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Birding Virginia's Eastern Shore: Assateague, Chincoteague and Wallops Island

Program Number: 2019RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/9/2014 - 2/14/2014; 4/26/2015 - 5/1/2015; 12/6/2015 - 12/11/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Wallops Island, Virginia
Price starting at: $499.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

During the migratory season, millions of birds along the Atlantic Flyway "funnel" through a small area along Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where more than 400 species have been recorded. Explore the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge's restricted back country on Chincoteague and Assateague islands. Examine geological and environmental factors that influence birds and their habitats and keep an eye out for resident wild ponies.




Highlights

• Gain access to restricted Wallops Island to bird in an unspoiled environment maintained by NASA.
• Learn identification methods using field markings, vocalizations and behavior patterns.
• Embark on a study cruise aboard the Marine Science Consortium’s research vessel and enjoy a narrated walk through the dunes and beaches of Delmarva.



Activity Particulars

Walking at a slow “birding” pace up to two miles on mostly flat terrain, occasional small hills, sand dunes, loose sand. Climbing vintage school bus stairs.



So you can get the most out of your experience, all of our birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1.




Date Specific Information

2-9-2014, 12-6-2015

Winter on the Eastern Shore of VA brings thousands of waterfowl. Northern gannet, brant, snow geese, surf scoter, loons, bald eagles and long tailed duck make this one of the best winter birding sites in the Commonwealth.



4-26-2015

Spring and summer are exciting times for birders in our area. This is a good time to see large numbers of migrating shore birds, warblers, and other birds invade Assateague. Throughout the spring and summer, visitors will also find many herons and egrets stalking the shallow ponds for a meal.



Coordinated by the Chincoteague Bay Field Station.




Wallops Island

Virginia’s Eastern Shore offers a historic and scenic combination of maritime heritage, wave-swept beaches, and both fresh and saltwater wetlands, as well as Wallops Island, a barrier island just off the coast in Chesapeake Bay.



Accommodations
Suites in state-of-the-art residential hall, two bedrooms to each bath. Large lounge with television, Internet access.
Meals and Lodgings
   Chincoteague Bay Field Station
  Wallops Island 5 nights
 Chincoteague Bay Field Station
Type: Field Station
  Description: The Chincoteague Bay Field Station (CBFS) of the Marine Science Consortium is a residential environmental learning center and field station which provides hands-on educational programs on coastal and marine environments. Road Scholar participants will be housed in one of the CBFS' residence halls. The residence hall is two stories tall and has no elevator. This facility is set up like a college-style dorm or camp retreat center where bedrooms are grouped into sets of four bedrooms, accessed through one exterior locking door. Inside participants will find four comfortable bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bedrooms have single twin beds, no bunk beds. There are two bathrooms per set of four rooms. Each bathroom has two sinks, two showers with changing areas, and two toilets. Bathrooms are not connected to bedrooms but are shared by only two rooms. (There will never be more than 4 people sharing one bathroom. Usually there are only two). All rooms are comfortable with central heat, and air conditioning. Each room has 2-4 beds, one night stand, a lamp and clothing storage. These accommodations give participants the private space they need, in private single bedrooms or shared with desired roommate, as well as great opportunities for socializing with others. Meals are served in a common dining room shared by all CBFS guests. A hot meal option is provided along with cereal, fruit, and yogurt available at breakfast and a salad bar available at lunch and dinner. Some meals are also taken at area restaurants that feature a variety of local seafood specialties. While our address says that CBFS is located on Wallops Island, participants will find that our campus is not actually on an island. We share a historic postal code with the nearby NASA Wallops Flight Facility and Navy base because of our common history and partnership. We are just a 5-minute drive away from three of Virginia's beautiful barrier islands- Wallops, Chincoteague, and Assateague.
  Contact info: 34001 Mill Dam Rd
Wallops Island, VA 23337 USA
phone: 757-824-5636
web: www.cbfieldstation.org
  Room amenities: A/C and Heat, Nightstand, Clothing Storage
  Facility amenities: The residence hall is located across campus from meeting spaces and cafeteria, with parking available nearby. A coin-operated laundry room is available. The campus has a large lounge for participants with comfortable chairs and sofas, tables to play games, and television. Wireless Internet access is available in the main Education Center.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: There are two bathrooms per set of four rooms. Each bathroom has two sinks, two showers, and two toilets. Bathrooms are not connected to bedrooms. (There will never be more than 4 people sharing one bathroom. Usually there are only two).
  Additional nights prior: $35 Availability for additional nights of lodging is based on field station capacity and other scheduled programs. Please call the CBFS at least 3 weeks in advance to make a reservation.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $35 Availability for additional nights of lodging is based on field station capacity and other scheduled programs. Please call the CBFS at least 3 weeks in advance to make a reservation.
  Check out time: 9:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Registration and Check-In is from at 3:00-5:00 PM at the Marine Science Consortium Education Center You will be staying at Chincoteague Bay Field Station that night.
  End of Program:
Check out after lunch on the last day of the program. You will be staying at Chincoteague Bay Field Station the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. We will be visiting a NASA base and will need a photo ID. Foreign Nationals will need to fill out the attached Foreign National Form 6 weeks in advance to be allowed access on to base. You may want to bring your Golden Age Pass/Golden Eagle Pass/Duck Stamp if you plan on visiting the National Wildlife Refuge on your own. Health form and release due prior to arrival.
  Parking availability:
Parking is available.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Wallops Island
  Nearest city or town:  Chincoteague, VA
  Nearest highway: VA Rt 13
  Nearest airport:  Salisbury Airport (SBY)
  From End of Program
  Location: Wallops Island
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Oak Hall / T's Corner

 

From Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
Marine Science Consortium
phone: 757-824-5636
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

0
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

.25 

   

Please call the Marine Science Consortium and let us know in advance if you are arriving by bus to Oak Hall, Virginia. We will arrange a ride for you.

 

Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

None - Car Required
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Travel Time:

 

1.25 

   

We recommend renting a car ahead of time for the week. As there is no public transportation at all in Chincoteague, participants would otherwise be confined to the downtown shopping area during downtime. Avis, Enterprise and Hertz rentals have desks and cars at the airport. Avis: (410) 742-8566 Enterprise: (410) 677-3810 Hertz: (410) 749-2235

 

Salisbury, MD

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Greyhound
phone: 800-231-2222
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$33.00 (not including taxi from airport)
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1.3 

   

Bus station is a 5.2 mile ride from the airport by taxi. Gene's Taxi: (410) 749-8888 Bailey's Taxi: (410) 546-4025 International Taxi: (410) 548-1008 You will be traveling to the bus stop in Oak Hall, Va. Information is provided above about how to get from there to your final destination.

 

Salisbury MD ( Airport-Taxi-Greyhound Bus Station-Marine Science Consortium)

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Greyhound Bus Lines
phone: 800-231-2222
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$33.00 (not including taxi from airport)
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1.3 

   

From the Salisbury Regional Airport you can take the Greyhound Bus to the program. The bus station is a 7 mile ride from the airport by taxi. You will be traveling to the bus stop in OAK HALL, VA. Greyhound Station Address 350 CYPRESS ST Salisbury, MD 21801 IMPORTANT: Tickets are NOT sold at the location in Salisbury. You may get tickets by mail for trips departing from Salisbury if you buy at least two weeks in advance. Tickets may be purchased on Greyhound.com or by calling 1-800-231-2222.

 

Norfolk International Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

None - Car Required
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Price of rental + $12.00 toll for Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2.3 

   

We recommend renting a car ahead of time for the week. As there is no public transportation at all in Chincoteague, participants would otherwise be confined to the downtown shopping area during downtime. The following companies have cars and desks at the airport: Alamo (800) 462-5266 Avis (800) 831-2847 Budget (800) 527-0700 Dollar (800) 800-3665 Enterprise (800) 736-8222 Hertz (800) 654-3131 National (800) 227-7368 Thrifty (800) 367-2277

 

Salisbury Regional Airport to Greyhound Station

 

To Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Taxi Service
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Travel Time:

 

15 min ride from Airport to the Greyhound Station 

 

Distance:

 

7.5 Miles

   

Gene's Taxi: (410) 749-8888 Bailey's Taxi: (410) 546-4025 International Taxi: (410) 548-1008

 

Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Travel Time:

 

1.25 

   

Costs include both the arrival and return trips. Gene's Taxi: (410) 749-8888 Cost: $206 Bailey's Taxi: (410) 546-4025 Cost: $199 cash $239 credit

 

From Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport to The Chincoteague Bay Field Station

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
Chincoteague Bay Field Station
phone: 757-824-5636
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Shuttle cost: $25.00/one way and $45.00/round trip.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1.5 

 

Distance:

 

45 miles

   

The CBFS offers limited Airport shuttle service on the first/last day of programs. On the first day the shuttle departs the airport at 1 pm and arrives at the CBFS by 2:30 pm. On the last day the shuttle departs the CBFS at 1 pm and arrives at the airport by 3:30 pm. Because shuttle service is limited and air travel unpredictable we advise scheduling your flight to arrive well in advance and to depart well after the scheduled shuttle times. Call at least 4 weeks in advance for reservations.

 
Driving Directions
  VA Rt 13 Follow Route 13 (Lankford Highway) to the traffic light at VA 175 (T’s Corner and Chincoteague Road). This is about 4 miles south of the MD-VA border on the Delmarva Peninsula. Take VA 175 E for approximately 3 miles. At the traffic light take a left onto Atlantic Road. At the end of Atlantic Road (approx. 0.5 miles) bear left onto Mill Dam Road. The Chincoteague Bay Field Station is located on your right. Turn right onto Enterprise Street (the right after the Chincoteague Bay Field Station sign), then make an immediate left. Check in will be at the Education Center.
Elevation Note: Sea level

Equipment Requirements: Our programs run rain or shine, bring rain gear. Bring binoculars (and spotting scope if you have one). Bird identification book. Insect repellent and sun screen.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival and Welcome/Orientation/Social Hour
(Sunday, February 9)
   
 Afternoon: Check in with your instructor in the Education Center from 3 - 5 PM. Welcome to the program, group introductions and orientation.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served in the MSC cafeteria. Our dining staff will prepare and serve your meal cafeteria style, with options ranging from a hot meal to a diverse salad bar.
 Evening: Getting to know each other, program overview and an introduction to birding.
   
Accommodations: Chincoteague Bay Field Station
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Assateague National Seashore/ Service Road Tour
(Monday, February 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be served will be in the MSC Cafeteria from 7:30-8:30 AM. Each day will present an array of fruits, hot and cold cereals, meats, breads/biscuits, eggs or pancakes for your choosing.
 Morning: The road to Assateague National Seashore is bordered by a multitude of freshwater and saltwater wetlands, each with its own list of avian inhabitants. Look for waterfowl, osprey, eagles, herons and egrets among others.
 Lunch: Lunch will be eaten on Chincoteague island at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Take a trip into Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge's restricted back country. The shallow pools that we find there are managed to provide food and rest for migratory waterfowl. Also keep an eye out for some wild ponies!
 Dinner: Get ready for a seafood feast! Sample local crabs and shrimp or if you choose, grilled chicken, or portabello mushrooms.
 Evening: We will begin each evening with a review of the birds that we encountered during the day. On this evening, we will follow with an area bird bander presenting some of his photos and sharing his knowledge.
   
Accommodations: Chincoteague Bay Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Kiptopeke State Park
(Tuesday, February 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be a tailgate breakfast served in the field.
 Morning: We will venture down the Eastern shore to Kiptopeke State Park, which sits on the southern tip. Kiptopeke provides excellent wildlife viewing in a unique and interesting habitat. Without question, this is one of the finest sites in the Americas to view migrating birds of prey, especially from a handicap accessible elevated platform. A raptor banding station is also in operation at the park during migrations. The annual hawk watch counts in excess of 70,000 raptors. Songbird migrations in spring and fall also produce large numbers of wood warblers, and the total species list for the park exceeds 300 birds.
 Lunch: We will be having lunch out.
 Afternoon: We will be spending our afternoon in Kiptopeke State Park.
 Dinner: Dinner will be in the MSC cafeteria.
 Evening: Review of the bird species encountered during the day. Then we will have a lecture on barrier islands: the natural history, importance and future of these unique ecosystems. Gain an understanding of how birds play in integral part of this biological community.
   
Accommodations: Chincoteague Bay Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Birding by boat/ Free Afternoon/ Lecture
(Wednesday, February 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be in the MSC cafeteria.
 Morning: Climb aboard one of our research vessels and visit the very estuary that makes the Atlantic Flyway such a popular route for migratory birds. Look for eagles, hawks, osprey, waterfowl, wading birds and shore birds.
 Morning: Optional early morning birding walk on a path through one of Assateague's managed wetlands.
 Lunch: Lunch will be in the MSC cafeteria.
 Afternoon: This is a free afternoon to visit some of the local sites, explore the town of Chincoteague, walk the trails of the Wildlife Refuge, do some birding on your own, fish, shop, or just relax on our pristine beach!
 Dinner: Dinner will be in the MSC cafeteria.
 Evening: Speaker
   
Accommodations: Chincoteague Bay Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Pocomoke River/ Ward Museum/ Live Musical Performance
(Thursday, February 13)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be in the MSC cafeteria.
 Morning: Day trip to Pocomoke State park. Explore one of the northernmost cypress swamps alongside one of the Maryland's scenic rivers.
 Lunch: Lunch will be a grill out in the field.
 Afternoon: Visit the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art! In the heart of the Atlantic Flyway, the Museum features the world's largest public collection of Waterfowl Art.
 Dinner: Seafood Feast! We will go out to a local resturant to sample some of our local fare.
 Evening: This evening we will have a wonderful performance by a local musical group !
   
Accommodations: Chincoteague Bay Field Station
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Restricted Wallops Island Visit/ Check Out
(Friday, February 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be in the MSC Cafeteria.
 Morning: Head out to Wallops Island to explore their well-preserved dune systems and untouched shore.
 Lunch: Lunch will be in the MSC Cafeteria.
 Afternoon: Check out with your instructor.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore: From the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras


Author: Kenneth L. Gosner


Description: More than 1,000 illustrations, arranged according to visual similarities, show plant and animal species of the Atlantic Coast from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras. This guide includes information on how to locate each species by geographic range, tidal range, tidal level, season, topography, and climate.



Atlantic Shorelines: Natural History and Ecology


Author: Mark D. Bertness


Description: Atlantic Shorelines is an introduction to the natural history and ecology of shoreline communities on the East Coast of North America. Writing for a broad audience, Mark Bertness examines how distinctive communities of plants and animals are generated on rocky shores and in salt marshes, mangroves, and soft sediment beaches on Atlantic shorelines. The book provides a comprehensive background for understanding the basic principles of intertidal ecology and the unique conditions faced by intertidal organisms. It describes the history of the Atlantic Coast, tides, and near-shore oceanographic processes that influence shoreline organisms; explains primary production in shoreline systems, intertidal food webs, and the way intertidal organisms survive; sets out the unusual reproductive challenges of living in an intertidal habitat, and the role of recruitment in shaping intertidal communities; and outlines how biological processes like competition, predation, facilitation, and ecosystem engineering generate the spatial structure of intertidal communities. The last part of the book focuses on the ecology of the three main shoreline habitats--rocky shores, soft sediment beaches, and shorelines vegetated with salt marsh plants and mangroves--and discusses in detail conservation issues associated with each of them.



Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay


Author: William W. Warner


Description: William Warner exhibits his skill as a naturalist and as a writer in this Pulitzer Prize-winning study of the pugnacious Atlantic blue crab and of its Chesapeake Bay territory. This wonderful work contains all you ever wanted to know about the life cycle of one particular kind of crab that lives in Chesapeake Bay (the kind you probably smashed with mallets if you ever went to that area). Surprisingly, for most of its life, the Atlantic blue crab has nothing to do with beer. Taking it for a focus, Warner draws connections with the sea, the rivers, the crab-friendly environment that produced such a wealth of the creatures, and then the people who live from that wealth, the islanders who lived isolated for centuries, but are now firmly within the web of modern life. Warner tells of the marketing of crabs, the catching of other Chesapeake products like oysters, and even of festivals like a Miss Crustacean contest ! You can learn about esoterica like crab pots, the Waterman's Union, the religious heritage of crabbers, and lots more.



Life and Death of the Salt Marsh


Author: Mildred and John Teal


Description: Life and Death of the Salt Marsh is a book that focuses on many aspects of the ecology of the salt marsh. To quote the authors, it is "about the marshes of the East Coast of North America: how they were formed; why they continue to exist; the interplay of plants and animals; and the effect of that influential animal, man." This book does a very thorough job of covering all these topics. It begins with the story of one particular salt marsh, how it formed, what happened to it when colonists first arrived and used it for hay production, and its eventual death after human impact became so great as to prevent marsh recovery. The remainder of the book gives detailed descriptions of the processes and organisms that affect the salt marsh. These include the geology, history of glaciation, plant and animal species, seasons, and topics relating to marsh pollution and conservation. Considering that this book was written in 1969, thirty years ago, it still seems to have good scientific accuracy. It is interesting to look at this book from a historical perspective, especially the sections on conservation. Preservation of marshes is important for many reasons. The main reason for preservation being that a large variety of species rely on salt marshes during part or all of their life cycle. Many of these species are commercially viable and are (or were when the book was written) important to the East Coast economy. The chapter on pollution control was very interesting. It includes discussion of the use of DDT. Most ecologist today have heard of or read Silent Spring and know about the dangers of DDT. Life and Death of the Salt Marsh was written just before Silent Spring, by Janet Carson, and brings up the many dangers and harmful side effects of DDT. Obvious DDT was an area of concern for many people in fields related to ecology in the late 60's. The entire book could be related to many aspects of ecology and is thus relevant to anyone interested in the ecology of salt marshes.



The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America


Author: David Allen Sibley and Rick Cech


Description: Providing birders the convenience of portability, Sibley's newest volume breaks down the information in The Sibley Guide to Birds into specific regions (The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America will be published the same month). The guide includes much of the basic information in the Guide to Birds, such as the parts of a bird and general color-coded maps, but focuses most of its attention on birds who make their home east of the Rocky Mountains, such as the Double-crested Cormorant and the Eastern Screech-Owl. The color-coded maps that accompany each bird show where the birds live throughout North America, so that birders in, say, Pennsylvania, will know to look for the Northern Mockingbird in California as well. And, of course, Sibley's beautiful full-colored paintings of birds jump out at every page-even in small format.





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