Sunday, July 27, 2014

Unusual Chincoteague Sightings

This weekend I had to make a short trip up to Philadelphia. I left there early Sunday morning and had time to stop by Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. For late July, there was a lot going on there; and I don't just mean the crowds looking for ponies. This coming week is the annual pony swim and I guess the crowds are starting early.
But anyways, the birding was good too. Since it wasn't planned as a birding trip, I didn't have the spotting scope with me; but, I did have my camera and binoculars. So many of the birds were just too far out of reach. I concentrated on getting pictures of those kind enough to be close to the edges.
In the second pool on the north side of Beach Access Road I saw a dark ibis in the distance. Glossy ibis wouldn't be unusual this time of year. So that's what I thought. But I took a picture anyways just to document the sighting. Well, when I got home I saw an email on the va-bird listserv that a white-faced ibis was being seen at Chincoteague and it was the only dark ibis that that group had seen today. So I pull up my picture and what do you know? A white-faced ibis.
The image isn't that good but you can definitely see the white on the face.

I had also stopped at the Tom's Cove visitor center. I was going to go in and see if anything unusual had been reported and look around but I scanned the birds on the exposed flats first. And I'm glad I did. In among a lot of common terns and black skimmer was this smaller, all dark bird. A little study and a photo confirmed it was a black tern.
 Again, not a pretty picture but definite proof. I could see a photographer behind these birds next to one of the beach parking lots (P-1). So I skipped the visitor's center and drove around to the beach hoping to get a better photograph. I was definitely closer but I couldn't find the black tern again. Most of the rest of the terns were still there so just bad luck this guy flew. The other photographer had also seen it but then was focused on a bird much further out (he had a much larger lens).
There will be more to come from this trip as I got some good photographs of egrets and the black skimmers skimming. But I wanted to get these out while they were hot.