Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chincoteague Island...

is a wonderful and relaxed seaside town. It is not upscale but quaint in many ways and most people I believe come to Chincoteague not for the beach and surf but for the abundance of shore birds, wild ponies, song birds and life that truly blossoms on this island. Chincoteague is part of the DELMARVA peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. Delmarva refers to the three states that the peninsula spans. Del(Delaware)Mar(Maryland)Va(Virginia). It's a 4 hour drive for us even though the island is located directly east of us. We have to drive down to Virginia Beach and cross the amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge and then go back up the peninsula. Steve and I have visited several times over the last 5 years and each time it just gets better and I long to stay longer and longer.

On this trip we just had two days. My mom was back at home taking care of the girls and getting them off to school and such. It's so important that Steve and I remember to take time for us. The last two years have been emotionally draining and when you have a child that needs you in every single way to get through this time in their life then you don't really focus on anything else. It's great that we can start concentrating on us now and sneak away once and awhile.

The first day was cold and super windy and thankfully day two was much warmer and not so breezy. We had such a wonderful time and the best part was going down a service road that was 'supposedly' closed to traffic. There was no one on this gravel road and we saw so many wonderful birds and sights. We went off roading too and came up this big hill to find we were staring at the ocean. We couldn't go any further since this was the endangered Piping Plover nesting area but it was a spectacular view. We didn't see any Piping Plovers ( I don't think we did anyway, all those plovers look alike to me) but... I finally got to see a loon. I know a common water bird but I have never seen one. Even when we were in Bar Harbor, Maine I did not see one and they are aplenty there. We also spotted the Delmarva Fox Squirrel on several occasions. This is a light gray squirrel that is also on the endangered species list. They are very pretty and quick. We saw herons of every kind, egrets, shore birds, geese, ducks, hawks, an eagle and many wild ponies. We didn't see many song birds but I think that is because we were a bit early for migration. The next two weeks are prime time for song bird migration. Perhaps I will need to go back. :)

Here are some of my favorite photos. I hope if anyone has the opportunity to visit this amazing Island and wildlife refuge that you do. It's magical.

Ponies of Chincoteague
The Chincoteague Ponies were such a treat to see. They roam the island feeding on marsh grass. This is supposed to make them look a bit bloated but I just thought they were beautiful.

Chincoteague lighthouse
The island lighthouse. This is so old and beat down from the big storms that hit the island every year. They had two Nor'Easters this winter that obliterated the beach area.

Piping Plover Grounds
This was the view that we saw when we came over the hill. Gorgeous and totally deserted. This is the Piping Plover nesting grounds... have to be careful where you walk.

I drew a heart in the sand for my love

Oyster Catchers
These are Oyster Catchers. They were far off and I didn't have the longer lens so the photo isn't great.. They were very loud and squealy searching for oysters I guess. Their golden eyes and bright orange beaks were cool. Now how can they see anything with eyes on the sides of their head like that...

More ponies.... and surprise! A baby!

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret that flew over my head. His wings from this view are amazing

Mama Swallow
This is a Tree swallow that was incubating a clutch of eggs. Her husband was very shimmery when he came by to check on her.

Little Blue Heron
Tiny Blue Heron. Much smaller than the Great Blue Herons and soooo blue.

Off Roading!
I think the off roading was Steve's favorite part of our trip.

Just made us smile. This is the service road we went down. Not sure what goes on back here to prompt that sign but we were curious.

Sunset over the bay
Sunset from our hotel on the bay.