About Birding Eastern Shore
Almost every birder who comes to the Eastern Shore of Virginia has a general idea of what they would most like to do or most like to see. Many birders enjoy the unpredictable migration seasons, when just about any of the 439 species recorded here might show up. Others are keen to see specialty birds such as Saltmarsh Sparrow. And still others are looking for a prize—perhaps a species never seen before, or never before in Virginia. The rarest birds, the ones so off course they’re called “vagrants,” tend to appear most often in the places that concentrate many other birds. The Eastern Shore is such a place. Despite very little birding coverage over the decades, the Shore has shown with even modest attention that it ranks among the prolific birding venues in the East, on par with capes that have much greater renown.
Access to some good birding locations is tricky. This website will give you the inside scoop on how to get there—safely and legally. In some places, there are those dreaded insects. This website will provide candid information on what they are and how to minimize their dining opportunities. Many birders would like to understand the how, where, and why of looking for rarer species of birds, including vagrants. This website offers the latest thinking, from many veteran sources. For fans of migration, weather conditions are often the make-or-break factor in a big flight day. This website spells out what researchers and locals have learned about these relationships. And for those who want to see marsh birds and shorebirds, either from land or by boat, a knowledge of how tides affect the rhythms of their lives—and what factors influence tide levels—is vital. This website has you covered.
The site descriptions here assume that you have binoculars, a field guide to birds, possibly a spotting scope and camera, and that you are familiar with social media, including Project eBird. The descriptions of places cover only the birds that, over the years, seem to be of greatest interest to visiting birders. Carolina Wren, Blue Jay, European Starling, and Red-tailed Hawk, wonderful though they are, do not appear in these accounts, as they are widespread in the East and probably are not the motivation for your visit here.
This website is a work in progress. Our hope is to see more people coming to the Eastern Shore to enjoy its birds and wildlife and also its cuisine, wines, and down-to-earth culture. Life here has changed relatively little in the past 400 years, and many of the habitats you will visit are still pristine, or nearly so. So do come see us for the birds, and take home memories of a quiet corner of earth where the residents truly value your visit.