Green heron along Sinepuxent Bay
Spring on the marsh and coastal bay side of Assateague Island is a time to see migrating birds passing through and breeding birds that will remain for the summer. This collection is just a sampling of species that can be seen in May and June.
One day in late May there were dozens of Ruddy Turnstones in full breeding plumage lining the shore. They were resting and feeding on their way to the Arctic to nest.
Ruddy Turnstone in breeding plumage
Ruddy Turnstone blends in with the coastal bay beach
Semipalmated sandpipers also stopped on their journey to the upper reaches of Canada.
In contrast, the Willets, one of the largest members of the sandpiper family, will nest on Assateague. A perched Willet looks drab, but in flight Willets show striking wing bars and their noisy pip-pip-pip call is distinctive.
Willet surveys marsh from boardwalk railing
Among wading birds, the Great Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons and Great Egrets declined to pose for photos. But this Snowy Egret was accommodating. The Snowy is easy to identify by its big, yellow feet.
Among water fowl were Bufflehead and Common Loons. The loon in transitional plumage was tricky to identify.
Common Loon transitional plumage
The winner of the cutest waterbird award is this female Bufflehead.
And for those hoping to spot Assateague wild ponies…
Assateague ponies with Buffleheads