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CBBT Islands and Eastern Shore

January 12, 2008



Even our CBBT police escort was involved in watching the birds on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands!

The Hampton Roads Bird Club explored Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) Islands 2-4 and parts of the lower Eastern Shore on January 12  for our monthly field trip. Thanks to our field trip coordinator, Jane Frigo, for making arrangements with the folks at CBBT. We had 26 participants, so two groups (with one guard each) were necessary. The guards were easy to work with, and the two groups visited the islands at different times to avoid too many cars entering any one island at the same time. It was a very smooth operation due to Jane's superb pre-trip planning and on-site organization.

We began at 8:00 AM and many of us birded until dark, tallying 87 species for the day. The list below combines birds seen by both groups. Thanks to Nick Flanders and Ben Copeland for contributing to this list and making sure we included species seen by different people throughout the day.

The moderate temps and mild winds made it one of the most comfortable trips our club has ever had to the islands. Highlights on the islands included (island # in parenthesis):

- two male Harlequin Ducks (4) - sitting in plain view on a rock as we arrived - beautiful!
- 1,000+ Bonaparte Gulls, most of them sitting on the water (2)
- the large number (103) of Long-tailed Ducks (all three islands)
- Red-throated Loon (3)
- Red-necked Grebe (3)
- all three species of Scoter, most of which were in flight (all)
- 17 Tree Swallows flying by (3)
- 7 great Cormorant (all)
- Many Northern Gannet following fishing boats (all)
- 100's of Ring-billed and Herring Gull (all, but mostly 2)
- 1 Harbor Seal (feeding off the south end of 4). We also saw one on the northern end of 3 so this could have been the same individual.

At the ESVNWR two Merlin and a Northern Harrier were spotted flying overhead. On the pond at Ramp Road we had the following ducks: Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Black and Mallard. Several people had good looks at Sedge Wren and Swamp Sparrow.

In Oyster we had some interesting birds at the landfill. A fly-over American Pipit was a lifebird for many. In the water were two immature Little Blue Heron, 2 Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Black Duck and a lone Pied-billed Grebe. Two Red-tailed Hawk and an immature Bald Eagle stirred up the hundreds of gulls and starlings nearby.

The end of the road in Oyster was rich with birds, but we needed our scopes to get good looks at all the American Oystercatcher, Willet, Hooded Merganser, Kildeer and Dunlin. We also had two adult Bald Eagle here, along with fly-over Wilson's Snipe and another American Pipit.

On Rt. 600 between Oyster and Magotha Road, we saw a huge mass of white in a field on the left. There were more than 500 Snow Geese (One of them wearing a yellow band around its neck, so if you know someone who should be notified, please pass the word.). Among them were white and blue morph, along with several immature, so it was quite a sight to behold!