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Thread subject: My Visit to Virginia and the Blackwater Refuge, Maryland
Name Date Message
Celeste 10/29/04 04:50 pm This past week my husband and I were visiting Virginia and Maryland (US Nat'l Wildlife Refuges) and were fortunate to observe many species of wildlife. One of the highlights was seeing the wild ponies of Assateague, MD. These horses roam wild through the Assateague Island beaches, the parking lots, wherever. I could have touched the horses if I wanted too, (didn't--against the law). We also saw the sika deer, (minature deer). We then went to Blackwater Refuge where I saw their osprey nest with its cam. The day I was there it was occupied by blackbirds. The weather was clear, with blue skies and beautiful autumn colors. Blackwater is located on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Dorchester Maryland. It is a resting and feeding area for migrating and wintering wildlife. It also has one of the largest populations of nesting bald eagles on the Atlantic coast north of Florida. The area is pristine and so very peaceful. My husband and I made sure we got to the Refuge as soon as they opened at 8am and we were the only ones there. One can drive the Wildlife Drive and/or take mini tours down different paths. I saw Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, (sitting on a dead tree no less) in a marsh, Red Tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, flocks of red-winged blackbirds, but the most thrilling were the Eagles. I saw them in trees just majestically looking around. One thing I have learned about Eagles, (these were my first experiences with Eagles), is that they are not easily approached as one can do with osprey. If one caught a glimpse of me walking too close, they would quickly fly away. However, one Eagle in particular "screeched", (first time for me), it echoed as he majestically circled above me and flew to another tree. It was thrilling to take the different paths of the Refuge and find this most beautiful bird. I was thrilled beyond words. Without realizing it, my husband and I were either watching the eagles with naked eye or binoculars for almost 4 hours and the time flew. Another awesome experience, though many of us who live on the East Coast see them everyday, were the Canadian Geese. Collectively we saw thousands flying above us. The noise was unbelievable. From what I understand many of the geese are banded and are migratory birds, and many our residents. The area is noted as one of the best hunting area of ducks and geese (unfortunately). In fact the hunting season was to begin next week. It was an awesome sight to see nature in action. If any of you who live on the eastern seaboard have an opportunity to visit these beautiful refuges it is certainly worthwhile. I thought of "all of us" as I saw these "wonders"!
Marie 10/29/04 06:46 pm smile........how WONDERFUL Celeste......now you can appreciate my absolute fascination with EAGLES. It must have been magic to watch them for that period of time. Isn't it amazing how time flies when one is having so much fun watching NATURE.One can become fully immersed in it. I bet the scenerey was colourful too. All those EGRETS..( made me jealous).and you named them Celeste. You are becoming quite a BIRDER now.
As you know I watch for my Eagles everyday. They are truly magestic when they float through the air on their way to the islands off the beach.I've noticed over this past year that a successful hunt requires full co-operation between bonded pairs. Bald Eagles, I would imagine, have been primarily fish eaters over thousands of years, but as fish dwindled these great birds have adapted to other means of food sources. New strategies had to be worked out. A learned behaviour of cooperation. Survival techniques. Survival of the fittest again.......
Cecilia 10/29/04 09:49 pm Well...dear Celeste...I hope you had your life list with you ...it sounds like you might have had a chance to add a few birds!

What a wonderful description of your trip! I'm really jealous now! Retirement plus birding vacations...just the best!

Marie is right...you are becoming a "birder"...and I couldn't be happier for you! Give Frank big kisses for his cultural enrichment tours :-)
Celeste 10/30/04 04:17 am Thank you....however, there were many, many times, and I am serious, that Frank and I both said, "wish Cecilia/Marie were here. If anyone had an opportunity to observe us trying to figure out what we were trying to identify, it would be very entertaining for them. There were many other birds I saw, but I cannot "commit" to what we thought they were. I did what Marie has advised, and Petersen's....looking at the colors, the tail, beak, etc.....but still.....all I kept saying was, "if Marie or Cec were here, they would know! I have some primitive drawings that I made that I intend to try and figure out what I saw......It was easy identifying the horses though!!!!
Marie 10/30/04 12:31 pm LOL.....horses! You are doing all the right things Celeste. Drawing pictures is indeed a great way to remember how the bird looked.You are coming along by leaps and bounds. I bet in a while you could ID birds that I have never seen before, 'cos some of your eastern birds never quite make it out west. Can't blame them sometimes when the winds and rains are upon us. This is our wet season but at least today, it is dry although rather windy. No sign of my eagles on the channel markers when I scan the view with my binoculars here this morning. Have a good W/E everybody
Mickey 10/31/04 08:36 pm wow Celeste it looks like you guys had a awesome time :)
karen 11/01/04 08:26 am Birding is a challenge! I would have loved to see the horses. I spent 2 days last week at Cape May Point and joined up with 2 organized walks. One twilight to see migrating owls which was a beautiful walk thru marshes to the ocean and back. Never did see any owls but did see a kingfisher and lots of ducks in the marsh. The next morning we took a meadow walk that was wetter than the marshes! I saw a meadowlark and several hawks Northern Harrier the clearest and a Great Cormorant which is actually quite rare in our area not like the Double Crested which is everywhere! But the birds that most of the very experienced birders were watching were the sparrows ... song swamp lincoln palm all of which appear to my eye as small brownish birds! They were plentiful but fly quickly and love the tall grasses ( almost as high as my shoulder ). It turns out that there is a subcategory of birding ( at least in Cape May ) called "sparrowing" and these dedicated birders try to see how fast they can pick out the different sparrows so our walk had constant verbal IDS and "got its" Of course I got zippo! just small brown birds! They do get Eagles but not on my trip....
Celeste 11/01/04 09:08 am Karen I know exactly what you mean. And Zippo sums it up too. When I was at Acadia and the experienced birders were pointing and looking, I was still having a hard time just locating the birds with my binoculars, let alone identifying. When I do "see" something, out comes the book and the guesses between my husband and I. It is definitely a sitcom to watch!!!
Grace 11/01/04 09:09 am Speaking of seeing birds...I swim early in the morning at the SUNY Stony Brook pool. This morning, much to my surprise, there was a wood thrush flying around the pool. It must have come in the windows which were open. The bird was clearly stressed as it was confined and really hot. We left the doors open and pretty soon, it flew out.
Celeste 11/01/04 09:12 am That must have been a sight! I am always wondering about the birds one sees in the Price Clubs, large supermarkets, etc.
karen 11/01/04 10:06 am So glad the Wood Thrush got out, The price club sparrows ( the only kind I can ID!) live very happy lives there because there is always spilled bird seed availible. I do see a bird in the plants in the Miami airport tho that stressed me because that place is hermetically sealed and the bird that was in the Waldbaums in Great Neck was captured and killed by the Waldbaums bird swat team that they bring in at night ... sad because with a little effort maybe it could have been coaxed out of the building.
Grace 11/01/04 10:11 am You've got to be kidding? They captured and then killed a bird? Seems to me that having captured it, they could then have released it. I know we can't have birds in supermarkets around our food, but that's just ridiculous. Cross Waldbaum's off my list!
Celeste 11/01/04 05:45 pm I wonder if that is a common policy in all stores.....I agree with Grace.......they could have just released it.
Melanie 11/12/04 11:27 am And for anyone else who comes down this way, Kiptopeke is another great place for birding http://www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/kiptopek.htm. it's futher down Virginia's Eastern Shore - almost to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, but another great place for birding.

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Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004