Birding by the Dredging Containment Site

I’ve been birding in Maryland for a few days with my grandson, Dane, and seeing a nice array of mid-Atlantic birds.  Today, we drove up to the Swan Creek/Cox Creek Impoundment area outside of Baltimore to look for a Red Phalarope that had been reported yesterday — and dipped on it but had a great time.

I am part of a local FB group, the Anne Arundel Birding & Bird Club, and they kindly sent me directions and procedures to follow at the site.  This place is crazy — nestled between a chemical plant and a power plant, it has large diked areas for material dredged from Baltimore Harbor.

 It’s an active site with trucks, large backhoes, and assorted machinery working away while birders aim their scopes at the containment lagoons.  Some forward-thinking folks worked out an arrangement that keeps over a 100 acres in a conservation easement and a lot of restoration work and replanting has been done — and birds love it: over 160 species have been spotted there.  There’s a lot of debris and funky looking liquids but like many landfills and wastewater lagoons, it’s a great place to bird.

We showed up and signed in at the office and met a couple of birders who told us that no one had seen the Phalarope – that many of the “big guns” were there early with no luck.  (Early arriving construction workers reportedly flushed it.)  Still, looking at the ponds and then walking down to some reclaimed wetland, we did fine.  A Little Blue Heron flew right over us giving us good looks.  (It’s great when Dane can see stuff without fiddling with bins.)

Little Blue Herons nest on the property. 

I was on the lookout for an Orchard Oriole since I needed one for my life list and they had been reported by many birders over the last few days.  Just as a new acquaintance, Matt Grey, was giving me the details on Orchard vs Baltimore Orioles, we saw several and got some wonderful looks through the scope.  Of course, Dane comes to my chest so we have a fun time adjusting the telescope but he saw it well.

An Orchard Oriole was a life bird for me.

We saw some other good birds:  A diving Least Tern (another lifer), a couple of Snowy Egrets, a Belted Kingfisher, an Indigo Bunting, and others.  Returning to the ponds at the starting point, we scanned one last time and through the shimmer, picked out a Black Bellied Plover on the far shore.  

I left with a good feeling about the balancing act that folks have worked out between an active waste disposal site and a rich environment for birds, and birders.  It’s a place we’ll come back to again.
Site and Blue Heron photo from The Maryland Yellowthroat.
Orchard Oriole photo by Charles & Clint

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