Birding to Chincoteague and back

Tammy and I took an overnight trip to Chincoteague this weekend. It was an opportunity to get away for us, but also a chance for me to see some birds I had not seen before.

The trip to Chincoteague took us across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT), and there were several birds likely to be seen at island #1 (where the gift shop and restaurant are located) that I had never seen before (Brant, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck and Great Cormorant). Then, just after getting to the north end of the CBBT, there was a chance of seeing Eurasian Wigeon at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR. And Chincoteague NWR itself is always a good place to bird.

The birding part of the trip started off great. I managed to see three of my four target birds at CBBT island #1. The one I missed was Great Cormorant. I thought I had it as well, but a review of the field marks this evening showed me the error in my ways. On the other hand, a Brown Pelican was an added bonus in that it was something that was not on my list due to the infamous hard drive crash of 2005 (but something I knew I had seen before somewhere). I tried twice to get the Eurasian Wigeon, but was unsuccessful both times. On the way up I think I might have gotten a glimpse, but the birds spooked and flew away before I could get an ID on them. I tried again on the way back, but it was not meant to be.

I made up for the Eurasian Wigeon by finding a Horned Grebe offshore at Chincoteague NWR. Tammy wisely sat in the truck and stayed warm while I froze in the wind, scanning the ocean for diving birds and fending off opportunistic Ring-billed Gulls who thought the field guide I tossed to the sand might just be that snack they so expected from me. Just in case you did not know: there is a public beach located within Chincoteague NWR. The gulls there are used to people, and probably also used to people supplying them with food.

All in all, it was a good trip. Tammy and I got out of town, my Virginia List grew to 170, and my Life List has now officially grown to 302. I have no pictures of the birds that were new to my life list, but I do have pictures of birds. I will be posting some of them soon.

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