The Saturday after Thanksgiving 2011, Jane and I went with a couple of friends to Chincoteague and Assateague, two Atlantic Ocean barrier islands off the coast of Virginia at the Maryland line. In fact, part of Assateague is in Maryland, though you have to leave Maryland to drive to it.
We went because it was supposed to be the height of the autumn bird migration. Indeed, this time of year is usually so good for birding that the wildlife refuge on Assateague opens a long back road to the public -- the only day of the year it does this -- to accommodate the crowds of people with expensive cameras, tripods, telescopes and binoculars.
But this fall is not like other falls. It's been a lot warmer and the birds are late. So we saw many of the same sorts of birds -- egrets, herons, bald eagles, mallards, black ducks -- that we see at home by the Chesapeake Bay. We did see a few of the wild ponies that have been famous ever since the 1947 publication of the book "Misty of Chincoteague." The lack of fowl did not mean the cameras weren't used. Lots of birds or few birds, Assateague is a beautiful place.