Chincoteague NWR > June 2010
Travels Index Michael W Masters

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This visit to Chincoteague NWR was saved by literally one single snowy egret.  Usually in June there’s plenty of action at the refuge, but this time there just wasn’t much going on.  Birds were few and far between and one had to look hard for opportunities -- which often weren't there.  Fortunately, on a couple of afternoons a young snowy chose to go fishing at the Assateague Overlook on the east side of the beach access road, a view that opens out toward Black Duck Pool and the Wildlife Loop.  This young bird spent the better part of an hour each day spinning and darting hither and yon after fish, providing me with ample opportunities for action shots as well as a few post meal stills.  The result was some of my best ever snowy action images.

Perhaps the one other high spot was the discovery that one of the pony bands had found its way onto the strip of land between the Assateague Beach parking lot and Little Tom’s Cove.  There were at least a dozen ponies in the band counting foals and I had a chance to capture a few images of mares and their youngsters.  Then the stallion noticed me and it was time to make a discrete exit from the herd.  Shortly thereafter, park and refuge staff arrived to remove the herd from the beach area.  Their plan was to route the ponies back along the beach road, but the stallion had other ideas.  As you can see, despite the best efforts of staff to redirect the herd he led his band off across the shallow waters of Little Tom’s Cove to a different part of the island.  It was a lot of fun to watch the stallion match wits with a large group of human herders and come out on top!

As a sidelight, the area between the beach and Little Tom’s Cove can be seen in one image and the pool I’ve long since dubbed Egret Alley in another.  [Update:  the standing pool in the first image and the marsh vegetation in the pony images, images which were taken between beach and Little Tom’s Cove, no longer exist.  Recent storms, including Sandy in 2012, have overwashed the entire strip of island from Atlantic Ocean beach to Little Tom’s Cove, leaving only sand and crushed shells where once shorebirds hung out in standing pools.  MWM]


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