick Island, DE, on July 2, 2009.  Photo by Derek Stoner.

A Roseate Spoonbill near Fenwick Island, DE, on July 2, 2009. Photo by Derek Stoner.

All Birds Bulletin:  Be on the lookout for a rare bird visiting the First State.  The suspect is 3 feet tall, has a huge spoon-shaped beak, and is bright pink! 

In late June, a Roseate Spoonbill arrived in the brackish marshes west of Fenwick Island, Delaware, and made itself at home.  However, “home” for this species is typically the Gulf Coast of Florida and Texas.  Spoonbills are known to occasionally wander northward, but this bird was the first ever documented in the state of Delaware!

Then on July 6th, another Roseate Spoonbill appeared at Fowler Beach, about 25 miles north of Fenwick Island.  Birders verified that these sightings represented two different birds, as both were seen simultaneously.

 A Roseate Spoonbill at Thousand Acre Marsh on July 17, 2009.  digiscoped photo by Derek Stoner.

A Roseate Spoonbill at Thousand Acre Marsh on July 17, 2009. Digiscoped photo by Derek Stoner.

On July 16, yet another Roseate Spoonbill report came in from Thousand Acre Marsh, which is in northern Delaware along the C&D Canal and Delaware River.  Curiously, this bird is in the company of a pair of American White Pelicans, another uncommon visitor to Delaware.   

A Roseate Spoonbill and American White Pelican compare beaks at Thousand Acre Marssh.  Photo by Jay Young.

A Roseate Spoonbill and American White Pelican compare beaks at Thousand Acre Marsh. Photo by Jay Young.

Does this mean that birds typically found in the Deep South are moving northwards due to changing climate and habitat?  That is a question to ponder.  

For now, we will enjoy a taste of Florida in the First State.

By Derek Stoner, Education Program Assistant

Japanese Wineberries are a common wild berry found in local woodlands and field edges.  Photo by Derek Stoner.

Japanese Wineberries are a common wild berry found in local woodlands and field edges. Photo by Derek Stoner.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of the outings my family made in pursuit of the fruit of summer: wild berries.  These berry-picking missions led to pails full of sweet wineberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. 
Whether eaten fresh in the field or transformed into a delectable pie, berry picking is a great ritual of summertime.  
A cluster of blueberries, some ripe and some getting ready.  Photo by Derek Stoner.

A cluster of blueberries, some ripe and some getting ready. Photo by Derek Stoner.

July is peak time for a variety of berries, both wild and the garden variety.   This week I visited my favorite blueberry patch in southern Lancaster County.  A planting of highbush blueberries that I’ve visited since my childhood, this hillside is now full of wild berries like wineberries and raspberries. 
A young Orchard Oriole pauses on branch before resuming its raid on a blueberry patch.  Photo by Derek Stoner.

A young Orchard Oriole pauses on branch before resuming its raid on a blueberry patch. Photo by Derek Stoner.

Birds like the appropriately-named Orchard Oriole, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and other frugivores visit the berry patches to gorge on the fruit, and in turn they hasten the spread of these fruits across the landscape. 

After all, what person(or bird) can turn down a fresh, ripe berry?
If you’d to be part of the berry picking fun, join the Delaware Nature Society for “Berry Picking Time” next Thursday evening, July 16,  from 5-9pm.  Visit the special Lancaster County berry hotspot, see some neat birds, and savor the flavors of summer! 
Visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org for more information.

By: Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

You don’t have to go far for a nature-study field trip, so over the holiday, I decided to see if I could find some small organisms in the yard that I could photograph. 

I turned my yard into a native thicket, which was bare grass 10 years ago.

I turned my yard into a native thicket, which was bare grass 10 years ago.

Walking slowly, I was able to photograph some small organisms, both familiar, and new to me. 

Long-legged Fly.

Long-legged Fly.

I identified this little colorful fly as a Long-legged Fly.  These metallic-looking predators are only about 1/4 inch long, and feed on very small prey like aphids, mites, and smaller flies. 

Blow Fly.

Blow Fly.

Another fly I found was a Blow Fly.  Blow Flies are used in determining the age of death for crime scene investigators, since their larva are carrion feeders and arrive at a carcass at predictable times after death.  The adults are usually pollinators of flowers.

Asiatic Multicolored Lady Beetle

Asiatic Multicolored Lady Beetle

This species should be familiar to you, but did you know that this species is an import from Asia?  This aphid predator is used in biological control of aphids in certain agricultural industries, but could possibly be displacing our native Lady Beetles.

Enchanter's Nightshade.

Enchanter's Nightshade.

This is a common native flower called the Enchanter’s Nightshade.  You might notice the little  seeds stuck to your socks on a nature walk later this summer, but right now, they are flowering.  A good close-up look at small flowers can reveal intricate details.
 

Take a slow walk in your yard and see what surprises you can find!   Take along a digital camera for close-up photography and use Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America for flower and insect identification.

Upcoming programs with the Delaware Nature Society include: Pine Barrens Wildflowers – July 18; Butterflies for Grownups – August 1; Dragon Run Full Moon Canoeing – August 6; and Hike and Happy Hour at Newark’s Cooch-Dayett Mills – August 14.  Visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org for more information.