Ocean City Winter Trip (Feb. 11-12, 2017)

On Feb 11 and 12, 2017, some dozen Patuxent Bird Club members journeyed to Ocean City for a field trip led by Marcia Watson and Gene Scarpulla. Convening first on Saturday afternoon at the Ocean City Inlet, we braved cold and wind to scan the channel and ocean. Some of the birds found were both loon species, Common Eider females hauled up on the rocks for good views, Long-tail Ducks frolicking in heavy seas, Purple Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones close by scraping edibles from the jetty rocks. As darkness closed in we returned to our hotel rooms and reconvened for a joint dinner, where the group traded stories and digital photos.

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Purple Sandpiper at Ocean City Inlet. Photo by Fred Fallon, Feb. 11, 2017

Early next morning we met again at the jetty – now a warmer, sunny day but very windy. Here we added Red-br Mergansers and Brant to our list. Then an odd-looking, small bird was spotted intermittently as it bobbed and dived in the deep troughs of the turbulent waves. It took a while to reach a consensus on ID, but the small round shape and tiny bill left no choice but Dovekie (!) – rare to find so near shore and a life bird for several of us.

Friendly Patuxent birders make a hit. Photo by Mel Banks, Feb. 12, 2017.

We then visited the West O.C. pond, where we found at least 20 species of waterfowl. The group had fun out-doing each other in coming up with new species lurking among the emergent coastal shrubs or among the commoner species already counted.

 We then visited the recently opened and humorously-named “Berlin Falls” park, based on the former county waste-water treatment plant in Berlin, where we added a few more duck species.

Pre-trip scouting by early arrivals saved us long drive-times to unproductive sites, so we drove north to Indian River Inlet with its surging counter-currents. Viewing was difficult in the high wind, but good views were seen of Great Cormorants (lifer for many) and all 3 scoters. Best of all were 2 Razorbills, another alcid species sometimes seen near shore but not often.

Great Cormorants with Great Black-backed Gull at Indian River Inlet. Photo by Juanita Tate, Feb. 12, 2017

 From thence the group turned homeward while still reasonably early, very satisfied with our outing. A combined total of some 70 species was tallied, and even if not all were seen by any one person, it was an impressive count for a winter day.