The Great Marsh Institute

Welcome to the Great Marsh!

Summer Bird Walk Wrap-up

The summer season is over and we are now in full swing with fall migration. We had three walks this season with one each in June, July and August. We had a total of 68 species observed including a Little Blue Heron which was a new bird for the property.

Our June walk has held on Sunday the second. June traditionally is a point where most of the species seen can be assumed to be breeding in the area. We took the group into the woodlands above the marsh. A group of five recorded fifty-one species over a three-and-a-half-hour period covering roughly five miles. Highlights included: Bald Eagle, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Great-crested Flycatcher, Veery, and Scarlet Tanager among the GMI regulars.

The July walk took place on Sunday the twenty-eighth. A group of seven spent close to four hours covering a little over three miles. While the birds were starting to “quiet down”, we managed to observe fifty species. The biggest highlight was a Juvenile Little Blue Heron, a first for the property. The group was able to get great looks as it perched on some dead snags in the marsh. Late July into August is when Herons and Egrets disperse from nesting sites into the surrounding areas. Other highlights included: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, plenty of Green Herons, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Swamp Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting.

Things slowed down in August as most species have finished breeding activities and males are no longer actively singing for mates or vigorously defending territories. Birding at this time of year becomes a mainly “site-only” activity and some species can be difficult to detect without an audible hint. A group of six spent about three hours in the heat on Sunday, August eighteenth and covered about three miles. We managed to view forty-three species. Highlights include: Wood Duck, multiple Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a pair of Cooper’s Hawks, Eastern Wood-pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, and Baltimore and Orchard Orioles.

As mentioned at the beginning, we are now entering fall migration and the number of species will start to increase again. Our next walk is scheduled for Sunday, September twenty-second at 7:00AM.

See you out there!  

Photo courtesy of Jim Moffett  

Avian Roundtable

In addition to our monthly GMI bird walks the July 28th walk will include a roundtable discussion at 10:30am of the following topics that should be of interest to fellow birders:

  • Results of our inaugural Blue Bird trail.  Jim Moffett organized a work party to build and install a dozen Blue Bird boxes this Spring.  Our dedicated volunteers, Dave and Joanne Karkosak, are doing weekly surveys of the nest activity which will be reviewed.
  • Mike Coulter has been using GMI’s SM-4 SongMeter to record bird songs in various parts of the Great Marsh.  Mike will discuss his results so far and future plans.  One of which is to apply for a grant from WildLife acoustics for a number of these devices to further studies of bird songs and the effect of Pa Turnpike noise on their activity.
  • Folks from Willistown Conservation Trust will provide an overview of the MOTUS project.  The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry arrays to study movements of small animals.
  • WCT has received a major grant to build and deploy approximately 40 automated receivers in PA, Delaware and Maryland.
  • GMI has been providing technical support to the MOTUS project.  Jim Moore will do a tour of our MOTUS test antenna farm and provide some results of our tag testing.

We hope you folks can make both events.  For the dedicated birders the walk will start at 6:30AM led by Mike.  If you choose to sleep in the Roundtable will start after the walk – probably about 10:30.

Please contact GMI’s Program director, Lori Moore at 503-544-3868 or if you plan to attend and if you will be arriving at 6:30AM or 10:30AM or anytime in between.  Please check in at the Nature Center when you arrive.