Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kiptopeke Challenge

Ah yes, the Kiptopeke Challenge.  As has been the case the last few years, the day has started with an Eastern Screech-Owl at the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR.  And as has also become the norm, we didn't follow that success with a Great Horned Owl although there are many of them around.  As it got lighter and the wind picked up, it was apparent that today was going to be an uphill battle to get landbirds.  The usual spots turned up no activity, no chips or tweets, and indeed a struggle it was.  But at Ramp Lane on the refuge we encountered about 250 Sandwich Terns with a few Royal Terns mixed in moving past in the predawn light.  This is by far the largest group of Sandwich Terns I've seen away from the breeding area on Wreck Island.  Overhead there were a few Sharp-shinned Hawks hunting and the sought-after White Ibis made their appearance.  A nearby perched and singing Marsh Wren was a bonus.  At GATR tract we actually encountered a few nice landbirds including a Summer Tanager, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and the gem-of-the-day, a Golden-winged Warbler, a bird we have actually gotten once before during a previous Challenge at Chincoteague NWR.  When we reached Kiptopeke SP, we saw friends Bob Anderson, Harry Armistead, and Zach Poulton who were participating in the Challenge while they manned the hawk platform.  At Oyster we caught the high tide, but still found a nice bunch of Greater Yellowlegs and an Eastern Meadowlark and some Savannah Sparrows on the shore.  The dump had a few Pied-billed Grebes, many Fish Crows, both night-herons, and our first Little Blue Herons, plus a lone American Black Duck.  Eyre Hall was quiet but we rousted out a Black-and-white Warbler plus Harry and Downy Woodpeckers.  Then it was on to Chincoteague with a not-so-brief stop at the Coffee House on the way.  There was open admission to get into Chincoteague, so the place was a bit crowded especially the beach.  The wildlife drive had a nice scattering of shorebirds including Pectoral and White-rumped Sandpipers and a few ducks.  A Peregrine kept the birds a bit on the jittery side.  At that point I left David Clark and Andrew Baldelli (photo including David's new Prius) to drive back to Norfolk so I could attend the performance of the Virginia Symphony.  I just couldn't stand to miss another concert this year.  I managed to make it to the performance and enjoyed it immensely.  David and Andrew persisted after I left and got quite a few more birds for the day including a couple Buff-breasted Sandpipers and a few warblers along the pony trail.  Our final total for the day was 111, symptomatic of the heat and southwest wind.  Maybe next year without the distraction of a Big Year, we can put our collective minds together, plan a good route, and win this thing.

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