Parking Lot Birding – Common Raven in Cecil County, MD

Yesterday morning, Matt Boone picked me up around 8:00 to bird the Susquehanna River at Port Deposit for a couple of hours before spending the rest of the day mindlessly flipping through pages of a stat book. A mile down the road, Matt decided he wanted to get gas before we got too far, so we pulled into the first gas station we saw – a BP at the corner of Appleton Rd. and Rt. 277. As we were pulling in, I noticed a few vultures kicking around the back of the building. I needed Turkey Vulture for my Phone Skope Big Year, so I wanted to “twitch” that while Matt was pumping gas. Matt pulled up to the gas pump and a large corvid flew in front the car and towards the area the vultures were occupying. Matt said, “Whoa, that was huge. Was that a raven?!” The same thoughts were running through my head. I grabbed my bins, camera, and scope and creepily walked around the building.

I turned the corner and saw a handful of Turkey Vulture, two Black Vultures, and a lone corvid. Well, what was it? I scoped it quickly and saw a monstrous bill. It flew and had a wedge-shaped tail. Boom. It was a Common Raven. Common Ravens are rare in eastern Maryland and this represents only the second record in eBird. The bird flew away before I could get any documentation photos. I submitted it to eBird and gave Sean McCandless, a Cecil County nird (nird = bird + nerd), a heads up so he could try to track down the rarity.

We left the gas station feeling good and rolled down to Marina Park in Port Deposit. We spent an hour and a half birding the river. At the hour mark, my hands were freezing because I forgot gloves. Rookie move, I know. I saw 45 degrees as a high, so I’m lucky I didn’t wear shorts. Anyway, highlights from Marina Park include 5 Red-necked Grebes, a Long-tailed Duck, White-winged Scoter, a handful of Tree Swallows, and two flocks of Tundra Swans flying upriver.

We decided to head home, but wanted to swing by the BP to see if the raven came back. We pulled in and sure enough, the bird was chilling with the vultures again. This time, we left with documentation photos!

Common Raven near Elkton, MD on 2 March 2014. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Common Raven near Elkton, MD on 3 March 2014. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Common Raven near Elkton, MD on 2 March 2014. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.