August 30, 2008 [LINK / comment]

Birding around Virginia Beach

Not surprisingly, we saw a fair number of interesting birds during our extensive time outdoors in Virginia Beach last weekend, including at least three species for the first time in my life: Sanderlings (which I probably had seen before without identifying it), Royal Terns (likewise), and a Seaside Sparrow. (I'm not quite sure about the Wilson's Storm-Petrels; there was a flock of 20 or so small dark birds fluttering above the waves, and I don't know what else they could have been.) It was at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It was a nice treat to see several Brown-headed nuthatches at close range right at our campground. I had seen that species only once before, at Chincoteague in 1999 -- also at a campground!. Here is a fairly complete list of the more noteworthy birds that we saw, grouped according to location:

Various places

North Bay campground

Back Bay NWR

I also saw several large dark birds flying high over the ocean; my guess is that they were some species of Shearwater. During the pre-dawn hours at the campsite we heard, on successive nights, a Great Horned Owl and a Screech Owl. The latter spooked Jacqueline, and it was the first time I had heard one for sure. Finally, we saw White-tailed deer up close, a Raccoon, a number of turtles, and even some dolphins. All in all, it was a wonderful excursion into the world of Nature.


A number of Sanderlings such as this one were patrolling the beach, running just ahead of the incoming waves, and then running back again to look for goodies in the wet sand. Roll the mouse over this image to see one of them taking off.

Gull (juvenile) flying

An unidentified species of gull (definitely juvenile) flying along the beach.