Yesterday, I drove through the Ocean City Inlet as is my habit when I have meetings on the island. Thanks to the off season, the Town of Ocean City does not charge parking fees at the inlet. You can zip in, take a look at the waves crashing on Assateague Island, check out the birds and be gone in a matter of minutes. I’m not the only one who has this habit. I saw the head of Ocean City Lifeguards stop by to walk his dog and gaze at the ocean. Many others do the same, including large numbers of birders with spotting scopes. Yesterday, however, I was the only car to make my way to the Ocean City inlet parking lot.
I passed the now deserted Oceanic Motel that stands sentinel to the opening of the Inlet. I’ve found that the parking lot of the Oceanic Motel is a great place to watch the birds that like to fish in the Inlet. Winter is the perfect time for birders to see our winter migratory species such as loons, scoters — two types, buffleheads, and most exciting for me, the Harlequin duck and the common Eider — lots of them. I’ve never seen either bird before so yesterday was a great day. I swung by there today to see if the density and diversity of the diving ducks and Eiders was as spectacular as yesterday. Unfortunately the large flotilla of birds diving and fighting and swimming around had dispersed to some degree. The same species were there, just not all clustered against the Ocean City inlet jetty.
If you like birding and you like unusual winter migratory sightings, then you should try the Ocean City Inlet. Bring your spotting scope and settle in for awhile to watch the birds. You can get great deals on hotel rooms at this time of year, so go to OceanCity.com’s Where to Stay page to find a great deal on Ocean City hotels, motels, and vacation rentals. If winter isn’t your thing, then wait until April when Worcester County and Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences (DLITE) host their annual birding weekend. It is always sold out and always spectacular so make sure you sign up early for this great event. Go to http://www.delmarvabirdingweekend.org to learn more about this event that is held April 22 – 25, 2010.
My camera didn’t have a good enough lens to capture the cool birds in the water, but the seagulls in the parking lot were close enough to capture. I think we’re all tired of winter, but these pictures will cool us off when summer returns to Ocean City and the Inlet parking lot is scorching and we’re wearing tank tops and shorts with our flip flops slapping against the sand. Have a great day.