AOS Spring Meeting Report

The Alabama Ornithological Society spring meeting on Dauphin Island was highlighted by an outstanding speaker, great bird sightings and a chance to bird with some of the best birders in the Southeast.The meeting officially kicked off Friday morning, but many AOS members drove down on Thursday or earlier in the week to get a head start on birding.

Summer Tanagers Photo by Ken Hare

Although the Friday field trip technically did not get under way until the group gathered at 6:45, many early risers greeted the dawn at the Dauphin Island airport where Sora and Clapper Rails were calling and skittering in and out of the reeds. The trip, led by Andrew Haffenden and our speaker, Dr. Mark Woodrey, caravanned up Interstate 65 to the Splinter Hill Bog site. While birding the site was the group’s main goal, the site is best known for the variety of carnivorous plants found there, including several species of pitcher plants and sundews. The group identified about 20 species of birds there, including a lingering Winter Wren, and at least two and possibly more Bachman’s Sparrows. One Bachman’s Sparrow even provided a nice concert for the group, singing and posing for photographers on a branch about 20 yards off the pathway.

From the Splinter Hill site the group headed for Meaher State Park on the Mobile Bay Causeway, where a short hike along the on the walkway over a section of the bay produced another 28 species. The Meaher SP stop was followed by lunch at Felix’s Fish Camp on the Causeway. After lunch, the members of the group scattered to bird on their own and prepare for the Friday evening pot luck dinner.

AOS members photo by Ken Hare

On Saturday morning, two field trips were on tap. One trip led by our speaker hit hot spots around the island. The other, led by shorebird expert Andrew Haffenden, walked from the pier to Pelican Island (now a peninsula). Andrew turns this field trip into a walking classroom on shorebird identification and behavior. A highlight of the hike was a Great Black-backed Gull.The

AOS members were the guests of Jenny Stowers for lunch on Saturday at her home overlooking the bay, thus allowing the birding to continue while members enjoyed good food and camaraderie. Dr. Woodrey’s presentation on Saturday evening focused on the coordinated research now being conducted in the Gulf states on the effects of the Gulf oil spill on a variety of animal life, but especially birds.

The Sunday morning field trip to Blakeley Island Mud Lakes was cancelled because of the threat of thunderstorms, but most members enjoyed further birding around the island despite sporadic rain.