"Protecting Wildlife Through Field Research, Education and Habitat Conservation For 25 Years"
We are excited about our 25th Anniversary logo by Megan Massa, 2019 Bird of the Year artist for the American Birding Association, ABA. The stunning artwork celebrates CVWO's 25 years of wildlife research. The Peregrine Falcon, Monarch butterfly, and Prothonotary Warbler represent a few of our research projects. Read about the new logo and meet Megan in our newsroom.
October 2019
A Word from the Prez!

The Kiptopeke Challenge September 28 was a great success! Thanks to KC Coordinator Dave Youker for organizing and recruiting 10 teams including three youth teams and a team of birders at Dyke Marsh in Northern Virginia. Good work, all!

The 2019 Kiptopeke Challenge will be remembered for a long time for the Northern Wheatear seen by all teams on Seaside Road near Machipongo. Not often is such a rarity on team lists and added to the KC cumulative list.

The birding highlights are below as well several team accounts of their “challenging” day and team photos.

CVWO’s Board and I cannot overstate our appreciation for the birders, donors, and supporters who made this year’s event so successful. Team donations are still coming in, but our fundraising total will be north of $10,000. THANK YOU for showing your confidence in CVWO with your financial support. Your donations go to work immediately to support the biologists and educator on the Eastern Shore this fall.

Thank you,
CVWO President

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25th Kiptopeke Challenge Results!
By Dave Youker, Kiptopeke Challenge Coordinator

Here are the results of the 2019 Kiptopeke Challenge:

Total species seen by all teams was 154 which is two less than last year. There were 18 species seen by every team, but there were 29 species seen only by a single team. 

The composite list is here for your info. A yellow highlight indicates species seen by only one team, and red indicates a new bird seen during this 25th year of the KC... Northern Wheatear (in above photo as seen on Challenge Day along Seaside Road). Photo by Nancy Barnhart.

Category Winners:
  • 24-hour: C'ville Ceruleans (Baxter Beamer, Tucker Beamer, Max Nootbaar) Species: 114
  • 3-hour: Hampton Roads Bird Club (Andy Hawkins, James Abbott, Stuart Sweetman) Species: 61
  • Special Venue: Piping Platformers (Anna Stunkel, Meagan Murante, Michael Ferrara, Jim Flynn, Marissa Benavente, Kevin McGann) Species: 61
  • Youth Team: C'ville Ceruleans (Baxter Beamer, Tucker Beamer, Max Nootbar) Species: 114

Check out all the teams' photos and accounts below.

Donations are still coming in. We'll announce the winner of the Piping Plover award for the most funds raised after October 31. You still have time to donate to a team here .

Many thanks to the birders and their supporters and donors.
The C'ville Ceruleans win the 24-hour category with 114 species
These teens from the Charlottesville area also won in the Youth Category.

The C'ville Ceruleans found seven species not seen by other teams on the Eastern Shore: Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Broad-winged Hawk, Philadelphia Vireo, Northern Waterthrush, Cape May Warbler, and Prairie Warbler. Way to go and congratulations!
Above: Baxter Beamer, Max Nootbaar, and Tucker Beamer at Sunset Beach early September 28
Hampton Roads Bird Club team takes honors in the Three-hour category
By Andy Hawkins

James Abbott, Stuart Sweetman and I birded Hog Island in Surry County in the 3-hour Challenge and successfully defended our efforts from last year with 61 species. We worked the main road first, looking for passerines and then used our bikes to reach the back parts of Hog searching for shore birds. 61 species in three hours beat our record of 55 species last year and again won our division.
Left to right: Stuart Sweetman, Andy Hawkins, James Abbott - the only team on bikes
Piping Platformers tally 61 species to take the Special Venue category
Anna Stunkel, Megan Murante, and Michael Ferrara from the Piping Platformers team that tallied 61 species just from the Hawkwatch Platform at Kiptopeke State Park.

Per Anna, a few highlights from the platform included:

7 Cedar Waxwings
1 Caspian Tern
1 Solitary Sandpiper
1 Wilson's Snipe

In addition to hawks and raptors they counted six warblers including the day's only Wilson's Warbler.
"Team Turnstone" youth team comes in second in 24-hour category with 104 species
Left to Right: Conor Farrell, Ezra Staengl, and Theo Staengl

These teens were the only birders to find a Veery and a Summer Tanager on the Eastern Shore for the 2019 KC.
Wandering Whimbrels find 103 species
By Brian Taber

After doing the Kiptopeke Challenge in a Special Venue last year, Dave Youker and I returned to the 24-hour category, scouring the Eastern Shore. We were up before 5 and walked around Kiptopeke State Park, quickly hearing an Eastern Screech-Owl. At nearby Magotha Road, we heard more screeches and Great Horned Owls and had our best owl morning ever with 5 screeches and 3 Great Horneds! Read our complete report here .

Left to right: Dave Youker and Brian Taber
Laughing Falcons find 103 species
Laughing Falcons are loyal participants in the Kiptopeke Challenge. Bob Ake, David Clark, Elisa Enders Flanders and Nick Flanders spent the day on the Eastern Shore too and found 103 species including these birds not found by other teams: Dunlin, Gull-billed Tern, White-eyed Vireo, and Baltimore Oriole. In photo, left to right: Nick Flanders, Elisa Enders Flanders, Bob Ake, and David Clark.
Gulls Gone Wild get 98 species
By Shirley Devan

We had 98 species and felt pleased to have that many after such a struggle all day to find warblers and shorebirds. Other teams reported the same problems. What a crazy list we had for the day – no Cattle Egret for us despite ponies easily observed all afternoon at Chincoteague. A Ruddy Duck and Blue-winged Teal but no Red-shouldered Hawk or Eastern Towhee. Nothing is a given – except perhaps a Great Black-backed Gull (or two!). That’s why it’s called the Kiptopeke CHALLENGE ! Read a full account of our day here . PS: Gulls were voted "best accessorized" with their team backpacks seen in photo on right. Left to right: Jan Lockwood, Barbara Neis, Nancy Barnhart, Sue Mutell, Shirley Devan
Team Amazing Diving Mallards & Duckling 
Paul Nasca re finds the Northern Wheatear for the rest of the teams!
Paul Nasca, his wife Heidi, and their infant son joined in for the 24-hour category at the last minute (the night before!) And thank goodness they did! About 11:45 Saturday morning on Route 600 (Seaside Road), they rediscovered the rare Northern Wheatear last seen two days before. Paul alerted Virginia Birders via the VA-Bird List-serve with this email:  “While on the Kiptopeke Challenge, we are currently viewing a Norther Wheatear on Seaside Road just south of Machipongo Dr. He is perching cooperatively on orchard crates marked Quail Cove on the west side of the road.” Most teams stopped what they were doing and raced to the "orchard crates."

Thanks Paul and Heidi…and the duckling.
Dyke Marsh Birders join the Kiptopeke Challenge for the first time
Dyke Marsh Birders above, left to right: Ed Eder, Larry Meade, Larry Cartwright, and Deapesh Misra.

In three hours, the Dyke Marsh Birders found 41 species including the only Chestnut-sided Warbler and White-breasted Nuthatch among the KC teams for the day.
By Deapesh Misra

Today the team “Dyke Marsh Birders” had a lot of fun birding even though it was a completely overcast day here in Alexandria, VA.

Our best bird was the unexpected Marsh Wren which was vocalizing at the end of the boardwalk in Dyke Marsh.

The completely overcast morning also meant that we missed the vultures. 

I hope we also get super-bonus points for talking with the curious general public while birding :)

One curious lady mustered courage to ask what we were looking at. We explained about the KC and welcomed her to join the local birding club. She said that she will join the local bird walk tomorrow !

Other members of the public and a NPS ranger now are aware of the annual KC. 

I particularly enjoyed the esteemed company of my fellow birders who are excellent naturalists. So while “warbler neck” was an issue, the “bending low posture” to observe butterflies compensated a little bit.
Scattered Scoters and their chauffer
The Scoters tallied 80 species in their first Kiptopeke Challenge
Ira Lianez and Seth Kellogg and their driver, Ira's dad! Photo taken at Sunset Beach early Saturday morning.

Get your copy now – "Riding the Wind: A Birder's Ups and Downs"
Do you have your copy of Riding the Wind? Order your copy today. Use your credit card through our PayPal account to purchase or email Nancy Barnhart to let her know you want one…or two!

Riding the Wind is a book of essays by CVWO President Brian Taber about birds, birding, and conservation, several of which were previously published. Cover art by our hawkwatcher Anna Stunkel and 20 illustrations by award-winning artist Julie Zickefoose.

For a donation of $20.00 per book (plus $5.00 shipping & handling) Nancy will mail a copy out to you. If you live in the Williamsburg area, you can save shipping and handling by visiting Backyard Birder at 1490 Quarterpath Road, or Wild Birds Unlimited, 4625 Casey Blvd, Suite 300.

You can also get a copy from Buteo books .
You can support CVWO just by shopping at AmazonSmile
It's same Amazon you know and love. Start at www.smile.amazon.com. Log in as you always do and then look for Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory in their list of charities. Amazon donates a small portion of your purchases to CVWO! Easy as that! And thanks!
Order your CVWO Merchandise with Our Colorful 25th Anniversary Artwork
Now you can show your support for CVWO with your tote bag, coffee mug, water bottle, or t-shirt! A small portion of each purchase comes back to CVWO to support our efforts.

Click over to CVWO's store on Cafe Press to see what else is available and the cost. No tax but there is a nominal shipping fee.

CVWO Has A New Website!
Visit and Share CVWO's New Website!

You'll find information on raptor, butterfly, songbird and waterbird research as well as beautiful photos and rich stories from the field!

And don't forget to support our nonprofit work with your tax-deductible donation!
CVWO's Blog Is Hopping!
Megan Murante. Photo by S Devan

Now that fall migration has begun, look for Megan Murante's blog posts and photos on the CVWO website.