For any birdwatcher whether they be professional or casual, May is the highlight of the birding year. Peak migration in the first couple of weeks offers the chance to see and/or hear the greatest numbers of species in a single day.

This year The Great Marsh Institute is offering a unique charity birding experience, The GMI Big Birding Day, for a group of four people interested in experiencing a memorable day of birding while contributing to GMI’s mission to provide scientific and educational studies. This event will be held on Saturday, May 11th 2019. 176 species have been recorded on the property to date and we are hoping to see/hear over 90 species with a possibility of over 100!.  

The plan is to start birding at 6:00AM with a break for lunch at the Nature Center provided by GMI. After lunch we will continue to bird until as much of the property is covered as possible. We will hike, canoe, and utilize a gator to access all of the different habitats. 

GMI has numerous scientific and educational projects in the works and your donation to these efforts should be well rewarded with a great day of birding.

Mike Coulter 

See you out there,

Further details about the event:

This event is only open to 4 participants and the cost is $100 per person. To sign up for this even please contact Lori Moore: loritmoore46@gmail.com

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GMI’s March bird walk had a group of 14 birders’ enjoying the first signs of spring migration. The morning started off with a fly-by Bald Eagle cruising over the marsh. The catfish pond and the upper marsh hosted a pair of American Wigeon along with numerous Wood Duck, Canada Geese, Green-winged Teal and a pair of Black Duck. The first American Tree Swallows made their appearance as well as a FOY Eastern Phoebe. 
Heading out the the marsh and onto the lane, a group of 80 Snow Geese were observed migrating overhead. A beautiful Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in fresh plumage was seen as well. The first Fish Crows of the year were flyovers announcing themselves with their signature nasal calls. 
The wet woods near the turnpike gave the group excellent looks of at least a dozen Rusty Blackbirds and a very accommodating Pileated Woodpecker working the base of a tree at about 30 yards. 
All in all we observed a total of 45 species.
The next walk will be on Sunday, April 14th with a start time of 7:00AM as sunrise will be at 6:26AM. 
See you out there.

Photo Courtesy of George Tallman

When: March 10, 1pm

Where: Nature Center, 28 Moores Rd, Elverson, PA 19520

Come join us on Sunday March 10 at 1pm to build and install 6-7 Bluebird boxes to create a Bluebird trail on the property. Please bring a cordless power dill if you have one.

Sponsors:

We are looking for folks that would like to sponsor a nest box for $100.  This donation will help to maintain the nest box. Also we will put up a plaque on the bluebird box with your name or you can name the nest box (be creative).

Monitoring the nest boxes:

We are also in need of some volunteers to monitor the nest boxes on a weekly basis during the breeding season.

Please RSVP to Lori Moore at loritmoore46@gmail.com

 If you are interested in helping build nest boxes, being a sponsor, or monitoring the nest boxes.

Photo courtesy of Jim Moffett

A small group of three birders braved the snow covered marsh on February 10th. This is typically the “slowest” time of the year for the birds but we did manage to observe thirty-two species. 
Some of the highlights include: A pair of Wood Ducks circling the marsh adjacent to the catfish pond, 4 American Black Duck, 7 Ring-necked Duck, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle and 3 American Tree Sparrow. 
As we move out of February and into March the activity and number of species should be on the rise as we move into the very beginnings of spring migration. Our next walk will be on Sunday, March 17th. With the days getting longer and sunrise at 7:10 AM, this walk is scheduled to start at 7:30 AM. 
It’s time to start thinking spring and time to start brushing up on bird songs! (yes, while I know there won’t be a whole lot of singing in the middle of March I like to get an early start; but that’s just me…)
See you soon

Photograph courtesy of Jim Moffett

Our January bird walk took place on Sunday, January 13th. A small group of 5 birders braved the cold and were treated to a total of 27 species. 


As we move further into winter, the waters of the marsh have frozen and ducks and geese have largely moved on to seek open water. We were still able to record 38 Canada Geese and 3 Black Ducks as fly-overs. Despite the cold and frozen water we were able to see and hear some notable species including: Northern Harrier hunting low over the marsh, Pileated Woodpecker calling from the hillside, the first American Tree Sparrow of the season, White-crowned Sparrow working the feeders and three Rusty Blackbirds in the wet areas behind the catfish pond.


Our next walk will be held on Sunday, February 10th at 8:00AM.
See you then!

Photograph taken by Jim Moffett

On Sunday, December 9th we had a group of thirteen birders and decided to bird as a single group. It was cold but clear and windless day and the largely frozen ground made for some easier walking this month in the lower areas. Although the marsh was largely ice covered, there were some spots of open water available for waterfowl. 

A total of thirty-seven species were seen and some of the highlights included: 200 Snow Geese migrating overhead, 50 Mallards along with 2 American Black Duck. An American Kestrel flew in behind the Catfish pond and offered the group extended views as it perched in the top of a tree while surveying it’s surroundings. A hermit thrush was spotted low in the brush next to the Little Bass pond. A Fox Sparrow popped up at the racetrack and a female Purple Finch was perched above the lane. 

Our January bird walk will be on Sunday, January 13th at 8:00AM EST.

See you then.

On Saturday November 18th, 2018 we had a group of 24 birders for our monthly walk. It was a cool but pleasant day and the birds were very cooperative. Due to the number of people that showed up, we decided to split into three groups. Thanks to BQ and Jim Moffett for volunteering to lead two of the groups!

In total, we had 48 species. Some of the highlights include: Bald Eagle, migrating Snow Geese, scores of Fox Sparrows that are settling in to their winter habitat, Northern Harrier, Hermit Thrush, a holdout Catbird, Purple Finch, White-crowned Sparrow, Savanah Sparrow, and Rusty Blackbird.

Many thanks to Jim, Lori and Joan for the coffee, banana bread and warmth of the Nature Center! Our next walk will be on Sunday, December 9th.

See you then.

A group of five intrepid catwalk repair specialists set out on a chilly sunny morning to replace the rotted planks of the 500 foot long span that traverses the lower end of the Great Marsh. No easy undertaking by anyone’s standards. Jeff, the most experienced among us, had theoretically devised an ingenious way to detect the defective planks…by stepping on them. As evidenced by the broad smile on Jeff’s face the undeniable proof of his theory was apparent.

John, the fastidious keeper of tools for the day’s project, decided that after a hard morning’s work, it was time to clean and pack up the tools for the return trip. To that end he tossed the muddy and soiled crowbar into the clear water below. And in the selfless team spirit that John exudes, he then jumped into the icy water to retrieve the freshly washed tool.

Thanks to the mentoring and examples of both Jeff and John, both an inspiration to the other team members, the project was a resounding success. Jeff, Jordan and Joe gained some valuable experience for the next project. Our new team slogan… Watch and learn!”

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Jeff after testing an old section with a face plant!
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On October 14, 2018 we had a group of 10 ten birders show up for our bird walk. It was a much better weather day than our inaugural walk and the birds were very cooperative as we observed over 55 species throughout the morning.

Highlights included Blue-winged Teal, 13 Green-winged Teal, Northern Harrier, 5 Sharp-shinned Hawks, an Adult Bald Eagle, American Kestrel, Blue-headed Vireo, the first Brown Creepers of the season, 8 Purple Finches, White-Crowned Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, first of season Rusty Blackbird, and a first of season Pine Siskin was heard by members of the group.

Please join us on November 18th at 8am for our next bird walk.

See you then!

As some of you may know I have been working on a technical project to support a program of deploying automated receivers across the country to pick up coded signals from bird tags. I felt they could use some technical guidance from a retired electrical engineer and Ham radio hobbyist (W3ASA) since most of the folks involved are biologists and ornithologists. I have been working with Willistown Conservation Trust who are spearheading this effort in Pennsylvania. They recently received a $500K grant from US Fish and Wildlife which will be used to deploy more automated receivers throughout the mid Atlantic region. My role in this will be to advise on appropriate antennas that will be mounted on towers which will provide good directional information, be cost effective, and relatively easy to install in remote locations.

As part of GMI’s science mission we are supporting a test facility that will enable field testing of various antenna combinations and bird tags. The tags currently in use operate at 166 MHz. Cornell has developed a new tag which operates at 432 MHz in addition to allowing smaller antennas they have orders of magnitude more code combinations than the 166 MHz tags currently in use. We have antennas set up for these tags as well and are currently running tests on them.

Since Great Marsh has been designated as an Audubon Important Bird Area(IBA) it is appropriate that GMI support new technologies that will enable ornithologists and biologists to gather new information that was not possible without the support of this technology. See Motus.org for more information. This link shows receiver locations worldwide and if you zoom in far enough you will see the two Marshlands deployments

Jim Moore, October 4, 2018