16-18 Sep 2016 - Chincoteague NWR, Accomack County

We could not have asked for better weather for the VSO field trip to Chincoteague on September 16-18, with sunny to partly cloudy skies for the entire weekend. We were excited to welcome many new members and first-time attendees, along with “old timers” who’ve been enthusiastic participants for decades. Our group of 85 tallied 129 species (see below), and the list included birds found on the Causeway, Chincoteague Island and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, mosquitoes were abundant everywhere on the Refuge, so it’s hard to tell how many pints of blood were unwillingly left behind!  Please note that this report continues after the gallery of images shown below (all photos taken by Lee Adams) so make sure to check it out!

Many thanks to field trip leaders Jerry Via, Bill Akers, Bob Ake, Mike Schultz, Saundra Winstead, Morocco St. Andre, and Meredith and Lee Bell, who worked hard to ensure participants had a great experience. Jerry kicked off the weekend Friday evening with a fascinating presentation on bird migration.

In addition to the “regulars,” we were thrilled to see species that we don’t get every year, including:

- American Golden Plover on the Wildlife Loop and one of the bus trips
- Piping Plover and Red Knot at Swans Cove
- Philadelphia Vireo and a family of Red-headed Woodpeckers on the Woodland
- Canada, Wilson’s and Magnolia Warblers on the Woodland Trail
- Buff-breasted, Stilt, White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers
- Red-breasted Nuthatches in good numbers on the Woodland Trail and
Wildlife Loop
- Whimbrel and Wild Turkey on the bus trip

While sparrow and thrush species were sparse, we had an abundance of Brown-headed Nuthatches on the Refuge as well as on the property of the Refuge Inn. Many guests also enjoyed the calls of a Great-Horned Owl after dark.

The boat trip Saturday afternoon in Tom’s Cove was a big hit, with 65 people enjoying close-up views of many species during low tide. Bob Ake did an outstanding job leading the group, with assistance from Mike Schultz.

As we did in 2015 for Ruth Beck and Peggy Opengari, we gathered at sunrise on Sunday morning to celebrate the lives of four very special VSO members we lost this past year: Fenton Day, Barbara Hudgins, Gene Moore and Jerry Thornhill. Jerry Via made some very touching comments about each person, and then others spoke up to describe their own stories and experiences. It was a lovely way to remember these remarkable people, and we all agreed it would become a tradition of the Chincoteague trip

We’ve already locked in the 2017 dates, September 15-17. Mark your calendar now and plan to join us for spectacular birding at a remarkable place!

Meredith Bell
VSO Field Trip Co-chair

Official List of Observed Species

Canada Goose
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Wild Turkey
Double-crested Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Clapper Rail
American Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
American Golden Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Stilt Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Least Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Great Horned Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Peregrine Falcon
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch
House Wren
Carolina Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow