27 members of the Virginia Society of Ornithology met at Craney Island Disposal Area in Portsmouth on August 19, 2016 to observe shorebird migration and the breeding birds that use the habitat created there. Guided by members of CVWO, Bill Williams, Brian Taber and Dave Youker, and accompanied by Kristen Scheler and several others from the Army Corps of Engineers which manages the site, the trip lasted four hours. Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory supports the on-going survey which continues Ruth Beck's long-standing conservation and education efforts at Craney Island and several other coastal Virginia sites. http://www.cvwo.org/
At the first stop on the high perimeter road, overlooking an impoundment along the south side, Black-necked Stilts, some in family groups, American Avocets, Stilt Sandpipers and both Yellowlegs were seen. Wilson's Phalaropes swam circles. Two Green Herons flew by while Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, & Snowy Egrets stalked the shallows. A Clapper Rail hugged the shoreline. An immature Bald Eagle sat barely concealed in the top of a tall pine. A Red-shouldered Hawk streaked directly over. En route to the next stop four Red-tailed Hawks were spotted perched on the power line poles. Brown Pelicans, Great Black-backed, Herring and Laughing Gulls, with several Lesser Black-backed and Ring-billed Gulls, sat on a sandbar on the east side. Caspian, Royal, and Common Terns were mixed in with Least Terns. The tide was too high to reveal flats for shorebirds but one Willet walked the shore. At a northwest impoundment shorebirds were feeding. Semipalmated Sandpipers predominated with some Least and Western among them.
A Black Swan that has been seen at Craney for a month was preening along the shore of an impoundment in the company of a Mallard. Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, a Green-winged Teal and many Mallards swam in the distance. Black Terns flew over. Two Yellow Warblers moved in the tops of the reeds. Chimney Swifts, Purple Martins, Barn and Bank Swallows cruised over. A Sharp-shinned Hawk and several Cooper's Hawks were seen. As the end of the trip drew close seven Glossy Ibis were spotted flying high over the I-664 bridge/tunnel.
Many thanks go to the Army Corps of Engineers for allowing the field trip, and to Bill Williams, Brian Taber and Dave Youker for their expert birding skills and extreme patience.
VSO Field Trip Co-chair
Official List of Observed Species
American Black Duck
Great Blue Heron
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull