Our first field trip of the school year was a real blast! The season’s first chilly day greeted us with brisk wind, and the Delaware Dunlins gathered at Brandywine Creek State Park to enjoy fall migration.
Right at the parking lot, we watched distant kettles of Broad-winged Hawks circling, along with Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks. Incredible! A male Eastern Bluebird perched cooperatively for scope views, and we added American Goldfinch and Carolina Chickadees to our list.
When our group of 25 enthusiastic youth and adults arrived at the “Magic Corner” of the rock wall, we found a lot of birds flying by! Chimney Swifts, Tree Swallows, Northern Flickers, and American Robins all seemed to be excited by the cold weather. Then an Osprey appeared right over our heads and circled tightly on distinctive bent wings.
Mr. Bill found a great bird perched on a snag and Jerald nailed the ID: a Merlin! This fierce and dark falcon gave us fantastic views through the scope. Suddenly a distant dark raptor zoomed by and it turned out to be a Peregrine Falcon! Then to add to the excitement, we found three American Kestrels hovering and catching grasshoppers in the meadow. Our smallest falcon, these kestrels showed off their orange and blue colors as they nimbly darted through the air.
Our last good bird of the morning was a very cooperative Field Sparrow perched in a pokeweed. Appropriately he was on the edge of a field!
We wrapped up our walk with a “tally rally” and found that we’d observed 35 species of birds. Lots of “Life Birds” added to young birder’s lists and plenty of fun memories made of our morning at Brandywine Creek!
- Field trip report by Derek Stoner, Delaware Dunlins Field Trip Coordinator