Rare bird attracts scores to Maryland farm

/ Source: The Associated Press

Sightings of a northern lapwing, a bird previously unrecorded in Maryland, have birders flocking to a Frederick County farm in hopes of getting a glimpse.

They were back in the area Thursday with binoculars and cameras following a sighting late Wednesday afternoon of the shorebird, which is native to northern Europe.  Experts said the male bird, which has a distinctive black crest, may have been carried off course by strong winds over the Atlantic Ocean.

"This is the sort of thing people would fly in to from all over the country," said James L. Stasz, co-author of "Field List of the Birds of Maryland."  "They call it chasing a bird."

There have been 22 documented sightings of the northern lapwing in the United States, but none in Maryland until Saturday afternoon, when Lynn Nelson of Frederick spotted it on Jeff and Denise Bryant's horse-breeding farm about 75 miles northwest of Baltimore.

"When we drove up to the bird, we thought it was a killdeer," Nelson's husband, Skip, told The Frederick News-Post.

He said they posted their discovery on the Internet, prompting a flurry of e-mails and the hasty arrivals of excited birders.  The Maryland Ornithological Society has posted some of their photographs on its World Wide Web site, www.mdbirds.org.

Frederick birder Barbara Gearhart said Wednesday she counted as many as 30 like-minded people in the area at once, including some from Virginia and Pennsylvania.  She said birders probably will keep checking the site for the next week, "and then just keep our eyes open at any field in Frederick.  It possibly just moved."

Denise Bryant said she didn't mind all the cars lining her 1,000-foot driveway and parking along nearby roads.

"It was fun, actually," she said, "Everybody's been very respectful and nice."