SATURDAY, Sept. 23: LOWER EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA
Meet 7:30 AM, CBBT South Toll Plaza Parking Lot
Destinations include the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Kiptopeke State Park, and the woodland boardwalk at the Sustainable Technology Park in Cape Charles. Time permitting, we will visit Oyster and Willis Wharf. The farmlands and coastal villages will provide more bird-finding opportunities and is where we often are able to spot Eurasian Collared-Doves.
While shorebird migration begins in August, September brings an influx of other species on the move. The southern tip of the Eastern Shore is an important migratory bird stopover as it funnels birds together as they fly south. This effect provides us with great birding opportunities. In addition to large groups of shorebirds, the numbers of raptors and passerines can be quite remarkable. One September, we found hundreds of Blue Jays near Wise Point getting ready to cross the Bay. With the amount of rain this summer, we should be able to spot shorebirds feeding in flooded fields and ditches. Additionally, one never knows when we might see a rarity such as a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher or Hudsonian Godwit.
Most birding should be done from or near the cars, but any walking on trails will be at a leisurely pace. Expect the trip to last until mid-to-late afternoon.
Meet at the South Toll Plaza of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands to park and carpool. A smaller caravan will help to ensure that everyone can pull off on the side of the road when we spot good birds. Not to mention, it decreases the toll and gas expense per person, too.We will use the club’s 2-way radios which will keep us in communication with each other.If you see a good bird, give us a shout-out as the front car may have missed it.The more eyes that are looking, means more birds seen!
Drivers: While gathering up to carpool, make sure the riders are amenable to your plans. This will be CHAS’ last trip where we have the opportunity to shop, dine, and bird on the first tunnel island. As of October 1, the island will be closed for construction on the new tunnel.
Bring plenty of liquids, snacks and sunscreen especially if the summer weather lingers. Remember, the Eastern Shore is notorious for ticks, chiggers, and mosquitos, so spray and dress accordingly!
SATURDAY, Oct. 14: BACK BAY NWR
Meeting time: 8:00 AM
We were rained-out on this field trip back in May, so we will give it a try again. Instead of breeding birds, the Refuge will be alive with fall migration and those coming to stay for the winter.
We will meet and begin our field trip at the Visitors Center. There are several trails – the Charles Kuralt Trail, the Bay Trail and a trail over the dunes to the beach - that will take us through scenic areas and diverse habitat. There should be ample birds of prey, shorebirds, marsh birds, as well as, loons, gannets and grebes to keep us busy. With luck and a warm day, we still might see a Cottonmouth sunning on the path or even spot a fox, deer or a wild hog. There can also be numerous dolphins close to shore which are always fun to watch.
Established in 1938 with 4,589 acres, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge now encompasses 9,250 acres which protects the watershed and habitat for wildlife. It is equally important that recent land acquisitions are buffering development and are reducing erosion and runoff of fertilizer and other chemicals. This protection has resulted in better water quality, which in-turn, is increasing the number of ducks and geese using the refuge.
The refuge staff and volunteers support a number of programs to include year-around bird surveys, Loggerhead Sea Turtle nest protection, wetlands management, environmental education, and more. For more information about Back Bay NWR see https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Back_Bay
To reach Back Bay NWR in southern Virginia Beach, follow Sandbridge Road to the oceanfront and turn right (south) onto Sandpiper Road. Follow it, about 4 miles, all the way to its end, just past Little Island Park. Turn left, enter the Refuge gate, and follow the paved road 1 mile to the Visitors Center. There is no entrance fee to the refuge if you arrive before 8:00 a.m. If you are late, a Duck Stamp or Senior Pass will cover the fee. There is an honor system if no attendant is at the gate.
Recent Field Trip Report
Seventeen individuals visited Craney Island on August 28th. While it was windy, the mosquito numbers were kept low and rain held off for the trip. We were guided by Army Corps personnel along the west side of Craney Island and viewed the impoundment cells from the west side. A good variety of shorebirds were observed (the main goal of the trip), with spotting scopes being very helpful to obtain decent views of these birds. A complete list is included below.
American Black Duck
Great Blue Heron
Field Trip Inclement Weather Policy
Since the Cape Henry Audubon Society outings have no scheduled rain dates, we try to conduct all of our field trips…rain or shine. For most weather conditions, this has worked well and will continue to be our goal. However, if on the night before a field trip, severe weather i.e. torrential rain, heavy snow, dangerous wind, flooding, etc. is forecast, and you have doubts about the trip being held, call 484-7398. If the field trip chair doesn’t answer, a recorded announcement will inform you of any changes or cancellations.