Coastal Virginia, 1/17-19/16

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Rudee Inlet; January 18

It was sunny, but 14 degrees with 15-25 mph winds when we arrived at Rudee Inlet early in the morning. There were lots of gulls, ducks, and a few other species at the inlet. I was wearing a thick, winter glove on my left hand to hold my monopod, and a thin glove on my right hand to operate my camera. The metal monpod and camera quickly sucked the heat from my hands, and a short while after we arrived, I couldn't feel my finger tips.

Red-breasted Mergansers

Female Red-breasted Merganser

Male Red-breasted Merganser

Immature male Red-breasted Merganser

Brown Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorants

Male Boat-tailed Grackle

Female Boat-tailed Grackle

There were quite a few gulls at the inlet and on the beach next to the inlet, including a Lesser Black-backed Gull (my life bird #614).

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

I had brought some chemical hand warmer packets along with me, but couldn't find them, and was beginning to think that my photography was going to be bust for the trip, when Walt found the packets buried under some items in my car. Whew! I put one in each of my gloves, and while they didn't keep my fingers toasty warm, at least I could feel my finger tips! We drove from the inlet to Back Bay NWR, and stopped along the way at the Virginia Aquarium. There were a few ducks and a Great Blue Heron there, and we saw our first Bald Eagle of this trip. It flew across the water with a fish in its talons, and had breakfast in a tree there.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Back Bay NWR; January 18

I had been to the Back Bay NWR in November 2014, and it was loaded with waterfowl then. But it was very quiet there on this trip. There wasn't a single bird in the water behind the Visitor's Center, and very few birds elsewhere. The cold and strong winds must have kept many of the birds hunkered down. We walked the marsh trail, and saw a good number of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and encountered a Great Blue Heron a small pond along the boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk, we saw one good-sized flock of Tundra Swans near us, and a huge flock of them on the far side. We saw a few more duck species there, and our second Northern Harrier of the trip.

Great Blue Heron

Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans

Northern Harrier

We hiked part of the Dune Trail that is open in the winter, and saw a few sparrows and other species in the vegetation, and a few more duck species when we could look through openings to the water.

Immature Male Red-winged Blackbird

We hiked on one of the boardwalks over the sand dunes to the ocean, but only saw a couple of gulls, and were surprised to see three White-tailed Deer foraging in the sand dunes.

White-tailed Deer

Fort Story and First Landing State Park; January 18

We ended the morning birding with a short visit to Fort Story and First Landing State Park. Fort Story is an Army base, and is for the most part, not open to the public, but we were allowed to enter and drive to the 1792 Cape Henry lighthouse, and one of the smallest, if not the smallest national park: the Cape Henry Memorial. We were required to show a driver's license, auto registration, and proof of insurance, and my entire car was inspected, including under the car and under the hood.

1792 Cape Henry lighthouse and Memorial

There were very few birds to see there. I did see two more Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but one of them was shielding itself from the wind behind a post, and some of the Sanderlings were trying to stay warm behind some small vegetation. A couple of Northern Gannets flew by over the ocean.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gulls



Northern Gannet

We made a quick stop at First Landing State Park, as well on the way back later in the afternoon, but didn't see much there.

Click here to continue on the afternoon of day two of the trip

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