PSO Annual Meeting May 29-31, 2015

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Field Trips - Saturday - Sunday

Leave from Days Hotel West Chester

The trips are limited to 20 participants each, so please register for the trips in which you are interested. Field Trip registration will be opened on April 29. Only 18 participants will be permitted to sign up online. Two spots will be kept vacant for sign up at the Friday evening social.

Saturday May 30

Ridley Creek State Park - Al Guarente
Ridley Creek State Park is a 2,600-acre tract of deciduous woodlands and brushy fields located in the northwest section of Delaware County in Edgmont Township.The park offers excellent birding throughout the year. There are two areas of the park that are a must for visiting birders: the Bridle trail north of Gradyville Road and the Lower Sycamore Mills Road. Other areas of the park that offer good birding are: the Park Office area, Forge Road, the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, and the Blue Trail. The walk at Ridley Creek State Park is a fairly easy trail with one short moderate incline of about 200 feet long. The trails are a mix of gravel, dirt, and grass and the trip is about 2.5 miles in length. We might also go to the Headquarters area for another 1/2 mile. The entire trip should only be about 3 hours tops once we start walking. I will try to mention Larry's Kite and shorebird watch also. That can be a fun time.

Grasslands of the Laurels, King Ranch and Stroud IBA - Brian Byrnes
This Important Bird Area in central Chester County is a stronghold for grassland-nesting bird species in southeastern Pennsylvania thanks to tens of thousands of acres of protected lands. Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow are typical nesting birds. Dickcissel and Blue Grosbeak are also possible. Scrub/shrub nesting species of note include Blue-winged Warbler, Field Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Brown Thrasher. The area supports at least 43 species of birds listed in the Pennsylvania State Wildlife Action Plan, many of them in significant numbers. Among our stops will be the premier privately-owned property in the IBA, generally inaccessible to the public. We will spend a lot of time on foot, but hiking will not be strenuous. Restroom facilities are scarce; we will make a gas station stop when needed. Limit to 20 participants.

Nottingham County Park - Holly Merker
Nottingham County Park is set among our Serpentine Barrens region, and boasts specialty birds like breeding Yellow-breasted Chat, Pine Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-winged and Prairie Warblers, among others. The change in bird life in this area of the county is a direct reflection in the unique landscapes in this area, which are called the Serpentine Barrens. This area is defined by the change in soil ecology related to geologic features, specifically serpentinite rock, which is pale green and smooth. Due to the soil quality, which is characterized as “thin”, the botanical life in this region is vastly different, and includes species found nowhere else in the state. In addition to the unusual botany, there are butterflies and moths only known to be found in this area of Pennsylvania. Likewise, the Serpentine Barrens of Chester County is one of very few areas that is home to the beautiful, but scarce, Rough Green Snake. We will visit Nottingham County Park, and if time allows, we will make a trip to the nearby Goat Hill Preserve. Expect a few miles of hiking, some uphill. Bring insect repellent, in case of ticks. This trip will run both Saturday and Sunday. Restroom facilities are available at Nottingham County Park. Limit of 20 participants. Leader - Holly Merker

Longwood Gardens - Longer Trip - Carol Majors
Longwood Gardens - Shorter trip - Larry Lewis
Longwood Gardens is a renowned botanical garden, featuring acres of mixed habitats, extraordinary flower gardens, water gardens, vegetable gardens, native plant gardens, and more. The birding (and photography for those interested) there can be fantastic. They recently opened a new "Meadow Garden" which is nothing short of impressive with the thought that went into planning this garden,  keeping in mind native landscapes and specifically grassland birds. We will also visit an area not open to the public that contains an effluent pond and wetland. This will be a private tour. Leaders: Carol Majors and Bill Haldeman. Limit to 20 participants. Due to expected high demand, a 2nd trip has been scheduled led by Larry Lewis, this trip will be shorter in time and walking.  This walk will only go through the Meadow Garden and will begin at 9:00am and meet at the Longwood Gardens Visitors Center. For more information visit their website: http://longwoodgardens.org/

Great Marsh - Barry Blust
Great Marsh, located in northern Chester County, is located about 30 minutes from West Chester. The IBA is about 3400 acres of freshwater marsh, open water, ag fields, and hardwood forest. Target birds are Sora, Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, and Green Heron. All the forest breeding birds of Chester County are also likely. Knee high waterproof boots are recommended. We’ll hike trails through marsh and forest. A catwalk crosses the middle of the marsh. Bathrooms may be available.

Westtown School & Exton Park - Brian Quindlen
Seated among 600-acres, the Westtown School is rich in both species diversity in addition to ornithological history. Old-growth forests, rich wetlands, and the Westtown Lake offer a variety of habitats for a well-rounded checklist which includes marsh birds and a variety of warblers. Also, the Westtown School is the alma mater of famous ornithologists Townsend, Say, and Cassin.

Featuring one of southeastern Pennsylvania’s top emergent wetlands, Exton Park is a birding gem. Exton Park’s 12-acre pond attracts a variety of both waterfowl and shorebirds, and the surrounding wetland area provides great habitat for marsh birds. Matched with sprawling corn fields lined by hedgerows, this location offers up a wide variety of habitats. Species typically include Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Indigo Bunting, Green Heron, White-eyed and Warbling Vireo, and Wood Duck.

John Heinz NWR/Tinicum - George Armistead
Nearly 1,000 acres of diverse habitats, including the largest freshwater tidal marsh in the state, sustain a huge variety of resident and migratory birds. Visitors barely realize the refuge is situated next to mega highways and a busy airport, and become immersed in the urban oasis of Philadelphia’s wildest backyard, where more than 320 bird species have been recorded. Spring bird walks highlight myriad warblers, orioles, vireos and flycatchers, as well as waders, woodpeckers, wrens, swallows and Bald Eagles engaged with their 6th consecutive nesting season at Heinz Refuge.
Meet at Heinz Refuge Visitors Center parking area, near the stone building. Bring binoculars, water bottle and trail snack. Be prepared to walk at leisurely birding pace for ~4 hours, covering ~3 miles of flat, mostly-even terrain. Note that the Visitor Center opens at 8:30 am, with full restroom facilities, water fountains and beverage machines. There are porta-johns on refuge trails. Heinz Refuge phone# 215-365-3118. Address: 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia PA 19153.

Mt Moriah/Cobbs Creek - Tony Croasdale
Mt Moriah Cemetery Mount Moriah Cemetery located along Cobbs Creek in Southwest Philadelphia has a unique mosaic of habitats. This historic cemetery was neglected and then abandoned. An active friends group has taken over the property and is in the process of removing vegetation from many of the graves. They are committed to maintain the valuable wildlife habitat in the cemetery. The cemetery has a creek, woodlands, old ornamental conifers, and old fields. This is a good spot for kestrel, brown thrashers, and wood ducks. The brushy secondary growth is perfect habitat for mourning warblers that migrate in late spring.

Meeting Location: 62nd Street and Kingsessing Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143

Sunday, May 31

Great Marsh - Rob Blye
Great Marsh, located in northern Chester County, is located about 30 minutes from West Chester. The IBA is about 3400 acres of freshwater marsh, open water, ag fields, and hardwood forest. Target birds are Sora, Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, and Green Heron. All the forest breeding birds of Chester County are also likely. Knee high waterproof boots are recommended. We’ll hike trails through marsh and forest. A catwalk crosses the middle of the marsh. Bathrooms may be available.

Grasslands of the Laurels, King Ranch and Stroud IBA - Brian Byrnes
This Important Bird Area in central Chester County is a stronghold for grassland-nesting bird species in southeastern Pennsylvania thanks to tens of thousands of acres of protected lands. Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow are typical nesting birds. Dickcissel and Blue Grosbeak are also possible. Scrub/shrub nesting species of note include Blue-winged Warbler, Field Sparrow, Willow Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Brown Thrasher. The area supports at least 43 species of birds listed in the Pennsylvania State Wildlife Action Plan, many of them in significant numbers. Among our stops will be the premier privately-owned property in the IBA, generally inaccessible to the public.

We will spend a lot of time on foot, but hiking will not be strenuous. Restroom facilities are scarce; we will make a gas station stop when needed. Limit to 20 participants.

John Heinz/Tinicum - Debbie Beer
Nearly 1,000 acres of diverse habitats, including the largest freshwater tidal marsh in the state, sustain a huge variety of resident and migratory birds. Visitors barely realize the refuge is situated next to mega highways and a busy airport, and become immersed in the urban oasis of Philadelphia’s wildest backyard, where more than 320 bird species have been recorded. Spring bird walks highlight myriad warblers, orioles, vireos and flycatchers, as well as waders, woodpeckers, wrens, swallows and Bald Eagles engaged with their 6th consecutive nesting season at Heinz Refuge.
Meet at Heinz Refuge Visitors Center parking area, near the stone building. Bring binoculars, water bottle and trail snack. Be prepared to walk at leisurely birding pace for ~4 hours, covering ~3 miles of flat, mostly-even terrain. Note that the Visitor Center opens at 8:30 am, with full restroom facilities, water fountains and beverage machines. There are porta-johns on refuge trails. Heinz Refuge phone# 215-365-3118. Address: 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia PA 19153.

Nottingham County Park - Holly Merker
Nottingham County Park is set among our Serpentine Barrens region, and boasts specialty birds like breeding Yellow-breasted Chat, Pine Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-winged and Prairie Warblers, among others. The change in bird life in this area of the county is a direct reflection in the unique landscapes in this area, which are called the Serpentine Barrens. This area is defined by the change in soil ecology related to geologic features, specifically serpentinite rock, which is pale green and smooth. Due to the soil quality, which is characterized as “thin”, the botanical life in this region is vastly different, and includes species found nowhere else in the state. In addition to the unusual botany, there are butterflies and moths only known to be found in this area of Pennsylvania. Likewise, the Serpentine Barrens of Chester County is one of very few areas that is home to the beautiful, but scarce, Rough Green Snake. We will visit Nottingham County Park, and if time allows, we will make a trip to the nearby Goat Hill Preserve. Expect a few miles of hiking, some uphill. Bring insect repellent, in case of ticks. This trip will run both Saturday and Sunday. Restroom facilities are available at Nottingham County Park. Limit of 20 participants. Leader - Holly Merker

Bucktoe Creek Preserve
Bucktoe Creek Preserve is a 297-acre privately-owned natural area located near Kennett Square, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The preserve is managed to enhance biodiversity and promote sound ecological stewardship through forest, meadow, and wetland restoration. Our primary goals are to provide a stable location for long-term environmental monitoring and ecological research, a refuge for threatened ora and fauna, and a site for educating naturalists at all levels of expertise.

Valley Forge National Historic Park - Mike Harvell & Rick Wolf
See a variety of migrating and resident birds on the northside of the park at Pawlings Farm, in the Desilting Basin and along the Schuylkill River Trail for herons kingfisher, Spotted Sandpipers, Great Blue Herons, Wood Ducks. We will also concentrate on looking for a variety of warblers. Meet Mike Harvell, President of the West Chester Bird Club & Rick Wolf retired park ranger and park service volunteer at the Pawling Farm Entrance of Valley Forge Park at 7:30A.M.

Pickering Creek Open Space - Vince Smith
Pickering Creek in Charlestown Township is a swift, clear running trout stream with Sycamore bottom lands and steep sloped Oak and Tulip Tree ridges.  Species expected include: Veery, Acadian Flycatcher, American Redstart, Yellow-throated Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Louisiana Waterthrush, and occasional Cerulean Warbler.  In close proximity (though not directly accessible) is a Great Blue Heron Rookery and The Charlestown Farm CSA with a Purple Martin colony. The walk will be about a 2-3 miles along a stream path with a one elevated hike into the uplands. It is suggested to wear tick spray or bug pants due to the high incidence of Lyme disease in our area.

PM Trip - Bucktoe Creek shorebird/kite watch - Larry Lewis
The preserve, previously mentioned, offers a fantastic horizon and skyline to observe migrant shorebirds winging north to their northern breeding grounds from the Delaware Bayshore. Bucktoe Creek Preserve is the only location in PA, and probably the US, where an active watch goes on daily, with a skilled counter/observer on duty. In addition to the amazing spectacle of migrant shorebirds, the site is the only reliable spot in the state of Pennsylvania where Mississippi Kites are seen annual during May and early June. The watch begins at 3pm daily, and ends when it’s too dark to see. No sign-up necessary for this trip

White Clay Creek - Bob Murray
White Clay Creek State Park is a Delaware state park adjacent to the Pennsylvania – Delaware border. It occupies 3,300 acres along the White Clay Creek, an 18.5-mile-long tributary of the Christina River. Sediment eroded from the rolling hills of Chester County is carried into the White Clay, probably accounting for the creek's name. Because White Clay Creek possesses outstanding scenic, wildlife, recreational and cultural value, it has been designated by Congress as a National Wild and Scenic River.

Besides the creek itself, the park offers diverse habitat including wetlands, fields and hardwood forest. This provides the opportunity for a good variety of migrant and resident bird species including warblers, vireos, tanagers and flycatchers. We will also take some time to look for non-avian species such as wildflowers, butterflies, turtles and snakes.

The walk will be on an abandoned railroad bed, along the banks of White Clay Creek, which forms a section of the Mason-Dixon trail. We will cover a total distance of about 3 miles. There will be bathroom facilities at the Nature Center, which is at the midpoint of the walk.

The park charges a fee of $8 per vehicle. Leader - Bob Murray

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