We're back from out semi-annual trip to Bombay Hook NWR, Delaware,
and Chincoteague, Va. What a great trip! The snow geese at both places
were more numerous than ever. If you don't know snow geese, please try
to find some. The snow-goose congregation is just about the most exciting
natural phenomenon I can imagine. In both places there were literally
thousands of birds. The sound is amazing - sort of a high-pitched roar.
Groups of birds take off, circle around, and settle back down - how do they
ever manage not to sit down on another goose. They are so close-packed
but they never seem to have a problem. Also at Bombay Hook, there was
an enormous number of ducks . The snow geese congregated in one area
and the ducks in another - real segregation. We didn't see as many different
species as some years, but the numbers of Mallards, PIn-Tails and Shovelers
was enornous. Lots of Coots, too.
But one of the thrills at Chincoteague was the two bald eagles we saw on
Sunday morning, and the two immature Black-Crowned Night Herons.
To keep this horticultural - On Thanksgiving weekend the 14-mile service
road on Assateague Island is open from noon to 3:00 PM. We always plan
to take this drive, but this year it was closed on Thanksgiving Day because
of the Nor'Easter that had come through. However, for years I have been
noticing and commenting on the fact that pines (Loblolly) and Bayberry are
the dominant species on the lower part of the island, but as you move
northward, Junipers begin to appear, and by the north end of the drive, there
are more Junipers than pines. I think I have mentioned in past years the
fact that some years ago there was a plague of pine-bark beetles that
devasted some of the lower part of the island. The administration made
a big deal out of planting a variety of trees and putting up many signs that
explained that the problem was a result of the "uniculture" of pines, and that
the planting of diverse trees would correct the problem. Of course, now it
is not possible to find any of the many diverse trees that had been planted,
but the pine forest has restored itself quite beautifully, with the seedling
trees not about 15-18 feet high and growing up to 18 inches a year.
Instead of turkey, we feasted on Crab Imperial. Not good for our
waistlines, but once a year...
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