My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge [Day 1]

Chincoteague NWR

I arrived in Chincoteague late last evening around 11pm and it had been raining cats-and-dogs the whole trip. I quickly jumped into bed after a quick phone call to Patty, anticipating what Day 1 would be like! In the morning I woke up and opened the patio door . . . . . within minutes I heard this raspy crow call and instantly said “FISH CROW”!!! CHECK . . this was my first lifer of the day! I always wondered what these guys sounded like!

Fish Crow
You identify Fish Crows by voice not by sight!

I quickly ran down and gobble up some breakfast before heading out to the Refuge! Now from this point on . . . . remember I live inland and we don’t get to see many shorebirds in my neck of the woods! Anyways struggling to identify brown peeps and I come across these Marble Godwits . . . WHAT . . . CHECK! Another lifer and a good one to boot!

Marbled Godwit
A good number of Marble Godwits were around!

I decided to spend the rest of the morning along the Wildlife Circle and ran into some Bird Banding friends from the conference. We hugged, chatted and decided to do some birding together to look for the Brown-headed Nuthatch! Yep we found it right were it was anticipated in being CHECK . . . another lifer!

Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch looking down at us!

Now, I kept seeing these grackles and I said to myself . . . something isn’t right with these guys! They are too big and too glossy! I reached for my field guide as soon as I returned to my vehicle . . . . yep, what I had been seeing most of the day was the Boat-tailed Grackle!! CHECK . . . another unexpected lifer!

Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle smiling for the camera!

From breakfast I kept hearing about these Oystercatchers out near Tom’s Cove but you think I could find them early in the morning. . . heck no! I returned to the area towards the end of the day and sure enough . . . . American Oystercatchers, this was a big CHECK lifer that I have been after for many years! CHEERS!

American Oystercatcher
Two American Oystercatchers

Considering this is my 3rd or maybe 4th time ever visiting the ocean . . . I figured it was important to head down to collect a shell or two for someone special. But the highlight of the Ocean visit was this Willet that really was performing for me as the waves were crashing down on the beach. I really need to double check my life list on this bird but I am 75% sure that this Willet would be a lifer for me! Anyways, I can still say CHECK (if a year bird or maybe a lifer)!

The Willet on the beach

Ok, I am off to my Eastern Bird Banding Association Dinner in the next half hour but I did want to write a quick post from this amazing day! Note that I am only reporting my lifers in this post . . . . I have many other great pictures, year birds and other stories to blog about when I return home (did I not mention wild ponies . . .?? )! I should have something else exciting to blog about tomorrow . . . . I plan on going to the guided walk tomorrow morning to learn about the many other great lifers that I couldn’t identify today!

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29 responses

  1. Godwits are so cool.


    27 March 2009 at 6:04 pm

  2. Now THAT is a good bird day =) We’ve always wanted to see Chincoteague — that’s where the horses are, right? It sounds like when we do make our trip, we’ll be in for some great birding as well. Thanks for all the great pictures! The fish crow pic made us laugh — we have quite a few pictures of birds, bugs, and mammals that look very similar to the one you posted, because sometimes nature just won’t sit still.

    27 March 2009 at 7:19 pm

  3. Not too shabby. I love it when things come together like that. I was along the Jersey shore last weekend. Saw some Oystercatchers, Sanderlings and Plovers. But no Godwits, Willets, etc. up this way just yet. You managed some very nice photos to boot!

    27 March 2009 at 7:50 pm

  4. Congratulations! what an amazing day!

    27 March 2009 at 8:05 pm

  5. The nuthatch is a great lifer! I was lucky enough to get a great picture of one when I was down in Deleware a few years ago.

    27 March 2009 at 8:32 pm

  6. I love Chincoteague. Have a wonderful time!

    27 March 2009 at 8:41 pm

  7. Congrats!

    27 March 2009 at 9:44 pm

  8. Nancy

    Can’t wait to hear and see more of your adventures on Chincoteague. Enjoy!

    27 March 2009 at 10:06 pm

  9. Awesome!!!
    Did you, by any chance, ever read “Misty of Chincoteague”? Being a dude, probably not.

    27 March 2009 at 10:12 pm

  10. Chincoteague is one of my favorite places to spend time, my family has been visiting annually for nearly 40 years (lessee, I was about 4 when we first went – I grew up reading Misty of Chincoteague and the subsequent books). After reading your post I’m eagerly awaiting our next trip, hopefully this spring, but more likely summer.

    Thanks for a glimpse of the refuge in spring, glad your having such a great trip!

    27 March 2009 at 10:43 pm

  11. @ Iheartfilm – they are for sure but not the EZiest to ID!
    @ Kenton and Rebecca – I know right . . . you must come down to visit this spot! I keep calling them horses but they are really ponies (so they say)! I will have a post just on the ponies, I promise! I knew this photo was of a fish crow . . although it wasn’t the best picture! I did get one of another crow but because it didn’t vocalize, I wasn’t sure if it was the American or Fish (so it never got published)!
    @ edvatza – Thanks and sounds like a great weekend without the Willets!
    @ Threecollie – Thanks
    @ Shannon – Sure was . . maybe I can get a better photo tomorrow!
    @ NCmountainwoman – Thanks and it is a great place!
    @ Patrick – thanks
    @ Nancy – should have a bunch of photos to include soon! Hope tomorrows weather is as good as it was today!
    @ Susan – this dude is proud to say that I didn’t read it! Although its all I have heard about the past few days that I have been here! Maybe I should read the cliff notes!
    @ Noflickster – I can see why your family would visit here! Thanks and glad you enjoyed!

    27 March 2009 at 11:02 pm

  12. Grace

    The brown-headed nuthatch and the fish crow would be lifers for me too. I worked at Parker River NWR in Massachusetts for while. My favorite lifer, found while I worked there, was the Dovekie.

    27 March 2009 at 11:21 pm

  13. Hi Tom, I remember when you were here last year for the conference. Awesome life list you got going here. Now I need to look up where you are. 🙂

    27 March 2009 at 11:32 pm

  14. Congrats on all of the lifers! You know I love those brown headed nuthatches. 🙂

    28 March 2009 at 1:25 am

  15. Oh, my, what awesome birds! That is another National Wildlife Refuge I’d really love to visit someday. And the ponies….!!! I love ponies!

    28 March 2009 at 2:16 am

  16. Lisa at Greenbow

    Whooo hooooo so many lifers. Good for you Mon@rch. I can’t wait to see all your pictures and read all about your trip. Those godwits are great. Don’t you just love to hear Fish Crows? Can’t wait to hear about the wild ponies too. I have read about them before but have never seen them.

    28 March 2009 at 7:17 am

  17. Wow, so many lifers in one day! How very cool to see so many birds you’ve never seen. Looking forward to photos from your guided walk.

    28 March 2009 at 8:24 am

  18. Excellent – congratulations on your numerous lifers, and good luck w/the rest of those shorebirds – they’re a tricky lot to ID for certain!

    28 March 2009 at 10:56 am

  19. Way cool! So many lifers! Did you see any ponies? That’s what I remember about visiting Chincoteague. Before I was a birder. Can you imagine how jealous I am that you saw a Fish Crow? And, knowing that I probably saw when back before I was a birder . . . sigh.

    28 March 2009 at 1:47 pm

  20. Hi Monarch – Welcome to Virginia. Chincoteague is a great place to visit and there are a ton of birds and wildlife. My husband and I try to sneak off every other year or so for a weekend. There are some great bed and breakfasts there to stay at. Last time we stayed at the Hampton Inn and that was just fine too.
    Congrats on the lifers. We have many brown headed Nuthatches in my yard so I guess I should be honored. 🙂
    Let us know if you see any Delmarva Fox Squirrels. Have a good time!

    28 March 2009 at 3:49 pm

  21. Oh, I am so jealous! When I saw you were posting from Chincoteague I came over right away! It is on my list of places I really want to visit before I die. I have been a fan of the Misty books since childhood. I hope you do post pics of the ponies. Congrats on all the lifers!

    28 March 2009 at 8:51 pm

  22. Marg

    Congrats Tom! It was great seeing you and what a great collection you have added to your lists!

    28 March 2009 at 11:43 pm

  23. You are going to have to explain the wild ponies…

    29 March 2009 at 12:13 am

  24. I enjoyed your pictures on Flickr, but it is so much better to read about them too.

    29 March 2009 at 6:48 pm

  25. Not a bad day at all – I didn’t realize that the brown-headed nuthatches came up that far north. Nice pictures!

    29 March 2009 at 7:11 pm

  26. You had a great bird day – now – where are the ponies?

    29 March 2009 at 8:18 pm

  27. I’m glad to hear you’re having a good time and checking off all these lifers Mon@rch. Thanks for sharing all those nice pictures with us.

    29 March 2009 at 11:04 pm

  28. Pam

    Wow, what a fantastic day, Tom!! Congrats on all of the lifers!!

    30 March 2009 at 7:41 am

  29. Glad you’re have a great time. Too bad your Oystercatchers had each lost a leg! 🙂

    30 March 2009 at 3:47 pm

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