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August 23, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Birding along the Chesapeake Bay

As noted in a separate travel-oriented blog post, one of the reasons for the day trip which Jacqueline and I took to the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday was to look for birds that frequent marshy areas along the coast. In particular, I was hoping to be there for the release of a Bald Eagle that had been rehabilitated by the Wildlife Center of Virginia, located south of Waynesboro. The release took place as scheduled at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster County (see, but between traffic delays (near Richmond) and various "touristy" diversions, we just couldn't get there on time. I was sad to miss the opportunity to witness that, but we had a nice consolation prize. While approaching one Dameron Marsh, one of the natural havens along the Chesapeake Bay, we encountered a Bald Eagle in a tree right in front of us! I was spellbound, and quite happy to get such a nice, well-lit photo.

Among the other birding "highlights" that day, one was rather frustrating: I saw numerous Greater Black-backed Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants perched along the Robert O. Norris Bridge, which crosses the Rappahannock River. It would have been an excellent photo op, but there was no place to park on the bridge. At the first of the two nature preserves we visited, Hughlet Point, I heard a distinct chipping call in the trees, like an Indigo Bunting. Then I saw something moving and got a clear view of a male Blue Grosbeak, the first one I've seen this year. From the observation deck, I saw several Ospreys, gulls, and what I thought were small sandpipers. My field guide says there are no sandpipers that breed along the mid-Atlantic coast, however, so I'm guessing they were either Wilson's Plovers or Piping Plovers. I'll have to check to see which one is more likely. At Dameron Marsh I saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird just a few feet away, as well as a probable Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Unfortunately, I didn't see any of the specialized coastal herons (Tricolored Herons or Little Blue Herons) I had hoped for, so I'll have to devote more time and preparation to find those birds the next time I'm in that region.

Birds montage 20 Aug 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Osprey, Laughing Gull, Bald Eagle, American Goldfinch, Double-crested Cormorants and possible Royal Terns, and in the center, Great Blue Herons and a Killdeer. Roll your mouse over the image to see an enlarged view of the Bald Eagle.

More photos can be found on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page. Here is a list of the more signficant birds I saw that day, in approximate chronological order:

  1. Great Blue Herons
  2. Ospreys
  3. Double-crested Cormorants
  4. Herring and/or Ring-billed Gulls
  5. Greater Black-backed Gulls
  6. Laughing Gulls
  7. Blue Grosbeak
  8. Wilson's Plovers ?
  9. Royal Terns ?
  10. Bald Eagle
  11. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  12. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  13. American Goldfinch
  14. Killdeer

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 24 Aug 2016, 1: 53 AM

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The "home made" blog organization system that I created was instituted on November 1, 2004, followed by several functional enhancements in subsequent years. I make no more than one blog post per day on any one category, so some posts may cover multiple news items or issues. Blog posts appear in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the chronological order in which the posts were originally made:

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