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Matth

Camp Avocet 2017 Trip Report

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Matth    514

Hello everyone! This is my trip report for Camp Avocet 2017. I went to Camp Colorado last year, and loved it, so this year I decided to try the other ABA camp. This year, the camp was from July 26th, to August 4th. Birding wise, this would be very different then CO as most of the birding is shorebirds, with a few landbirds and waterbirds mixed in. The camp is in Lewes, Delaware, at the Virden Center. It's pretty central to all the other spots we would go to, which is a lot! This camp is better then Camp Colorado for rarities, and that would be on all our minds as we traveled for the first day of camp.

The key will be pretty simplistic, bold for lifers and italics for yearbirds. I'm going to try and add some other basic things of camp in here, for anyone planning on coming to this camp. Of course, if there's any questions about Avocet, feel free to ask.

Now let's start!

Day One. July 29th, 2017.

The morning started with me heading to the airport for my flight. It was about a three and a half hour flight from Denver, so I left pretty early. I met up with another camper also heading to Avocet from Denver before heading onto the plane. The flight went fast, and suddenly we were on the ground, waiting for the van to pick us up. The Camp Avocet van came, and then we were heading on our way to Lewes. All the campers flying in gets picked up from the Philadelphia airport, which then is another two hours to the Virden Center. It's a long drive, but fortunately there was other people to talk to (Including crazed4birds) and the area was exciting for a western kid, and I had fun trying to id all the different species from the van. The best were a Chimney Swift flying over the road, and some Black Vultures, which were sitting on some light posts with Turkey Vultures.

About halfway to Lewes, we drove past a flooded field, which had tons of shorebirds in it. We immediately pulled over to check them out. Most of the shorebirds were Semipalmated Sandpipers, a species I don't see much in CO and definitely not in these numbers, which was easily in the hundreds. Also mixed in, were Semipalmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, about five Stilt Sandpipers and a few Black-bellied Plovers, including one who still had a black belly.

Semipalmated Plover.

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Lots of peeps (and a few dowitchers).

Semipalmated Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers

After we were done were done with that, we continued down to the Virden Center. MaxkewlBirder and the other campers were already there, and had checked in. While the first campers went up to their rooms, we got our name tags, itinerary for the week, and keys to our rooms. We also met up with our amazing leaders, Bill Stewart, Bill Schmoker, Joe Sebastiani, George Armistead, Holly Merker, and the intern, Noah Sanday. We then dropped our stuff off in our rooms, and headed down to dinner. This was different from the YMCA we stayed at Camp CO, as this was a lot more private. We got our own building to stay at, and the food was specifically made for the camp, instead of sharing it with hundreds of other camps at Camp Colorado. The food was super good, that night we had steak and mashed potatoes. We talked for a bit as we ate, and after the leaders talked to us about the plans for the week. A few presentations were made by the leaders before we went to our first birding spot of camp: Cape Henlopen State Park. The Point was the name of the location in the park, and its known for its beach shorebirds. Twenty minutes later, we arrived.

The first species were Royal Tern and Laughing Gull flying over the parking lot, and a Field Sparrow sang for a minute on a bush, my first lifer of the trip. We got down to the beach, where some of the beach is closed for nesting species. Setting up scopes, we were able to find many species in the closed off area. Sanderlings were incredibly common, and so were Ruddy Turnstones. Several Least Terns flew past, and lots of Semipalmated Plovers/Sandpipers fed along the shore, and mixed in were at least three Piping Plovers! Even better, a male came in pretty close (Within 10 feet), allowing for some great shots! Once that spectacle was over, we checked the species that were a little more distant. This included American Oystercatcher (which we would get better looks at later in the week), Great Black-backed Gull, more Royal Terns, a swimming male Black Scoter, and a Red Fox.

Piping Plover.

Piping Plover

Piping Plover, Sanderlings, and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Shorebirds

As we were leaving the refuge, we ran into a few Common Nighthawks soaring over the dunes. Strangely, they were chasing each other around, and called constantly. We thought it was either fledglings or rival birds, but we will probably never know.

We got back to the Virden Center, and set our alarms for early the next morning, pleased on how the day had gone.

Day Two next!

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Matth    514

Day Two, July 30th.

Me and my two other roommates got up bright and early at 6:00 that morning. This gave us about thirty minutes to get dressed and showered before heading down to a courtyard between the two building that we were staying at. This is where we waited for everyone to be ready before heading to breakfast at 6:45. Once we finished our meal (eggs and waffles, I believe) we went back to our rooms, and got our birding gear. We then began the hour long drive to Bombay Hook NWR.

Bombay Hook has lots of different habitats, including freshwater marsh, salt marsh, and forest. Because of this, this day usually gets the highest daily species count of camp. This also is where several rarities have been hanging out over the past month, and the hope was to find some of them.

The drive was uneventful. There was some nice habitat that we passed, but nothing was seen in them. We were almost to the refuge, and were just about to pass a flooded field (the same field we stopped at yesterday, in fact) when a cry went up.

"UPLAND SANDPIPER!"

We immediately got out, and set up the scopes. Sure enough, an Upland Sandpiper was feeding near some old farming equipment. This species is rare in Delaware (though they had one last year as well) and very unexpected. This has been a good year for them around the country, and both sessions of Camp Colorado this year got them as well. Still, this was a very fun find.

Upland Sandpiper! (Distant)

After we watched this strange looking shorebird forage for a while, we started scanning the other species. Most of the peeps from the day before were gone, but a few Western Sandpipers were picked out, as were some more Stilt Sandpipers. Checking out a more dry field on the other side of the road, I found a soaring juvie Bald Eagle, a singing male Indigo Bunting, and a calling crow flew past, proclaiming it as a Fish Crow. Some people even heard a Grasshopper Sparrow singing, though I didn't hear it.

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38406235

After that, we drove to the Visitor Center of the NWR. This is mostly a restroom stop, but we also did some birding nearby, checking out the eastern landbirds that were in the area. The most prominent species here was Purple Martins. There's several nesting boxes for this species, and their was a good seventy martins, flying around, feeding young, and calling.

Purple Martins

 

Purple Martin Fledglings

Nearby, in some ornament trees and bushes, a Brown Thrasher popped up, as did a Red-eyed Vireo, though it came out only briefly. A few Ruby-throated Hummingbirds buzzed about, and an Eastern Wood-Pewee flycatched from a post. Field Sparrows called off in the distance, and an Indigo Bunting was seen as it sang high up in some trees.

Eastern Wood-Pewee

 

Bombay Hook NWR (Behind the Visitor Center)

We then hopped into the vans, and drove further into the refuge. At first, it was more fields and bushy understory. A Blue Grosbeak came into view, and one of the leaders heard a Swamp Sparrow singing in a marshy pond. After a few minutes of that habitat, we arrived at a large freshwater pond on one side, and a salt marsh on the other. Supposedly, the freshwater pond is great for shorebirds at this time of year, but the recent rains meant it was flooded. That didn't mean it wasn't birdy; it was quite the opposite! Lots of Snowy Egrets milled about, as did both species of yellowlegs. Tree, Bank, and Barn Swallows were picked out in a large martin flock, and another Bald Eagle made a pass overhead. A large flock of American Avocets was also a highlight, and a pair of Cattle Egrets came slowly into view before flying off. 

On the saltwater side, it wasn't as birdy, but it was still interesting. Several Forster's Terns flew past, and a Clapper Rail came out onto a muddy bank. It even bathed in front of the whole group!

Clapper Rail

After that, we went down a bit further, to another pair of marshes. Here, in the freshwater, a few Mute Swans were seen (an exotic to the area, yay) and a flock of waterfowl was seen, which included Green-winged Teal, Wood Duck, Mallard, and a few American Black Ducks. A Black-necked Stilt came around for good looks (uncommon but increasing breeder in Delaware), and some people even saw a few Bobolinks.

Black-necked Stilt

In the saltwater, we found a Diamondback Terrapin, (a turtle) a Green Heron, a few species of gulls including Lesser Black-backed Gull, and a Dunlin on a small mudflat, which was nice to see, since they're a little tricky to find at this camp.

IMG_2598

We then went a down the road, and found a good mudflat with many shorebirds. Here, we did a workshop (which were split depending on your skill level) about shorebird ID. The shorebirds here was mostly Short-billed Dowitchers and Semipalmated Sandpipers, though it was still nice to study these species. A Marsh Wren came in to view to shake things up, and five Glossy Ibis were seen incredibly far, almost too distant to ID even with a scope.

Marsh Wren

We then turned back toward the Visitor Center for lunch. Before we got there, however, the drivers of my van (George and Joe) stopped at a field. After a second, we heard a Grasshopper Sparrow singing it's insect-like song, the purpose of the stop. Even better, a Northern Bobwhite was heard in the distance, something I thought we would dip on. We never saw it, sadly, but it was hot out, and I'm glad we got one at all, even if it was heard only. We then went to the center and had sandwiches (which would become the main lunch of camp). The heat made so that not much was out, but a Willow Flycatcher was nice to see. Afterword, we headed back into the refuge, and this time, went further then earlier, and where a very interesting bird was hanging out...

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Matth    514

At first, the birding didn't seen as good as earlier. For one thing, the it was high tide now, and most of the shoreline in the salt marshes were underwater. It was also at the heat of the day, which made everything a lot quieter. We were able to find some more Willow Flycatchers, however, and Forster's Terns were easy to spot as they hovered over the marshes. 

Eventually, we found a freshwater marsh with lots of herons and terns. We stopped and took out the scopes. More Semipalmated Sandpipers and dowitchers were found, and a few Killdeer chicks were found near a marshy puddle, though no adults were seen. A Glossy Ibis made a close flyby before landing in the shallow marsh water, a nice treat.

Killdeer chick

 

Glossy Ibis

After that, we got prepared to leave this spot, as here wasn't showing too much potential. But just then, Joe Sebastiani said, "I have an interesting egret here."

We all set the scopes on the bird. It looked like a Snowy Egret, but it was a bit bigger, had a slightly thicker and longer bill, and most obvious of all, gray lores (skin between the eyes) instead of the yellow skin on the Snowy Egret. All this together meant we had a very good bird, a Little Egret! This Eurasian species has been at this spot since June, but now it had lost the head plumes that one would normally use to tell the two egret species apart. Fortunately, we had very good looks at the bird, and many very good birders to confirm the ID. After several rounds of high-fiving and hand-shakes, we got got back into the van. After that, the birding really did slow, and after not seeing much more of interest, we headed along back to the Virden Center.

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38406241

That wasn't the end of our birding though. We still had a few hours before dinner started, so naturally we went to another spot on the way back: Big Stone Beach Road. This road went through some pine and deciduous woods, which is a good mix for landbirds. The main target was the Brown-headed Nuthatch, as this is one of the most northernly spot for this species on the planet. After getting out, I heard a few Eastern Towhees and a Great-crested Flycatcher singing. A female Northern Cardinal flew across the road, a few Carolina Chickadees came into view, and three Brown-headed Nuthatches came out to a mobbing tape. Checking out some dead trees along the road, a Red-bellied Woodpecker was seen, as was an adult Red-headed Woodpecker. The Red-headed I only saw flying away (other people got better looks then I), but there was no mistaking those bright wing patches. A Yellow-throated Warbler and a Pine Warbler were also seen, but I never got a look at either species (though both would have been lifers <_<). Even with those misses, it still was an enjoyable stop.

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Lifer!)

 

Big Stone Beach Road (DE)

We then had dinner at the Virden Center, and afterwords we had a choice to stay at the center, or go back to Cape Henlopen SP (the same spot as yesterday). I did the beach, and we didn't see anything too rare, but we did see a Northern Mockingbird, an Eastern Kingbird mobbing a Copper's Hawk in the dunes, and several Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which, by the way, I never knew they stayed year round here.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

The shot below I like because you can really see the difference between the Great Black-backed on the left, and the Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the right.

Great Black-backed Gull (left) and Lesser Black-backed (right)

We then headed back to our rooms, and after all the activities from earlier, I fell asleep particularly fast that night.

Day three next!

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Matth    514

Day three, July 31st

This morning we got up a bit earlier then the previous one, and I had a little time to bird while waiting for the others to show up for breakfast. Even though I didn't have any optics on me, I got a White-eyed Vireo singing in a tree, and a few flocks of juvenile White Ibis, which are rabidly increasing in the Delaware Bay (they were rare not that long ago).

After our meal was finished, we headed to Prime Hook NWR. This spot is much closer to the Virden Center then Bombay Hook, and before I even was done putting on sunscreen, we were there. Prime Hook has much more salt marsh then Bombay Hook, and has some great habitat for shorebirds... Usually. Because of the recent rains, just as with Bombay Hook, the water was much higher then normal, leaving only a few narrow strips of sand for the shorebirds. We stopped on a curb to scan the water for any interesting waders. Apparently, the terns didn't mind the flooding, as we had some great looks at Forster's and Least Terns fishing and feeding young, and a Caspian Tern joined them for minute. Ospreys were abundant, perching on the dead trees out on the shoreline (the trees had drowned from the ocean rising higher then normal, and clogging the roots with salt). We were able to pull out a few Black Skimmers in a Laughing Gull flock, and more were spotted on a distant island. 

Black Skimmer and Laughing Gulls

 

Once we found everything that there was to see at that spot, we decided go to a beach along the ocean, which was just a little walk down the road. We only walked for a minute when a juvenile Seaside Sparrow was spotted sitting in a clump of marsh grass only a few feet from the road. It was very comfortable with us being there, which was nice as it was lifer for a good chunk of the group (and it was Maxkewlbirder's 500th lifer. Congrats, Max!) We watched this sparrow and even put the scope on it until it dove into cover.

Seaside Sparrow!

After that, we had to walk through a very small town, and it was very quiet. People-wise at least, as there was a bunch of Purple Martins and Chimney Swifts overhead, and I spotted a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on a telephone wire. This bird most likely was a migrant that just crossed the Delaware Bay, as the habitat was very strange for one otherwise.

We then went down to the beach. Before we even arrived, I could hear the chatter of sandpipers. We stopped in awe, as we watched hundreds of shorebirds feeding along the ocean edge and all the way up into the high tide line, often taking flight and twirling in the air like sardines. It was pretty insane. The crazier thing is that this wasn't even close to the numbers of sandpipers that come in May to feed on horseshoe crab eggs. Most were Semipalmated Sandpipers and Sanderlings, but a fair number of turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, and Semipalmated Plovers were amongst them. After we had set up our gear to watch the birds, one large group of Semi Sandpipers took flight and flew past us. Noah, the intern, then said "White-rumped Sandpiper!" Sure enough, a White-rumped Sandpiper, flew in, and preceded to feed right in front of us. This is a uncommon species at Avocet, and they don't always get them, so this was an great addition.

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486950

After we had our fill of shorebirds, we headed back to the vans. We also ran into wildlife artist and birder Richard Clifton. We didn't meet him by chance, though, as we were heading to his 115 acre farm not far from Prime Hook! This the first time that Camp Avocet has went to his property, and would be a fun experience for us to try. We arrived there at around 9:30, and after hydrating and putting on more bug spray and sunscreen, we headed to the east end of the farm. This area was a mix of fields and thickets, and although we had nothing new for the trip list, it was still fun. The best included a Red-beilled Woodpecker with a very late brood in a dead tree, a Spotted Sandpiper in a pond, a male Blue Grosbeak, and a family of Great-crested Flycatchers, which was my first time actually seeing this species.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Afterwords, we stopped back at the vans for snacks, and headed to the west side of the farm. This side had a large swampy forest, very different from the east side. We had to walk about a quarter-mile to get there. No birds were really out by this point (except for the common eastern species) but the other fauna kept me entertained. Me, crazed4birds, and a few leaders and campers hung on back to watch the insects. We found Eastern Pondhawks, a Polyphemus Moth, Southern Leopard Frog, Monarch Butterflies, a Spring Azure that we watched in a scope, and Velvet Ants were just some of the thing that we found. One kid, whose name was Ben, actually found a Native American arrowhead in a cornfield!

Monarch Butterfly

 

Velvet Ant

 

Southern Leopard Frog

Once we got to the forest, it immediately became cooler. I was excited, as there is no habitat like this out west. The trees were very tall which made bird spotting hard, the ground was very wet from the rains, and the insects were deafening, but I still loved it. Already, a Tufted Titmouse was singing very loudly overhead, though it wouldn't show itself. Another Red-eyed Vireo came down from the treetops for some photos, and we had some... well, not great looks, but mediocre looks at a Acadian Flycatcher calling and flycatching. Only a bit further down, we found a few fledgeling Acadians, which were a bit easier to see then the adult. We also heard a distant Yellow-billed Cuckoo call a few times, which I thought we would miss for the camp.

Fledgling Acadian Flycatcher

 

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Matth    514

We then got back to the main part of the farm, nothing else notable was seen. It was hot out, so we ate lunch in Richard Clifton's art studio. Let me just say, Richard is an amazing painter. All his paintings are very lifelike, and it's no surprise that he's painted the duck stamp of the year before. He then told his story of becoming a painter while we ate our boxed sandwiches and chips. It was very cool, and I hope Avocet continues to come back to here over the next few years, as this was a great experience for everyone.

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486947

The next location was a road stop. The road went through salt marsh, and we looked for Seaside Sparrows and for the slight possibility of Saltmash Sparrow. Needless to say, we got two bad looks at Seaside Sparrows, and a lot of Fiddler Crabs and Seaside Dragonets (a dragonfly). When we couldn't stand the bugs any longer, we drove to the end of the road, where the DuPont Nature Center was located. This is the best spot in the world to see Red Knots in the spring, and we saw the famous "World's largest Red Knot" which is, spoiler alert, a statue. Scanning the harbor, we uncovered a pair of American Oystercatchers, and another Caspian Tern, but no Red Knots today. We also got some great photo ops of gulls and terns perched on some wooden posts. Bill Stewart then talked about the importance of this spot, as this is where thousands of horseshoe crabs lay their eggs, which the knots then eat. He also started the Delaware Birdathon, which is a fundraiser event for the shorebirds. It was really quite interesting. 

Royal Tern.

Royal Tern

Ring-billed Gull.

Ring-billed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull.

Great Black-backed Gull

Halfway though Bill's talk, George Armistead, who was scanning the harbor, said calmly, "Sorry to interrupt, but there's a strange gull flying out in the harbor." Everyone started taking shots at a small gull flying way out over a jetty, too small for any of the regularly occurring species. The gull in question flew to the north and out of sight. We checked the photos. It turned out to be a Little Gull! This was almost more unexpected then the Little Egret, as the Little Gull that was up at Bombay Hook hadn't been seen in a few weeks. We were all very happy (and we also learned on how to interrupt a talk when you have a rare bird :P). It actually wasn't a lifer, I saw one in Colorado last year, but this was still very exciting.

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486942

We went back to the Virden Center after that. We had a few hours of free time this afternoon, so I walked around the Virden Center to see what I could find. A White-eyed Vireo was nice to see, even if it didn't want me to take any photos of it. I also did some frisbee with the other campers until dinner. Once we finished eating our meal, Holly gave us a talk about the spot we were going to the next day, before we headed out for evening birding.

The first stop we did was the Lewes Ferry terminal. Here, a few rarities had been seen, and lots birds often came to the jetty there to roost. Once we arrived, we found two different pairs of incredibly close Black Scoters. They were preening literally just a few feet from the shoreline, and one female even crawled onto the shore. A Tricolored Heron was a good pickup, though it was a very distant flyby. These are rare here, though just a little south of here they are easy. Lots of Snowy Egrets and one Little Blue Heron flew overhead toward the jetties to roost for the night. Best of all, a continuing Brant was found grazing algae off of sea rocks. It might have been injured, as they should be still up north at this time, but it seemed to be happy here.

Little Blue Heron (right) and Snowy Egret

 

Black Scoters

 

Black Scoter male

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486952

We had one other spot planned for sunset. As we had been seen lots of White Ibis overhead a the Virden Center in the morning, we decided to try to find where they roost. The leaders already had one pond in mind. We got there just before sunset, and the few bare trees hanging over the pond was filled with Great Egrets. A few Snowy Egrets, Black-crowned Night-herons, and Green Herons were mixed in. We waited a bit to see if any ibis would show up. Chimney Swifts and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flew past, and a Carolina Wren was heard and seen singing. Glossy Ibis came to the roost after a bit, but no White. Eventually, a few distant White Ibis was found, but were not heading to the roost. Oh, well. the mystery would have to continue for another day.

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486955

Altogether, it was good day. We headed to bed early that night, as tomorrow we were leaving very early to our next location: Chincoteague NWR. 

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Matth    514

Day four, August 1st.

This morning, breakfast was at 5:45 AM and I actually got up even earlier then that for some birding around the Virden Center with the leaders (where we saw lots of egrets, blackbirds, and ibis flying from their roost). The reason for the early waking hours were because we were going down to Chincoteague NWR in Virginia! It would take a two hour drive to get there, so leaving by 6:30 was a must. The actual drive was very unevenful, and no interesting things were spotted, not until we almost arrived to the refuge.

As you drive in, you pass over the Chincoteague Bay, where there is tons of salt marshes. Here, we begin seeing waders flying overhead and hunting in the bay. Even though we didn't get any new trip birds yet, the birds were still interesting. Tricolored Herons, Boat-tailed Grackles (which I missed seeing them yesterday, though some campers did), Black-necked Stilts, and dozens of White Ibis, mostly adults this time. We parked along a side road leading off of the highway. The road overlooked a mussel bed (put there by humans, but still) and we got our best looks of American Oystercatchers so far for the trip. Another abundant bird was Common Terns, as this was preferred habitat for them. Other good birds include Willet (a first for the trip), a Whimbrel on a distant mud bank, Caspian Terns, and a Clapper rail calling in some reeds.

Mussel beds at Chincoteague NWR

White Ibis.

White Ibis

American Oystercatcher.

American Oystercatcher

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486962

After that, we drove through a small town for a bit before arriving into the refuge. Pine forest surrounded the road, which looked perfect for Pine Warbler and Brown-headed Nuthatch (and a few kids saw a Yellow-billed cuckoo fly over the road), but sadly we never stopped here. After a bit, we came into a clearing, and loads of cars were stopped on the side of the road, everyone taking pictures at something -- and no, it wasn't a bird. It was some "wild" Chincoteague Ponies. No one knows how these feral ponies got to here and the surrounding islands, but they are a popular tourist attraction. We stopped for a minute to watch the horses before moving on.

Chincoteague Ponies

 

Chincoteague Ponies

Only a few minutes later, we stopped again. This time for a Common Loon, who was floating in a inlet just off the road.

Common Loon

 

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Matth    514

After that, we got to our first planned stop, called Tom's Cove. Here, there was a nice inlet for shorebirds and terns, as well as the ocean just on the other side of the parking lot. While we battled the bugs (as this was actually our first bad day with biting insects, we didn't get very many over the last few days for whatever reason) we scanned a distant spit full of terns. Most were Royal and Common, but a Sandwich Tern was picked out. This was one of our target species for the day, and even from a distance I could see the distinctive black beak with a yellow tip. A Piping Plover was also spotted a little closer along the shore.

We then checked out the ocean side. Like Cape Henlopen, this had a roped off section of the beach, and many shorebirds were feeding in the sand. Most were Sanderlings, but once again, a Piping Plover was spotted. This individual approached fairly close, and we watched as it interacted with a Semipalmated Plover. One of my fellow campers got an amazing shot of the Semi chasing the Piping. A Brown Pelican flew past just offshore, and further down the beach, we found more Willet, Black-bellied Plovers, and five Red Knots, a few still having the red coloration the species is named after. Surprisingly, we found another Piping Plover on the public side of the beach. Even crazier, it was incredibly tame, letting us take some amazing shots as it foraged.

Piping Plover

 

Piping Plover

This nearby Sanderling also posed for photos.

Sanderling and Piping Plover

After several minutes of watching it, a beachgoer walked a little too close and the plover flew off, back to it's side of the beach. After that amazing display, not much else was out. A Sandwich Tern that flew over the beach was nice, and I spent some time photographing the Laughing Gulls, a species you don't really see out west.

Laughing Gull

 

Laughing Gull

We checked out one other small inlet not far from the beach before lunch. We didn't really see anything new, but we did see another Sandwich Tern and a Little Blue Heron. 

Lunch was at a nature center/gift shop place in the pine forest. We rented out a classroom here, where we ate lunch. Bill Stewart also talked about the Big Green Hour, a Camp Avocet competition that we would do on the last day. We then had about twenty minutes to roam the center and gift shop before we did the wildlife loop of the park. This road went around several ponds and marshes, so we decided to try our luck on them.

We found a nice tallgrass field filled with egrets after just a few minutes of driving. Mostly Great Egrets, but some Cattle Egrets were mixed in. A large swallow flock was also swooping around, and the leaders somehow pulled out a Cliff Swallow amongst them. This is a declining species out east, which is interesting as they are around practically every underpass in Colorado. The leaders were very excited to see it, and we got nice looks as it came overhead. After it swooped off, we hopped back into the vans. A Delmarva Fox Squirrel was found further down the road. This is an endangered subspecies of the Eastern Fox Squirrel, and is only really found along this section of coast. It ran off before I could get a shot, sadly, but still got a identifiable look at this huge squirrel.

We got to our last Chincoteague location at the end of the road. It was a small marshy pond, that wouldn't seem to have much potential, except for the large numbers of shorebirds running in the mud. We got a pretty good species list here, with Black-necked Stilts, Glossy Ibis, many Least Sandpipers, two Tricolored Herons, Western Sandpipers, Least Terns, and a Eastern Meadowlark singing on a clump of grass in the field behind us.

 Glossy Ibis.

Glossy Ibis (left bird with aberrant white feathers on the head)

Tricolored Heron.

Tricolored Heron

Here's the list for the NWR: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486957

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Matth    514

We then began the long trip back to the Virden Center. The first 90 minutes was quiet, up until we drove in town I didn't recognize from earlier. The van then parked in a suburban block. I was very confused -- until the leaders explained the reason behind the stop. Apparently, there is a species that lives here, that you can't get anywhere else in Delaware. It's a rare, colorful, interesting, definitely native... Eurasian Collared-Dove. Okay, I lied about most of those adjectives. But these really are rare here, and this would actually be a camp first. We did a small loop around the block, and we were able to find a pair sitting in a tree along an alley, and one other was heard. Success, I guess?

Eurasian Collared-Doves

https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38486960

After getting back to Virden Center, we were able to have some downtime before dinner. Bill Stewart had set up a hummingbird feeder outside of the dorms on the first day, and I went out to try to get some hummer shots. A few came around, and one female was particularly photogenic as she drank from the feeder.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

We then had dinner, and afterwards Bill Schmoker did a really cool talk about going to the north pole for a research trip. Once that was over, we had a few evening activities. The curfew was set later then usual (more like ten o'clock instead of nine) so we could either do mothing or owling. I decided to try the moths and hope we heard an owl. I did not hear any (though the owling group did get one heard only Screech Owl) but did see lots of cool insects, such as katydids, click beetles, and of course, moths!

Some sort of katydid.

Katydid sp

Various moth species. That brown stuff is a mothing mixture used to attract them in.

Assorted moths

We then headed off for bed, thus ending day four.

Day five next!

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