Eco-Expedition — Eastern Shore Trip Report (October 23-28, 2005)

Dr. Gene Wilhelm - Leader-Guide
Brian Shema - Co-leader

On Sunday, October 23rd, 2005, a team of sixteen participants gathered to embark upon Audubon Society of Western PA's Eco-Expedition to the Eastern Shore. For the following six days, the participant team scoured the coastal ecosystems of Virginia studying the birds, animals, and habitats endemic to the area. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Assateague Island, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and Wallops Island were among the destinations.

A complete trip report will be included in the January - February 2006 Bulletin (no longer available), but the following pictures tell some of the tales.

American Oystercatcher

Common but not abundant along the Eastern Shore, American Oystercatchers were found feeding along oyster beds. Note that this bird has a fresh oyster in its bill!
(Photo: Brian Shema)


Among the favorite birds found during the week were three American Avocets in winter plumage. Note the difference in bill morphology shown in this picture. The female (on the left) has a bill which is more "upturned" than the male.
 (Photo: Brian Shema)

Black-crowned Night Heron

Several Night Herons were observed throughout the trip, including this juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron posing on a dead limb.
 (Photo: Brian Shema)

Black-crowned Night Heron

Much of the ecosystem along the eastern shore is comprised of coastal salt marshes. The marshes provide valuable habitat to several bird species, but also serve as a first line of defense from coastal floods.
 (Photo: Brian Shema)


Merlins were plentiful and were found in varying habitats throughout the week. This Merlin, with a recent kill in her talons, was found along the North Road of Assateague Island, a restricted area which was opened for our group.
 (Photo: Brian Shema)

Snow Geese in Flight

And finally, Snow Geese. The "swarms" of snow geese is a sight like no other. Between five and ten thousand snow geese converged upon the coast during the week.

Would you like to know how many birds were seen during the week or see additional photos? ake a look at the Audubon Society of Western PA's website at

Watch for more ASWP Eco-expeditions in the coming years, you never know where we may travel!
— by Brian Shema

Image Gallery

Mission of 3RBC

To gather in friendship, to enjoy the wonders of nature and to share our passion for birds!

© Photo Credits:
Sherron Lynch, Brian Shema, Chuck Tague