2023 Virginia – Bombay Hook and Chincoteague NWR
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Medium Group
This will be a wonderful tour of memorable birding at beautiful locations. The tour will include a half-day visit to Bombay Hook NWR and a day and a half at Chincoteague NWR. We’ll travel the length of the Delmarva Peninsula to Kiptopeke State Park and the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
There will be migrant warblers, shorebirds, waterfowl, and local specialties such as Brown-headed Nuthatch and American Oystercatcher. Rarities that we have found at this time of year include American White Pelican, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Eurasian Wigeon, Dickcissel, and Snow Bunting.
Chincoteague Ponies and Delmarva Fox Squirrels are always big favorites, as are the flocks of waterfowl and shorebirds that may contain a nice rarity, perhaps a Ruff. This will be a great tour at a comfortable pace. Evening dining will offer seafood fare for which Chincoteague’s restaurants are famous.
We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Duration: 5 days
Limit: 4 – 8 participants
Date: 15 October – 19 October 2023
Start: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
End: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
US$1995 per person sharing assuming 4 – 8 participants
Single supplement: US$350
We can run the same trip at a price similar to the larger group price for 2 tour participants, if they rent their own vehicle and pay for fuel – please e-mail [email protected] for details.
- Guiding fees
- Entrance fees
- All transport while on tour
- Domestic and International flights
- Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts
- Alcoholic drinks
- Personal insurance
- Laundry Service
Arrival in Philadelphia
Arrival is at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Transfer to your hotel, where a room will be reserved in your name. We will gather in the hotel lobby, tentatively at 6:30 p.m. We’ll confirm this time at a later date. From there we will go out for
an orientation dinner and to discuss tomorrow’s exciting events.
Bombay Hook and Chincoteague
After breakfast our first planned birding stop is Bombay Hook NWR on the Delaware Bay. We should find many puddle and bay ducks, a few rails, many shorebirds, and raptors including Bald Eagle and Northern Harrier. American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt are likely. A search through the
blackbird flocks may produce Yellow-headed or even Brewer’s Blackbird. There is a chance for both Barred Owl and Short-eared Owl.
From there we will proceed to Chincoteague NWR in Virginia. We’ll scope for Common Loon, Clapper Rail, Brant, Peregrine Falcon, and American Oystercatcher along the causeway. We will do as much additional birding as time allows. Dinner will be at one of the local seafood restaurants. We will spend all three nights at the same comfortable motel in the village of Chincoteague. It has a gorgeous view of the bay.
All Day at Chincoteague
Our day’s birding will be at Chincoteague NWR and nearby environs. We’ll head for the causeway for the early morning activity, which can be impressive. This area will give us lots of shorebirds, usually including American Oystercatchers in the oyster beds, plus a nice variety of long-legged waders, waterfowl, and a Northern Harrier or Merlin.
There are some good spots toward the southern end of Chincoteague Island that often yield Brant, Marbled Godwit, Black Skimmer, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. After looking for Clapper Rail, we’ll make our way into the refuge. Birds here can range from Pine Warbler to Hermit Thrush and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, migrant warblers, and with any luck, an unusual duck or shorebird. We will attempt to find the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel while looking for songbirds on the Pony Trail.
There will be Sanderlings, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and Caspian and Royal Terns on the beach, and Common and Red-throated Loons, Brown Pelican, and possibly a Parasitic Jaeger or Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin offshore.
Kiptopeke State Park and Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR
Today we head south to to the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula and Kiptopeke State Park. The hedgerows hold a nice variety of sparrows and migrant warblers, and we’ll check in at the hawk watch to see what raptors are moving and what else has been seen. One year we found a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and a Snow Bunting on the rock jetties. We will hope to observe a songbird banding demonstration.
The next stop is Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR, which contains extensive songbird habitat. Even more extensive marshes are good for Marsh Wren, Clapper and Virginia Rails, and perhaps an American Bittern or Short-eared Owl. We will certainly add a number of new species to our growing list of shorebirds and other aquatic species.
The flats at Willis Wharf are also known for shorebirds, especially Marbled Godwit and Whimbrel, plus Willet and Stilt Sandpiper. We often have excellent looks at Saltmarsh Sparrow at this location.
We’ll return to Chincoteague by the end of the day for another great dinner and our third and final night there.
We’ll make the final 3-hour drive north and return to Philadelphia International Airport in the late morning, the end of a wonderful five-day tour on the Delmarva Peninsula!
BOMBAY HOOK AND CHINCOTEAGUE NWR
19-22 October 2012
1 – Saltmarsh Sparrow – we had simply incredible, close-up, prolonged views of two adults and a juvenile in the salt marsh at Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge.
2 – Great Cormorant – two immatures were in close comparison to several Double-crested Cormorants on the south jetty of Ocean City Inlet.
3 – Brown-headed Nuthatch – there were numerous individuals easily seen and heard at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
4 – Red-breasted Nuthatch – many were readily found throughout the tour during this major invasion year.
5 – American Oystercatcher – these showy shorebirds are always a big hit on the Chincoteague oyster beds.
6 – American Avocet – there were hundreds on the Bombay Hook impoundments.
7 – Stilt Sandpiper – our best look was of two individuals on the Wachapreague mudflats.
8 – Marbled Godwit – one of these large cinnamon-colored shorebirds was with a large flock of Willets at Swan Cove, Chincoteague.
9 – Golden-crowned Kinglet – these birds usually feed high in tree top canopies, often in evergreens. We found a nice fallout on the dunes and in goldenrod at Indian River Inlet.
10 – Black-necked Stilt – a single bird was with Avocets at Bombay Hook. This is late in the season for this species.
We were fortunate enough to see numerous Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphins at several locations. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge yielded SIX Delmarva Fox Squirrels (a federally endangered species) and six Wild Ponies.
We identified 12 species of butterflies that included Common Buckeye, many Monarchs, Red Admiral, American Lady, Mourning Cloak, Great Spangled and Meadow Fritillaries, Cloudless, Clouded, and Orange Sulphurs, Delaware Skipper, and Cabbage White.
Will we do any birding the first day?
Yes! We have birding planned if time allows and everything is on schedule.
How should I dress for the tour?
Check the weather for the destination as close to your departure date as possible, and dress accordingly for your comfort level. You can also review our What to Bring page for more information.
Besides clothes, what do I need to bring?
There are many items the will be useful to you while on a Bird Treks tour. We have put together our list of recommendations on the What to Bring page.
What language are tours conducted in?
Our tours are all conducted in English, but we do have some experience working with client that don’t speak English well – Some English would be needed for safety reasons. In locations where another language is predominately spoken, a native guide may accompany the tour.
Can you help me book flights?
Yes, we will always try our best to help with anything at all! We’re here to serve you. However, it is usually easier if you book your flight through your own travel agent as we can’t always get the best deals from your particular country. But we will help whenever needed!
Can you book accommodation for us the night before the tour starts or the night the tour ends?
While Day 1 is usually a travel (arrival) day, and the last day of the tour is usually also a travel day (departure), many people do like to arrive early and/or leave late. We can indeed book extra nights before and after the trip, and we in fact recommend you let us book them, as it avoids confusion and allows us to book the accommodation that is most convenient for the tour.
NOTE: Most often it is the same hotel or lodge that you use on the first night of the tour, but in some instances, it could be an airport hotel or an accommodation establishment where the guide is staying.
Do you provide trip insurance?
No, we do not. We find that it is better for trip participants to purchase their own medical, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance through their own insurance provider in the country they reside in. We expect all tour participants to have comprehensive insurance, and we encourage everyone to send us a copy of their insurance documents.
Are meals included?
For most tours, meals are included in the tour price. This may include a hotel-provided breakfast, or guide-provided box lunches. For dinners, we strive to find interesting and delicious local restaurants – this allows us to give back to the local economy, and find exciting new place to eat.