Birds of Blackwater NWR
While birding Blackwater NWR near Cambridge, Maryland, on a recent trip, our group encountered a black band across the road. It was moving, like a many segmented snake.
Upon closer inspection, it morphed into a mixed flock of black birds. Some were red-winged blackbirds, some were brown-headed cowbirds, and a handful were European starlings in brown-spangled winter plumage. We had no luck picking out a rusty blackbird, Brewer's blackbird, or yellow-headed blackbird (that species with the most melodious of songs).
On very close inspection, via the spotting scope, we could see that the flock was mostly cowbirds (boo hiss!).
Still, it was an enjoyable phenomenon of fall migration.
Later, while driving from the refuge toward the Eastern Shore town of Cambridge, we happened upon a merlin. I had been wanting to see a merlin for the entire trip and tried to turn every kestrel into one. John Schaust, the chief naturalist Wild Birds Unlimited HQ in Indiana spied this beauty for me as we drove past it. Thanks John! That evening we added a peregrine falcon along the Choptank River, making it a three-falcon day! Sweet!
Blackwater is a gem in the National Wildlife Refuge system. If you have never been, mark it down on your list of must-bird spots of the eastern U.S.
Here is what sunset looks like along Blackwater's wonderful wildlife drive.