Total Pageviews

Friday, November 6, 2015

A return to Chincoteague NWR - November 2015

Endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel
          It's been over four years since we have visited Chincoteague NWR on Assateague Island, VA. So Sharon and I made the three hour fifteen minute drive there this past week. We really lucked out on the weather as it was around 70 degrees each of the three days we were there. Upon our arrival we made a circuit around the island to see what had changed. We noticed a few new hotel chains have been supplemented to the many already existing ones, along with some restaurants, but the big change was the effect that Hurricane Sandy had on the beach area. The roads that used to be paved are now just sand which you are permitted to drive.
         The one thing that Chincoteague is famous for are the wild ponies. Usually we can spot them fairly quickly but we missed them all together the first day of our sojourn. But eventually we ran across a herd and a few singles here and there.

Dude in shorts in November viewing pony.
          Of course we also did a little birding. At the beach, I managed to add my only new state bird of the trip, a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Actually, there were quite a few. My high count was 18 gulls.
Immature LBBG

Note yellow legs and bi-color wings of LBBG

Sharon and Lesser Black-backed Gull

          While at the beach we noticed a very good flight of Northern Gannets passing fairly close to shore. There was a steady stream of them the whole time we were at the beach and the flight continued on each day we were there.

One of several thousand Northern Gannets
          There were also Sanderlings still running along the beach and three Ruddy turnstones put in an appearance. 
          I was scanning the fresh waters pools when I noticed a large flock of shorebirds flying around. They eventually flew out over the ocean and were badly backlit so I couldn't figured out what they were. Fortunately, they veered around and landed directly in front of us as we were standing on the beach. It turned out there were Willets, possibly western Willets. Any comments about the ID would be appreciated. A flock of about thirty-five.
Any comments on ID of Willets are welcomed

Gray coloration on Willets

Possible western Willets??

Photo included to show wide wing stripe

          Since the weather was so nice, we spent a lot of time on our bikes. The 3 mile inner wildlife loop of the refuge doesn't open to auto traffic until three in the afternoon so we had several hours of biking time to spend watching the birds on the wildlife loop. The surprise of the visit came when we found White Ibis in the impoundment. But not just one we found close to 80 of them, both immatures (70%) and adults.

           It's always a treat for me to encounter Tricolored Herons and we did find 13-14 of them scattered around the pools.

            Royals Terns were also present in copious numbers with lots of Forster's terns too.
Royal Terns and one Forster's on right

Forster's Tern
Pied-billed Grebe
           While back at the beach we found impressions in the sand.

             On the causeway that leads to Chincoteague Island we always stop at low tide to check out one of the coolest birds around. Feeding in the oyster beds were none other than American Oystercatchers.
American Oystercatcher

Female Boat-tailed Grackle
DC Cormorant

Sika Deer

               On one of our bike rides we came across a house that was blown off it's foundation during Hurricane Sandy.
A real fixer upper if you're interested
          So after a long Hiatus from Chincoteague we were glad to be back and promised ourselves not to wait another four years to return.
Sunset from our hotel balcony

Sunset at Tom's Cove

One Final Look

Chincoteague Light

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.