Assateague Island

Return to Bird Island

July 10, 2019 featured a return paddle to Bird Island in the middle of the Sinepuxent Bay, MD. In 2018, we made this same trip on July 27th discovering nesting brown pelicans with babies. Launching from Old Ferry Landing in Assateague Island National Seashore, we hoped for more nesting pelicans this year.

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Heading out from Old Ferry Landing toward Great Egging Island. Paddling to the left, (south) of Great Egging Island our destination was two miles out in the bay.

Immediately, we spotted brown pelicans diving into the water hunting for food. This pelican activity continued throughout our paddle.

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A brown pelican hits the water hard in a quest for food
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Even from a mile away constant avian activity is apparent on Bird Island. The official name is South Point Spoils, and the island is posted and protected from landing during bird nesting season.
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Remaining well off shore still affords tremendous bird viewing.
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Circumnavigating the island we searched in vain for brown pelican nests. There were nearly four dozen adult pelicans but no babies. Either the pelicans fledged earlier this year, moved all nests to the interior of the island, or the pelicans gave up on this nesting site.
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This area appears to be an exclusive club for Great White Egrets. A telephoto lens was used for all photos, so we are farther offshore than the picture appears.
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The bird on the right in this photo is a bit mysterious. It may be an immature double-crested cormorant, but we appreciate any identification help from expert bird watchers.
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A squadron of cormorants watched our approach.
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Bird Island hosts a large number of great black-backed gulls. While brown pelican babies were not in evidence, we did see what appear to be gull progeny.
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Two baby gulls swimming in the water. They did not seem capable of flying, or even to swim very fast. A black-backed gull flew overhead angrily warning us off, so we steered clear of these little ones.
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This cute little guy was waddling along the shore. It appears to be an even younger black-backed gull, but we are not confident of this identification.
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One end of the island is a long sand bar loaded with brown pelicans. Some had mating plumage (brown and white) but others, while of adult size, seemed immature.
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Leaving Bird Island we paddled south east to Tingles Island viewing one of the famous Assateague ponies.
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Paddling North along the Assateague shoreline we stopped briefly at one of the paddle-in camp sites for a rest break. In the water at the camp site landing numerous minnows and blue crabs filled the water.
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We paddled down one long gut into the island and heard the roar of ocean waves on the East side of the island.
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This map shows our journey. We put in up North at way point 026 (Old Ferry Landing). We paddled southwest to Bird Island and then southeast to Tingles Island. The paddle-in campsite is at way point 170 and you can see the long gut we explored just north of there. Our trip ended back at Old Ferry Landing.

Put In: Old Ferry Landing in Assateague Island National Seashore. Stop at the visitor center to learn more about the unique history of Ferry Landing and Assateague Island.

Port a Potties in parking lot. Nice beach for launching, although on a Wednesday in July it was extremely crowded.

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