Mathews, VA 8/19/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Walt Childs and I birded on the Mathews, Virginia Loop birding trail on March 2, 2013. We visited multiple locations on that trip, but Bethel Beach was the best spot on the loop, with North Haven and South Haven Beaches a close second in terms of the birds we saw there. But it was very cold and windy. I was wearing five layers and was still cold. We decided that we would return to the Mathews area when the weather was warmer, but hadn't gotten around to going back.

A couple of weeks ago, a birder posted seeing Seaside Sparrows, and Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows in the marsh a short distance before Bethel Beach. All three of the sparrows would be life birds for me, as well as being on my highest priority target bird list to see, so Walt and I decided go and make the three hour drive trip to get there.

We had planned on going on August 18, but the forecast was for rain. We thought we would have to wait another week, as there was 40% to 60% chance of rain on the days we could go there this week, but I checked the weather forecast early in the morning this day, and it had been revised to only 20% chance of rain, and mostly between 8 and 10 a.m. I called Walt, and we decided to leave Stoney Creek at 9:00, and would then miss the morning rush hour traffic around Richmond about half way there, and would arrive in Mathews around noon - hopefully any rain would be over by the time we got there.

All the way through and past Richmond, the sky was blue with a lot of white puffy clouds, and we thought we had gotten lucky. But when we exited I-64 at route 33 (West Point, VA), it started to rain, and the rain continued until we got to Mathews at noon, and then it stopped!

Bethel Beach

We stopped a hundred yards or so before the small bridge leading into the beach. We saw Ospreys, some gulls, and a Great Blue Heron. There were small crabs everywhere we looked. We could hear Seaside Sparrows singing in the tall marsh grasses, but couldn't see any. After about 1/2 hour, we decided to go onto the beach and try to find the sparrows a little later.


Osprey


Osprey


Crab


Crab


Crabs


Crab

There were some shorebirds on the beach, and gulls and terns flying about. A Double-crested Cormorant flew along the beach. We saw a large sandbar over then dunes that was filled with ocean birds. We saw six shore bird species, two gull species, and four tern species.


Double-crested Cormorant


Ruddy Turnstone


Ruddy Turnstone


Willet


Willet


Sanderling


Sanderling


Sanderlings


Semipalmated Plover


Semipalmated Plover


Semipalmated Plover


Black-bellied Plover


Semipalmated Sandpiper


Semipalmated Sandpiper


Herring Gull


Herring Gull


Laughing Gull


Sandwich Tern


Sandwich Tern


Sandwich Tern


Sandwich Tern


Forster's Tern


Forster's Tern


Royal Tern


Royal Terns


Black Skimmer

Ospreys were fishing in small inlet, and an immature Osprey was calling from a nest.


Osprey


Immature Osprey


Immature Osprey


Immature Osprey

When we reached the far end of the beach, the sky turned dark gray. We hustled back to the car, and got there just before it started to rain - drats! We decide to head over to the South Haven and North Haven beaches - maybe it wasn't raining there.

Click here to continue on to the South Haven and North Haven beaches



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