15-17 Sep 2017 - VSO Field Trip to Chincoteague, VA

Every fall is different at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, so join us to discover the surprises that await us on this year’s annual fall VSO trip, September 15-17. Last year we tallied 129 species, including a terrific combination of waterfowl, shorebirds and migrating songbirds.

American Oystercatcher at the refuge, photographed May 2013 by Rob Bielawski


To help us plan for the weekend, please register in advance. Provide the names of participants in your party with your mobile number and email address so we can contact you if needed. Register with Meredith Bell, trip coordinator, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824- 4958. If you’re also registering for one of the bus trips to Wash Flats (see below), be sure to state your preferred day.


The Refuge Inn on Beach Road in Chincoteague will be the host hotel (800-544- 8469 or 757-336- 5511). Room rates are $114.75 (plus tax) per night for a single or a double room, minimum two night stay. For those arriving a day early or staying an extra day, the rate for Thursday and Sunday nights will be $102. The Refuge Inn is non-smoking and no pets are allowed. To assure the VSO rate, make reservations by August 15 and state you are with the VSO when you call.


Meals are on your own. The Refuge Inn offers a complimentary continental breakfast for guests and will open early for us for breakfast at 7:00am. Chincoteague is known for its fine dining and you will be able to choose from any number of excellent restaurants.


Check-in time is 4:00pm. After you check in at the hotel on Friday, be sure to pick up a schedule of events for the week-end at the VSO headquarters, located in the Conference room at the far end of the Refuge Inn.  The Conference room will be open Friday from 4:30-5:30pm and re-open at 7:15pm.


An evening orientation and slide program will be presented in the Conference room by trip leaders Jerry Via and Bill Akers. Due the size of the room, we will have two sessions, at 7:30pm and 8:45pm. Jerry and Bill will also give a preview of birds in the area and a synopsis of the field trips for the week-end.


You can select from a variety of field trip experiences: "Morning Warbler Walk” on the Woodland Trail to look for migrating songbirds; “Motorcade to Assateague Beach,” with frequent stops to look at shorebirds; and “Birding and Biking” (Sat only) to explore the wildlife loop. (No cars are allowed until 3:00pm, so it’s a safe, easy ride. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one at the shop next to the Refuge Inn.) We’ll also offer two bus trips (Sat and Sun) and a Birding Boat trip (Sat only).


We have arranged for two bus trips to the Wash Flats: at 3:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am on Sunday. Thisis a restricted area in the refuge and can only be entered with special permission. The shorebirds and raptors are often abundant in this area. The bus has a capacity for 25 people. The cost per person is $13. If you want to go on this trip, you must make a reservation and specify your preferred day with Meredith Bell, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824- 4958. Payment will be made at the registration area when you arrive on Friday (exact change is appreciated). If you are unable to attend after making your reservation, please contact Meredith so that she can open up your space for someone else. This is a popular trip and fills up quickly, so we recommend that you register early.


There will be a special birding by boat trip Saturday at 10:00am (2 hours) with a local boat captain and his crew. You have a chance to check out the marshes and tidal flats up-close during low tide for interesting water birds and raptors. You must pay in advance and get a ticket. Between 8:30am-5:30 pm, go to Daisey’s Island Cruises, 3335 Main Street (blue boat house, with white fence in front) and pay $33 (cash or check) or $35 (credit card) per person. Bring cash for tip (to crew) on the boat. Departure is from the Curtis Merritt Marina at the Sound end of Chincoteague Island, 2246 Curtis Merritt Lane. Be there 15 minutes before departure. (Note: The boat can hold up to 100 people!). Contact Meredith Bell at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824- 4958 to register.


We will have a tally of the day's species at 6:30pm in the Conference room.


We will repeat many of the field trips from Saturday, so you will have a chance to sample many different areas. Check out time from most of the motels is 11:00AM.


If you are unable to get a room at the Refuge Motor Inn, you may want to try these motels close by: Best Western (800-553- 6117), Days Inn (800-329- 1992) and Sea Hawk (757-336- 6527). For additional information about lodging and restaurant options, check out the Chincoteague town website: www.chincoteaguechamber.com