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Weekend at Assateague - Dan the Serene
November 2nd, 2008
08:48 pm

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Weekend at Assateague
Mn-LJf Chris and I went back to Assateague this weekend to give his Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) pass a bit of an airing. From a naturalist perspective, it was a great opportunity to see long and isolated stretches of the beach relatively undisturbed. We started on the Virginia side on Saturday. The water was fairly calm and there were some vehicles around. Toms Cove Hook is closed during the summer to prevent the bird nesting sites from being disturbed, so we didn't get to go on it last time. this time we covered its length. We saw many shells in the best condition I've ever seen when washed up on shore. I could have my pick of pristine whelk shells in various sizes for example, but I didn't take any. I didn't even take a picture, which was my mistake. The brown pelicans were very busy in that area around dusk. I took many pictures of dubious quality, but mostly watched them dive for food. It is an impressive sight to see a bird that size fold its wings in a maximum dive, then open them out just before impacting with a large splash. They are definitely one of my favorite species. We stayed out until sunset.

Sunday morning we went to the much larger Maryland side. We saw many horses between the entrance and the OSV entry point, including one that stuck its head into every car like it was checking passes. This one is famous for that, and is apparently the only one you're allowed to touch. I got a picture of it sticking its head in another car, but when it came to inspect us it was too close to shoot. I think Chris got one. It was much colder and windier than the previous day, so there weren't nearly as many people out. We drove all the way down to the fence separating Maryland and Virginia. It was a unique opportunity for me to see a beach in late fall with almost no one else around. I loved it.

Birds of interest I saw this weekend in no particular order:
Great Black-backed Gulls (many)
Sanderlings (a good number, but not as many as other visits)
Herring Gulls
Various other gulls
Turkey Vultures
Black Vultures
Brown Pelicans (several dozen all told)
Double Crested Cormorants (many)
Great Cormorants (fewer than the double cresteds)
Anhingas (probably two)

Bird of interest I did not see:
Zero black headed gulls of any kind. When I was here with Penny in June, laughing gulls were probably the single most common birds.



Some of my Photos on Flickr.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:midnightsrain
Date:November 3rd, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
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It looks like you had a nice, relaxing weekend. I used to love the beach in fall when I lived in California. It's peaceful when there aren't hoards of coconut-pineapple slathered people laying all about. Your photos capture that serene quality you express. Nice set.
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From:dantheserene
Date:November 3rd, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
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Thanks. It was a unique experience for me.
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From:evelynne
Date:November 3rd, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
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I love the photo of the checkpoint pony!!!!

Have you ever been to the beach in winter? I was there one time when it was snowing. It was awesome. It's a completely different place.
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From:dantheserene
Date:November 3rd, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
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This is about as late as I've gone. Snow would be interesting. Maybe Chris and I will have to go out again as the season progresses.
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From:dantheserene
Date:November 3rd, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
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Did you mean the one were the pony stuck his head in another car or in ours?
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From:evelynne
Date:November 3rd, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
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Wow, I somehow missed the closeup entirely -- I was looking specifically for a distance shot and that's what my gaze landed on. I was talking about the distance one. I love them both though.
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From:dantheserene
Date:November 3rd, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
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The close up was added after the rest when Chris sent it to me.
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