On my way home from Williamsburg I stopped at  Chincoteague Island to visit one of my favorite spots, the adjacent National Wildlife Refuge.  For scenery and water birds this place is like the Forsythe Refuge on steroids.  In the last week of December it certainly wasn’t people-crowded but the birds were out working the marshes and tidal pools.

Sunrise from the wildlife refuge.

As you see above, the sun rose over a quiet sea.  Cold? Yep!  Looking left or right for a couple of miles I could see maybe four people.

A cold cafeteria.

But the birds had begun their daily foraging.

 There is an access road that runs through the refuge, and a one-way circular road that is only open to cars after 3:00 pm.  But the two-way access road is lined with drainage ditches that provide a barrier between people and birds, and the birds have acclimated to the traffic, permitting lots of good closeups.  On the access road around Snow Goose Pond I could see Snow Geese in the distance and hear Trumpeter Swans but they were too far to photograph.

Among the best places to shoot are the culverts which pass under the road and which enable tidal flow into and out of the marshes.  The picture below was taken at one such place.  The flow of water brings lots of food for them.

Lurking for breakfast.

I set up my tripod along one of the ditches and watched this bird patiently sit….and study…….and strike!

Regretfully, the day came to an end, with these ducks still bottom feeding on Snow Goose Pond.

Sunset over Snow Goose Pond.

For larger versions of the above images and some more views please click here to go to a gallery.

I have never included a commercial note in two years of my posts but I heartily recommend the Best Western on Maddox Road just slightly before one enters the refuge.  It’s clean, well appointed, convenient, the people are pleasant and the rate was reasonable.  And, after watching the ducks bottom feeding I settled for a delicious steak in a comfortable atmosphere at AJ’s, also on Maddox Boulavard.  I’ve patronized both places before and the quality has held up.

Mid to late March would probably be the next good time to visit the refuge, about four hours drive from the Philadelphia area.