Assateague and Chincoteague

We didn’t have too much trouble spotting the famous wild horses and ponies of Assateague and Chincoteague. Immediately upon entering Assateague State Park, we came across a group grazing beside the road. Long unkempt manes add a dash of careless aloofness to their beauty.

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Although Assateague and Chincoteague are famous for these large (controlled) population of wild horses and ponies. I found both island to be a bird photographers dream, despite having visited in not the ideal season. Assateague’s and Chincoteague’s marshes support vast populations of cranes, herons and other wading birds; their proximity to the ocean brings gulls and terns to the refuge; the woods in the area house warblers, thrushes and other small birds; the abundant fish attract raptors like ospreys and eagles. Unsuprisingly we got a taste of them all.

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A Great Egret making a landing
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Another Great Egret on the hunt
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Common Terns abound
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An Eastern Kingbird
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A Pine Warbler
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A Yellow-throated Warbler
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A Great-blue Heron lifting off
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Common Tern at the Chincoteague Pier
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A Double-crested Cormorant basking in the sun
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The beach at Tom’s Cove is teeming with Sanderlings, scurrying about
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This Brown Thrasher was very well camouflaged, a hard bird to spot!

Both wildlife refuges support their avian inhabitants with an abundance of seafood. Everywhere we looked a bird was about to dine.

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For a Common Tern, a catch almost always ends with a chase
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A rare sight, a solitary Common Tern with its lunch
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This egret spent a few minutes violently shaking the fish before eating it…
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The fish wasn’t an easy swallow
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A Herring Gull
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Yet another gull (another Herring?) with a crab for its lunch

The best photographs however came in the wee morning hours at dawn on the last day of our vacation. We woke up well before sunrise and drove to Tom’s Cove, a south-east facing beach, in Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge.

I photographed the rising sun with the only lens I had, a 200-500mm telephoto. The sun’s shimmering outline, its flattened reflection on the sea below and the moment of capture – all make it work beautifully for me.

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Great Egrets are magnificent birds. The warm morning sunlight adds to their magnificence.

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This light morning mist over the swamps and marshes of Chincoteague made for some beautiful scenes. Soft wispy lighting like this is a photographers delight.

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Horses in the mist

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