The Dale Twining Project: Bird Records and a Bit of Birding History

by | Jan 6, 2017 | Dale Twining Project, WAS News

A group of WAS volunteers have been regularly, methodically and faithfully committing the late Dale Twining’s birding records to spreadsheets from which they will be edited by Wendy, Dale’s daughter and Stephanie, Dale’s granddaughter. These records will eventually be sent to Cornell’s eBird where others can access them. They provide a look into the past when birds such as pheasants were commonly seen and recorded.

But along with his meticulous birding records, which include numbers of individual birds on any given day, Dale also listed the names of participants on many of his birding ventures. For some of us old timers these lists bring back all sorts of memories. This past Monday I noted that, on a 1987 winter birding expedition, Dale mentioned participant Tommy Childs and her nephew Martin Selzer, our current field trip leader. Other participants on assorted outings were Dale’s wife Jeanette Twining, Ruth and Bert Zumeta, Sam and Alice Jones, Charlie Wonderly, Freda Rappaport, Evie Kramer, Lee Yoder, the Steeres, Ruth Pfeffer, Naomi and Bill Murphy and others. Incidentally, Dale also noted menu items at the little restaurants they visited on their birding trips.

But one entry made me smile. A little background is needed here. At that time, in the spring of 1987, Lynn Jackson and I were co-field trip chairpeople. In preparation for a trip to Assunpink, White’s Bog, Collier’s Mill and Trenton Marsh, Lynn and I, dutiful chairpeople, did a “scouting trip” to those areas a week before so we would be familiar with the areas before field trip day. All seemed perfect, weather permitting. But when field trip day came, Assunpink was having clean-up day. Loudspeakers announced donuts and coffee, and people were rushing around with huge trash bags. In Dale’s field trip notes Dale noted simply, “No birds at Assunpink. Clean-up Day”. At our next stop, White’s Bog, we were stunned to see that the little bridge had been removed. There was no way to get to the main part of the refuge. We explained to our field trip participants, “There was a bridge here last week!” Lynn and I had seen all sorts of birds, including bluebirds, on the other side of the bridge. Dale noted: “The bridge was gone.” Our final stop was Trenton Marsh, where barking dogs strained at their leashes to get at us. So it’s no surprise that the trip was thereafter called “The Field Trip from Hell.”

Volunteers on The Dale Project meet at Briar Bush Nature Center weekly to enter data. Others work on their own to the same end. It’s been fun, and there’s still lots more to do. Volunteers are welcome. To find out more, contact Sue Wright at or Wendy Clymer at