This trip was the perfect way for us to dispel our pandemic blues! We re-connected with old friends from earlier Wild Latitudes trips and made new ones. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed getting together to look for new birds and to take in some of the best birding sites on the East Coast. As East Coasters ourselves, we got a thrill from sharing treasures in our “back yard.”
- The birding was excellent. We saw a total of 138 different species, including many new birds for West Coast birders, such as Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Eastern Bluebirds, Tufted Titmice, and Gray Catbirds. We were very fortunate to have the services of our excellent bird guide Chris Payne.
- Warblers abounded: 23 species in all. We got a target bird on the very last day in Cape May: the Cape May Warbler! We also had outstanding looks at many other warblers, most notably Blackburnian, Yellow, Black & White, Prairie, Yellow-Throated, Black-Throated Blue, and Black-Throated Green. We also saw American Redstarts and Ovenbirds.
- Staying in historic inns was a treat. In Cape May we stayed right next to the Atlantic Ocean and the beach. The inn was filled with antiques and the service was excellent. It was within walking distance of the Victorian “gingerbread houses,” for which Cape May is famous, as well as its pedestrian shopping area. Near Assateague National Seashore, we stayed in a quaint inn in the small town of Berlin, MD.
- The food was outstanding. West Coasters had many chances to sample our traditional mid-Atlantic seafood, including Chesapeake Blue Crabs and oysters. The crab cakes were to die for! The dining opportunities ranged from gourmet in Berlin, outdoor seating next to a marina, and Southern comfort food at the famous “Miss Shirley’s” in Baltimore (John had his first chicken and waffles there on this trip).
- And it was not all about the birds. Everyone who went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore found it extremely worthwhile. Then there were the wild ponies on Assateague Island. We did not think we would get a close look, and then something magical happened: a family consisting of a stallion, a mare, and a colt emerged from the foliage and walked right through our group, passing within inches. What an unexpected joy!
Super thanks to Steve for extending the reach of Wild Latitudes to the East Coast. We hope it is the first of many.