After my pelagic trips, I headed up to Lewes, Delaware for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the American Birding Association's Camp Avocet. All of us campers were dropped off on the afternoon of August 10th, and we were to leave on August 16th.
Day One (August 11th): We took a brief walk past the salt marsh at the Virden Center where we were based. The seven Clapper Rails we saw strutting openly in the canals were definitely the highlight. (It would have been even better if I hadn't left my camera in our dorm....) Next we headed to the point at Cape Henlopen for a little sunset birding. We saw a couple American Oystercatchers and Semipalmated Plovers, and several Sanderlings, among other distant shorebirds. We observed over a dozen Black Scoters and one Red-breasted Merganser, plus loads of gulls and terns as well.
The breathtaking sunset at Cape Henlopen
Day Two (August 12th): On our first full day of birding we went to various spots within Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Shorebirds, terns, and waders were the highlight here, and they all provided great study!
Great and Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets and American Avocets
Snowy Egret (left) with a Black-necked Stilt (right)
At Fowler Beach (still part of Prime Hook) we flushed several sparrows but without satisfying looks. Our camp counselor George Armistead started pishing, and finally multiple Seaside Sparrows and one Saltmarsh Sparrow popped up and landed on a dead branch. The Saltmarsh Sparrow was a totally unexpected sighting, and it was my 314th lifer! Other than the sparrows, we had wonderful looks at Snowy Egrets, Glossy Ibises, Least Sandpipers, one Whimbrel, one Piping Plover, and much more.
Back at our base at the Virden Center, we had a fantastic dinner and an awesome presentation by Louise Zemaitis on "Birding by Habitat." We all went to bed satisfied with the day and excited about birding at Chincoteague the next day. (Days 3 - 6 are soon to follow.)