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2025 Virginia – Chincoteague and the Delmarva Peninsula
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Medium Group
The Delmarva Peninsula provides excellent birding in early winter. We will visit Virginia Beach, Fort Story, Kiptopeke State Park, Ocean City, and spend a full day at Chincoteague NWR, where we will see Wild Ponies and many great birds. Scoping along the coast is likely to produce a nice variety of seabirds, Purple Sandpiper, other shorebirds, and perhaps a vagrant or two.
Good numbers of waterfowl are expected, including Harlequin Duck, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, and Canvasback. Unusual gulls found on previous tours include Glaucous, Little, Black-headed, and a Black-legged Kittiwake – – the kittiwake was perched ten feet away!
We should also see American Woodcock, Brown Pelican, Bald Eagle, Marbled Godwit, Great Cormorant, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. There may be a hummingbird or two, such as Rufous, Calliope, or another western vagrant.
We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Duration: 6 days
Limit: 4 – 8
Date: 26 December – 31 December 2025
Start: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
End: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
US$2806 per person sharing assuming 4 – 8 participants
Single supplement: US$491
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
Arrive in Philadelphia
Plan to fly into the Philadelphia International Airport. From there you will be taken to your hotel when we will discuss the plans for the tour and have a nice dinner.
Bombay Hook NWR, Port Mahon, Indian River Inlet, and Ocean City Inlet
We’ll pack up the van and head south. Today’s birding stops may include Bombay Hook NWR, Port Mahon, Indian River Inlet, and Ocean City Inlet. We’re likely to find many puddle and bay ducks, a few shorebirds, and raptors including Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, and possibly a Rough-legged Hawk.
A thorough search of the blackbird flocks may yield a Yellow-headed or Brewer’s Blackbird. There is an occasional Snowy Owl near Bombay Hook and regular Harlequin Ducks, Common Eiders, Red-throated Loons, and Canvasbacks at Ocean City.
Chincoteague NWR and Wildlife Drive
Our day’s birding will begin at Chincoteague NWR to look for Marbled Godwit, American Oystercatcher and, with any luck, an American White Pelican. There is usually a nice variety of shorebirds, herons, egrets, and raptors along the causeway. We’ll sort through all of the common waterfowl for uncommon species, perhaps a Eurasian Wigeon.
Scanning the ocean and beach is likely to produce Lesser Black-backed Gull, Northern Gannet, Red-throated Loon, flocks of scoters and cormorants, and often a few Brown Pelicans. We’ll finish the day along the Wildlife Drive where we may see a Peregrine Falcon or Merlin, a few new shorebirds, and flocks of Snow Geese that will hopefully contain a Ross’s Goose.
Sika Deer and Chincoteague Ponies are normally quite easy to see, while Delmarva Fox Squirrels can be more of a challenge, but are often findable.
Kiptopeke State Park and Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR
Further down the coast, the flats at Willis Wharf and Oyster are known for their shorebirds, especially Marbled Godwit and Whimbrel. We will strive to find Saltmarsh Sparrow. Later in the day we’ll visit Kiptopeke State Park and Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR.
The hedgerows at Kiptopeke hold a nice variety of sparrows, the marsh usually has Clapper Rail and perhaps Virginia Rail, and falcons may fly overhead. A few of the unusual birds that we’ve found in this area on previous tours include Dickcissel, Lark Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, Black-headed Grosbeak, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Western Kingbird, and Virginia’s first Vermilion Flycatcher – – WOW, great birds!
Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel and Seashore State Park
Pre-breakfast birding is likely to produce American Woodcock in our spotlight. Owls that we have previously called or squeaked into view at Eastern Shore include Barn, Short-eared, Long-eared, Northern Saw-Whet, Eastern Screech, and Great Horned. The islands and nearby waters of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel will yield a number of new species.
Expect Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Purple Sandpiper, and Red-throated Loon. We’ll check carefully for King and Common Eiders and Harlequin Duck, all of which are annual here. Harbor Seals sometimes make an appearance, and even a Humpback Whale is possible.
The cypress swamp at Seashore State Park may produce Barred Owl and Pileated Woodpecker, and Fort Story should have many Bonaparte’s Gulls and perhaps Pine or Palm Warbler among the Yellow-rumped Warblers. We once found a Common Murre here, one of only several Virginia records.
We’ll drive back across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and continue north for our final night in Salisbury, Maryland. This will put us in a good position for tomorrow’s drive to Philadelphia.
We will have an early departure from our motel in Salisbury. The tour will end at the Philadelphia International Airport for your flight home, or you can spend New Year’s Eve in Philadelphia if you wish, the City of Brotherly Love!
CHINCOTEAGUE AND THE DELMARVA PENINSULA TOUR:
27-31 December 2005
Top 10 lists are voted upon by the participants at the completion of each tour.
1 – Harlequin Duck
2 – Brown-headed Nuthatch
3 – Purple Sandpiper
4 – Eurasian Wigeon
5 – American Woodcock
6 – Common Eider
7 – Surf Scoter
8 – American Oystercatcher
9 – Northern Harrier
10 – Eurasian Collared-Dove
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.