The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Assateague Island MD’

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 3: Egrets and More

After our bicycle ride on the Wildlife Loop at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we went for a drive along Beach Access Road, stopping for wildlife photo opportunities.

Snowy Egret

Yellow Feet

Snowy Egret, Taking Flight

Snowy Egret, Taking Flight

Godwit

Snowy Egret

Egret

Snowy Egret (top) and Great Egret (bottom)

Thank you, EileeninMD, for the bird ID.

Around noon we decided to drive to Assateague Island, MD.  Along the way, we stopped at a deli and picked up cold cut sandwiches, cookies and honey roasted nuts.  We ate a picnic lunch at a picnic table, located in a pavilion, along the Assateague Island National Seashore.  After lunch we walked to the seashore. 

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

We drove along the Stephen Decatur Memorial Road / Bayberry Drive, as well as side roads, and didn’t see any horses.  We didn’t walk any trails.  Last year, when we visited Assateague Island, MD for the first time, we did see horses and we did walk the trails.  Here are links from last year’s visit:

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD
This blog post shows the route that we took last year from Virginia to Maryland. We took the same route this year.

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Dunes Trail

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Forest Trail

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Marsh Trail

We had planned to make a return trip to Assateague Island, MD during vacation, but that return visit never happened.

 

On our way back to Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental, we stopped at Food Lion and picked up a couple items for dinner.  Our dinner was leftover chicken and naked chicken wings, leftover coleslaw, potato salad and, for dessert, more cheesecake.

It rained in the evening, accompanied by thunder and lightning.  We saw a high temperature of 81 degrees.  The rest of the week was cooler and dry.  By the way it did not feel like 81 degrees, while we were at Assateague Island, MD.  I wore a hoodie, with the hood up, and was still cold!  The wind was brutal.

We watched three episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed.

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Forest Trail

The Life of the Forest trail is about a mile north of the dune trail back up Bayberry Drive.  There was a sign on Bayberry Drive directing us to the Life of the Forest trail head.

Most of the Life of the Forest Trail, once a loop, was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, so the National Park Service built a new out-and-back trail.  The length of the trail is 0.4 mile round trip.

The trail does go through a forest, but the forest doesn’t seem to be the main emphasis of the trail.

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Near the start of the Life of the Forest trail

Most of the trail is a boardwalk. Once out of the forest, the boardwalk overlooks a salt marsh and Sinepuxtent Bay.

20180331_152137487_iOSLife of the Forest trail Boardwalk

There are a number of viewing platforms built into the new boardwalk.

20180331_152229137_iOSSalt Marsh

_LG25663This Great Blue Heron seemed to have the run of the place.

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The boardwalk overlooks Sinepuxtent Bay.

20180331_153652310_iOSBob and I on the Life of the Forest boardwalk trail

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Dunes Trail

In yesterday’s blog post I wrote that we hiked three nature trails, while visiting the Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland District).  The three hiking trails are: Life of the Dunes trail, Life of the Forest trail and Life of the Marsh trail.  In today’s blog post I will share photographs taken, while hiking the Life of the Dunes trail.

The Life of the Dunes trail is located at the end of Bayberry Drive, about three miles south of the Verrazano Bridge.

_LG25646Sign at Trail Head

The loop trail is of a 3/4 mile duration  The loop portion starts a short distance from the trail head.  We hiked clockwise around the trail.

The Life of the Dunes trail is made of sand and sand can change.  There are no confusing intersections or unmarked side trails; however, there are points where the path may be questionable.

_LG25647 Do you see the wooden fencing in the photograph displayed above?  The path was questionable at one point.  We just followed the wooden fencing along portions of the trail or followed directional markers. Also, there are numbered markers (see the #1 marker?) along the trail that correspond to a trail guide, which we did not have. I learned subsequent to our visit that a trail guide is available for purchase at the visitors center or can be downloaded here.  Pertaining to the first marker the trail guide reads: “In the desertlike conditions of the dunelands most animal activity other than birds is nocturnal. Search for tracks in early morning before the breezes have had time to obscure them. Look for a doodlebug’s (antlion larva) winding trail through the surface sand, a red fox’s dainty doglike pawprints in a fairly straight line or a boat-tailed grackle’s many wandering tracks.”

_LG25648This sign says to stay on the trail.

_LG25650Nature’s Artwork

There is a historic aspect of the Life of the Dunes Trail. In the 1950s developers built a 15-mile road here that extended to the Maryland/Virginia State line.  The road, named Baltimore Boulevard, was, at the time, the only paved road on Assateague Island.  Developers had also cleared land for more than 130 side streets along Baltimore Boulevard.  Baltimore Boulevard was destroyed by a storm in 1962.

_LG25652Pieces of Baltimore Boulevard

_LG25653You can walk on the asphalt or to the side of it.

Many people questioned the wisdom of 9,000 building lots on Assateague Island, after the March 1962 storm.  This great northeaster was the single most important event which led to creation of the national seashore in 1965.

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The Thicket

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Southern Red Oak

MVIMG_20180331_104124Linda sitting in the southern red oak tree
(photo by Bob)

Pertaining to the 12th marker, the trail guide reads “Exposure to salt-laden ocean winds has caused this southern red oak to adapt. Notice its short thick trunk and low spreading branches.  As seasons pass, fallen leaves accumulate and gradually decay adding organic matter and moisture to the sandy soil. The old oak has created a more hospitable environment for plants and provides acorns for white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, grackle, towhee, and brown thrasher.

Before leaving the southernmost portion of Bayberry Drive, we walked over to the South Ocean Beach.

_LG25660South Ocean Beach

At the South Ocean Beach there is parking, swimming (no lifeguards), fishing, restrooms/outdoor shower and limited wheelchair access.

In my next blog post, I will take you along as we hike the Life of the Forest trail.

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD

Located on the East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is the largest, natural barrier island ecosystem in the Middle Atlantic states region that remains predominantly unaffected by human development. The Virginia portion of the island is designated as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the exception of 448 acres in the refuge’s Toms Cove area maintained by the National Park Service.  These 448 acres are part of the Assateague Island National Seashore.  The The Assateague State Park and the Assateague Island National Seashore are located on Assateague Island, MD.

This year marks our fourth visit to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Island National Seashore, located on Assateague Island, VA.  We visited the Virginia portion of Assateague Island previously in 2011, 2015 and 2016.  We had never visited Assateague Island, MD.  That fact changed this year.

In my previous blog post it appeared that Saturday, March 31st, was a very lazy day.  It wasn’t.  Leaving Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we decided to visit Assateague Island, MD.  There are two entrances to Assateague Island. The island’s south entrance is at the end of Route 175, two miles east of Chincoteague, VA.  The north entrance is at the end of Route 611, eight miles south of Ocean City, MD. There is no vehicle access between the two entrances on Assateague Island. Vehicles must return to the mainland to access either the north or south entrance.

It was a pleasant drive from the southern portion of Assateague Island to its northern end.

Our first stop in Maryland was at the Assateague Island Visitor Center.  The visitor center is located on the right-hand side of Route 611, before the bridge that takes you onto Assateague Island.  Inside the visitor center you will find information on Assateague Island, aquariums, a touch tank, a variety of exhibits and a small gift shop.  We didn’t spend a lot of time in the visitor center.  We looked at the fish in the aquariums.

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This is a Sheepshead Fish.

Admission to Assateague Island National Seashore is $20.00, which is good for multiple days AND good as well at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.  We didn’t have to pay the admission fee, as I purchased a National Park Service senior pass in February, when I turned 62 years old. On Friday at the Toms Cove Visitor Center in Virginia I added the first stamp to our Passport to Your National Parks.  I also purchased a page of souvenir stamps (1989 Stamp Series) at that location.   While at the Assateague Island Visitor Center in Maryland, Bob stamped our Passport to Your National Parks (our second passport stamp….YAY!), and we picked up a map of the Assateague Island National Seashore.

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Passport to Your National Parks

I wanted a passport that would last.  The Collector’s edition fit the requirement.  This passport edition, though, is very big.  It isn’t something that I would want to carry with us on the motorcycle.  I did see at the visitor center’s gift shop that a sheet of three blank passport stamps are available for purchase, wherein one can obtain the stamp and add it to the passport at a later time.

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Two parks checked off; lots more to see!

20180410_131405638_iOSOur second passport stamp and the 1989 Mid-Atlantic Regional Stamp affixed to page

In addition to the 1989 Mid-Atlantic Regional Stamp (Assateague Island National Seashore), the 1989 Stamp Series includes nine other stamps:  1989 North Atlantic Regional Stamp (Federal Hall National Memorial), the 1989 National Capital Regional Stamp (Thomas Jefferson Memorial), the 1989 Southeast Regional Stamp (Great Smoky Mountains National Park), the 1989 National Stamp (Yellowstone National Park), the 1989 Midwest Regional Stamp (Apostle Islands National Lakeshore), the 1989 Southwest Regional Stamp (Hot Springs National Park), the 1989 Rocky Mountain Regional Stamp (Arches National Park), the 1989 Western Regional Stamp (Great Basin National Park), and the 1989 Pacific Northwest & Alaska Stamp (Crater Lake National Park).  I wonder how many of these places we will see?  Well, we have the rest of our lives to visit these places.  We shall see ….

From the Visitor Center we drove over the Verrazano Bridge, turned right onto Stephen Decatur Memorial Road to Bayberry Drive. We saw our first wild horses of Assateague Island, while on Stephen Decatur Memorial Road.

_LG25635Wild Horses of Assateague Island

The wild horses of Assateague Island are descendents of domesticated animals brought to the island over 300 years ago.

_LG25633Assateague Island Wild Horse

I enjoyed the beauty of these horses from a safe distance, using a telescopic camera lens to get close.  Park rules state to enjoy the beauty of the horses from a distance.  Keeping at least a bus length from the horses is recommended.  The horses are wild.  They are known to charge, kick and bite.

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Assateague Island Wild Horse

_LG25642Assateague Island Wild Horse

_LG25639Assateague Island Wild Horse

Although it is possible to see the wild horses up close at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we saw more horses close up in Maryland than we have in Virginia.  (I will be sharing more wild horse pictures in future blog posts.)

_LG25645Entering the Assateague Island National Seashore

We spent approximately 3 1/2 hours exploring the Assateague Island National Seashore. We hiked three trails; we saw several more wild horses, close up and personal; and we saw the ocean.

Stay tuned,  I will be posting more Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland District) blog posts in the near future.

 

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