Date: 8/27/17 3:51 am
From: Bill Hohenstein via va-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [Va-bird] Chincoteague NWR and surrounding areas 8/21-8/27

We are wrapping up our week at Chincoteague and thought I'd send a note to anyone planning to come down in the next few weeks.

Overall, birding is rewarding but some of the usual spots are overgrown or filled with so much water that shorebirds are avoiding them. There are birds on the wildlife loop but many are way out in the impoundment. Phragmites has really taken over in spots reducing habitat and making it difficult to see.

Swan's cove: water levels are high limiting shorebird use. Terns and gulls are roosting near the viewing area by the visitors center and a few sandpipers are there, but viewing is difficult given the vegetation.

Tom's Cove: the area south of the parking lots is quite good. Roosting terns and sandpipers are using the area. Black, common, many many royal, Caspian, and sandwich terns, as well as skimmers are there. Although Black terns were only there for the first few days. Small plovers, sanderlings and turnstones are using the flats. Larger sandpipers, oystercatchers, willets, Marbled godwits, SB dowitchers, and a small number of red knots are out there roosting. A common loon is floating around in the cove (kind of cool).

Beaches: south of the parking lots. Activity picked up toward the end of the week, with red knot activity improving. Yesterday, I saw a flock of 9 and 20, including one banded one. The hook opens up on Sept 1 and there looks like a lot of birds down there.

Pony viewing area. The flats across from the pull out have a nice mix of sandpipers. both yellowlegs, dowitchers, and a stilt sandpipers. I saw a flock of blue winged teal pitch in there as well.

175 Causeway. Many sandpipers are using the area, including lots of yellowlegs. semipalm and least sandpipers, dowitchers and a good number of stilt sandpipers. The pull out on the north side is a good place to view.

Banded birds: A large number of Oystercatchers have been banded (about 25%). I found one banded red knot! These two species have large plastic bands that can be read from a distance. Royal and sandwich terns are also being banded with metal bands. Almost every sandwich tern I ran into was banded. The bands are impossible to read from a distance. A note on the sandwich terns: most were in pairs -- adult and juvenile together. I anyone knows anything about the banding program for sandwich terns I'd be interested in knowing more. My guess is that all of these birds are coming from the same breeding spot.

Other odds and ends. I spent a day on the OSV area of MD. Birds are similar to further south. I did find two dead sea turtles on the beach and an old shipwreck that had been uncovered by a storm.

Here are some photos and videos from the trip:

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