September 17, 2012

A Trip to the Shore

By Amy Yeakel, Education Program Director

In August I travelled to Virginia’s Eastern Shore for a professional conference. The Association of Nature Center Adminstrators Annual Summit is always a wonderful opportunity to network with colleagues but in this case a chance to visit natural communities I don’t see every day. Early morning trips to the beach showed calm and peaceful scenes on certain days, contrasted by riptides and angry seas as storms rolled in on others. On a six a.m. bird walk, with some experienced birders, I was struck by the dense foliage of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and how it looked almost tropical compared to the northern New England Forests I am used to. What a different world I was exploring only a day’s drive south of my usual haunts. The wonderful birder I was with was disappointed in the day’s sightings. “Not as birdy as we expected.” he murmured, although, I must say I was impressed. We walked along a path for a bit noting forest birds but also noticing we were being eaten alive by bird-sized mosquitoes! So, off to drive through the wetland and along the beach. We saw so many Great Blue Herons that they seemed commonplace and Egrets abounded as well. A Tri-colored Heron was a special treat for me with dusty rose plumage on its back. Pipers and plovers zipped about, always busy. Many gulls dotted the scene as well but a good view of both a young and adult Rail was unexpected. An Osprey swooped low as we departed and cormorants dotted the pylons. And there, made famous by Misty, was a sizeable herd of Chincoteague’s wild ponies. A brief early morning excursion as a precursor to the day’s busy conference activities served as a wonderful peak at some things I don’t get to see every day!

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