Yesterday afternoon I drove down to Kiptopeke, Virginia from State College to start my summer job with the Center for Conservation Biology. I have previously worked for the CCB capturing and tagging Whimbrel during the spring migration of 2010, and now this year I am back to work with the Whimbrels again! I will also be working with a wide assortment of other species including Peregrine Falcons, Black-bellied Plovers, and seabirds. Today I planned to head out and re-familiarize myself with the study site, Box Tree Marsh, during mid-falling to mid-rising tide which wasn’t until the afternoon. During the morning hours, I slowly wandered my way around the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR, where I am living for the summer (eBird checklist). The birding was fun but there were no migrant landbirds anywhere, although gulls and shorebirds were moving overhead in decent numbers. Quite a few southern species that aren’t nearly as numerous back up in State College were also fun to see, including Yellow-breasted Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Northern Bobwhite, and loads of Prairie Warblers.
The shorebirding around the channels of Box Tree Marsh during the afternoon was incredible (eBird checklist)! Short-billed Dowitchers and Dunlin were the most numerous but Whimbrel, Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, both subspecies of Willet, and Greater Yellowlegs were all present in good numbers. There were also smaller numbers of Spotted Sandpiper and Ruddy Turnstone. Perhaps the most exciting bird of the afternoon was a Red Knot, mixed with sleeping dowitchers.
I am eagerly awaiting more and more migrant landbirds and shorebirds to move through the Eastern Shore throughout the next few weeks and am equally as excited to get out into the marshes, working with Whimbrel other birds of Virginia’s coast. Check back for updates and photos over the course of the summer! In the meantime, below are a few photos I took today.