Saturday 18 March 2017

March Break...What a Week!

I just got back from a week in Virginia. It was awesome!

Since I went with my Air Cadet squadron, the main focus of the week was the military bases that we would be touring. However, for me, the focus was to enjoy the tours and find as many birds as possible during them.

I made a list of 27 birds that I could possibly see while I was down there, and I was very happy that I was able to find eight of them. The first one was Brown Pelican, which is the bird you could say I wanted the "most".

It took awhile before I could get a photo of a Laughing Gull, despite them being in almost every parking lot we visited. I probably could've gotten more if I had a better camera (I only brought my small one with terrible quality).

Fish Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Boat-tailed Grackle, and Northern Mockingbird were also new additions to the good ol' life list.

Boat-tailed Grackles....I Swear!

The final lifer I obtained was a pair of American Oystercatcher. I was quite shocked to see these birds as they were walking along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay right along a residential area. Unfortunately I was too stunned to even make an attempt to photograph them (it would have done no good anyway, as the bus was going quite fast).

I didn't only see bird lifers, though. I saw a Gray Fox and unfortunately the highly invasive Kudzu plant, which has actually recently been discovered in Leamington.

I saw 72 species in total for the trip. This included Yellow-rumped Warblers, an Osprey on nest, various gulls, Great Blue Herons, starlings, and many, many more. The trip list will be on the bottom of the post.

European Starling

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Great Blue Heron

Great Black-backed Gull

The scenery on the way up and down was quite spectacular (we drove through NY, PA, MD, and part of VA). The Appalachians remind me of Algonquin park because of all the uneven land and pockets of wetland. The window was fairly dirty, so again, not the best quality.

The weather was cold, but at least it didn't really rain or snow while we were down there. However, the states north of VA got hammered. The guy sitting in front of me fell asleep in Virginia and was surprised to have woken up in Maryland with 3 inches of snow on the ground!

The military bases were quite cool as well. We first toured the USS Mason.

It was one of the few ships in the American Navy that has actually been fired upon and successfully defend itself.

Some Hawkeyes were flying overhead around the ships as well.

The next day we toured Langley. This place is the home of the F-22 Raptor, which is quite a cool fighter jet. The base also is in charge of the aircraft fuel for the area.

On our last day in VA we toured NAS (Naval Air Station) Oceana.

Here they had my personal favourite of the fighter jets...the F-18 Super Hornet.

Afterwards we went shopping at the NEX (Navy Exchange), which was quite fun.

I would look good as a Sea Cadet!

We also visited the Virginia Aquarium, which I thought was very interesting. They had everything from an aviary with the common birds of  Virginia (that Prothonotary Warbler is still evading me) to the stingray touch tank. I would definitely go back!

Northern Bobwhite (captive)


Cow nose Rays

Here fishy, fishy, fishy!

We spent the last night in the barracks running outside every time we heard a Hornet fly over. Sometimes we got lucky and would see some flying out over the tree line.

By the way, here are the barracks.

While the trip was fun, all of us were happy to arrive home and see this.

Even more exciting is that we started seeing this all over the place again.

Overall, it was an extremely awesome week, and I can't wait to go on next year's March Break trip to South Carolina!

Trip List:
  1. Canada Goose
  2. Wood Duck
  3. Mallard
  4. Green-winged Teal
  5. Ring-necked Duck
  6. Bufflehead
  7. Common Goldeneye
  8. Hooded Merganser
  9. Common Merganser
  10. Ruddy Duck
  11. Red-throated Loon
  12. Common Loon
  13. Pied-billed Grebe
  14. Horned Grebe
  15. Red-necked Grebe
  16. Double-crested Cormorant
  17. Brown Pelican
  18. Great Blue Heron
  19. Great Egret
  20. Black Vulture
  21. Turkey Vulture
  22. Osprey
  23. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  24. Cooper's Hawk
  25. Bald Eagle
  26. Red-tailed Hawk
  27. American Oystercatcher
  28. Killdeer
  29. Greater Yellowlegs
  30. Bonaparte's Gull
  31. Laughing Gull
  32. Ring-billed Gull
  33. Herring Gull
  34. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  35. Greater Black-backed Gull
  36. Rock Pigeon
  37. Mourning Dove
  38. Belted Kingfisher
  39. Red-headed Woodpecker
  40. Downy Woodpecker
  41. Pileated Woodpecker
  42. American Kestrel
  43. Blue Jay
  44. American Crow
  45. Fish Crow
  46. Tree Swallow
  47. Carolina Chickadee
  48. Black-capped Chickadee
  49. Tufted Titmouse
  50. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  51. Carolina Wren
  52. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  53. Eastern Bluebird
  54. American Robin
  55. Northern Mockingbird
  56. European Starling
  57. Cedar Waxwing
  58. Pine Warbler
  59. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  60. American Tree Sparrow
  61. Chipping Sparrow
  62. Dark-eyed Junco
  63. Song Sparrow
  64. Northern Cardinal
  65. Red-winged Blackbird
  66. Eastern Meadowlark
  67. Common Grackle
  68. Boat-tailed Grackle
  69. Brown-headed Cowbird
  70. House Finch
  71. American Goldfinch
  72. House Sparrow


  1. Looks like you had a great trip. Good week to go away...we had terrible weather here! (and few birds).

    1. Yeah, so I heard. I was quite worried that the Ivory Gull would show up again and I'd miss it!

    2. It ended up in Flint Michigan and eventually died. So, that one is off the table.
      There was an Ivory Gull in London many many years ago! Still hope.

    3. A tragic end to a beautiful bird. I have a feeling this year will be full of vagrants!

  2. Sounds like you had a fabulous trip in this jam-packed and fun-filled week! And aside from the birds, I know that air force bases in particular are exceedingly wonderful places to visit, so you had a great combination.

    1. There was almost too much! The air bases were quite cool, and I definitely learned a lot from them. If only I had the better camera, then I would have gotten some great shots of the Hornets.

  3. Nice. I like your blog! Love April Fowl's Day. Keep things coming:)