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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CNWR Sunday Cycle

As on a recent cycle trip, we returned to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge for another weekend outing. Once again, the weather was perfect with just enough breeze to ward off any annoying skeeters.

We know this won't be true in another few weeks once hot and humid weather sets in and the drained marshlands become water-filled.  


The Glossy Ibis is recognized by its scarlet and iridescent green and found usually in wetlands on every continent except Antarctica. It uses its bill to probe in mud and silt looking for fiddler crabs, craw fish, insects and small snakes. It is a lightweight, large-footed relative of spoonbills with a long and curved bill to feel for prey and was once called the “Black Curlew.” 



The slender Snowy Egret is among the most elegant of the heron family. Its immaculate white plumage is set off with black legs and bright yellow feet, which play a role in stirring up or herding small aquatic animals as it forages. When breeding, they grow filmy, curving plumes that were once in great demand as decorations on women's hats and fetched astronomical prices. The species became endangered and early conservationists rallied to protect egrets which led to protective legislation in the early 1900s.


Snowy Egrets wade in shallow water to spear fish and other small aquatic animals and often use a sit-and-wait technique to capture their food, but more often are very animated, running back and forth through the water, searching for fish, insects and small reptilesThey concentrate on mudflats, beaches, and wetlands, but also can be seen in wet agricultural fields and along the edges of rivers and lakes. 


Although related, the elegant Great Egret is smaller than a Great Blue Heron. This large bird is about 3-feet tall with a wingspan of over 5 feet. Its feathers are white; it has a long, sharp yellow bill and long gray to black legs with non-webbed feet. Males are larger, but the sexes look alike. The Great Egret hunts in classic heron fashion, standing immobile or wading through wetlands to spear fish with a jab of its bill. Like the Snowy Egret, it was hunted almost to extinction for its feathers and is now the symbol of the National Audubon Society. This North American environmental organization was founded to protect birds from being killed for their plumage.



Mallards are the forerunners of most breeds of domestic ducks, and among the most familiar ducks. These are “dabbling ducks” and almost never dive. They feed in the water by tipping forward and grazing on underwater plants. Their body is long and the tail rides high out of the water. In flight their wings are broad and set back toward the rear. They can be very tame especially in city ponds, and often group together with other species of dabbling ducks. Males have a dark, iridescent-green head and bright yellow bill. Females and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-and-brown bills.


We saw this grey squirrel and many Red-Winged Blackbirds, which are a familiar sight atop cattails in the marsh areas. Glossy-black males have scarlet and yellow shoulder patches; females are a subdued brown color. 

Hhere we are taking a break from yet another biking adventure. While we are not long-distance cyclists by any means, we enjoy these weekend outings.

14 comments:

gigihawaii said...

Beautiful photos!
You look happy.

Sandra said...

beautiful spot and lots of pretty wildlife makes for the perfect photo op

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Hi Dorothy!
I had No Idea Snowy Egrets have Rubber-Ducky-Yellow feet! How cool.
Not ignoring your queries re: Skype, etc. Just so-o-o far behind on everything -even thinking!- after being ill the entire month of April. I'll get there eventually.

thecottagebythecranelaketwo said...

Wonderful photos!

Every now and again an Ibis gets lost and flies to Sweden too but not especially often, Egrets are so beautiful but they don't even come close to this country.

Have a great day!
Christer.

A Quiet Corner said...

Good for you...a great way to see the outdoors!...:)JP

Montanagirl said...

Informative post, and nice photos! Just tried to FT you.

Daisy said...

Sounds like it was a fun trip. Glad you had nice weather for it. Great photos!

Elaine said...

Lovely set of collages! Looks like you had a wonderful day.

Gail Dixon said...

What fun! I agree with you that the snowy egret is an elegant bird. I've always thought so. Beautiful photos and great selfie. :)

Anvilcloud said...

You sure make the most of your outings.

William Kendall said...

Beautiful shots!

This time of year the blackbirds are particularly fierce when people pass their nests.

Michelle said...

You really captured some nice shots on this outing. I do like the Snowy Egret.

Emma Springfield said...

Lovely pictures. You have had good subjects so far. I am seeing a lot of red-winged blackbirds this year. They were my mother's favorite.

Out on the prairie said...

what a nice selection, nice to have this area close

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