Assateague Island National Seashore

Royal Terns

Last week Ingrid and I visited my baby sister and her husband at their vacation home in Delaware.  It was a wonderful trip and including a Halloween costume parade and contest which we won!!!

One of the highlights was a trip to the Maryland side of the Assateague Island National Seashore. Assateague Island is a 37 mile long barrier island kept in its natural state (other than the usual National Park access roads and facilities).

Birds were everywhere, including an estimated 400+ Yellow-rumped Warblers, lots of Royal Terns and a nice variety of gulls.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Laughing, Herring, & Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gulls
Brown Pelicans

But the highlight was the wild ponies.

A population of 80-100 wild ponies roam the park.   Stunted over time by the less than nutritious beach grass, these are pony size.     Their population is controlled by birth control administered by dart guns.

No other veterinary care or food is provided as Maryland treats the ponies as wild animals.

On the Virginia side of the park (separated by a fence), the ponies are owned by a local fire department.  In Virginia, the animals are provided food, water and vet care.  They are herded every July and healthy ponies are auctioned off.

We saw four ponies right after we entered the park and found another feeding in a marshy area.

Lots of pony signs were visible throughout our visit so we had to watch our step.

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