Grab your binoculars, guide books, and checklists- Delmarva Birding Weekend returns for the 20th year, April 23-26, to celebrate the spring migration of thousands of birds. Delmarva Birding Weekend is organized by Worcester County Tourism and gives bird watchers and bird lovers from across the region the chance to observe and identify waterfowl, shorebirds, warblers, raptors, and dozens of other bird species while participating in guided foot tours, boat trips, and kayak excursions around Assateague Island and other scenic locations across Delmarva.
Because of its position directly along the Atlantic Flyway, proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake, and coastal bays, and plethora of barrier islands, marsh and wetlands, cypress swamps, open fields and farmland, and primeval forests, the Delmarva Peninsula possesses a wide range of habitats and ecosystems that attract migrating birds from all over the Western Hemisphere- making it a literal paradise for birders. Over 400 bird species have been identified on Delmarva, with over 200 being recorded in the 2009 Delmarva Birding Weekend count.
Not only does Delmarva Birding Weekend give bird enthusiasts the chance to enjoy watching winged wonders in natural habitats, but it also provides a unique chance to raise awareness about the importance of birds and habitat conservation through low-impact ecotourism.
Here’s a look at some Delmarva Birding Weekend trips and other events from around the Ocean City area:
Friday, April 24
– Trails to Rails Kayaking Trip- beginning at 1pm- Kayak through the salt marshes of Rehoboth Bay in Fenwick in search of elusive rails while observing the indigenous shorebirds, wading birds, and osprey along the way.
– Berlin Tally Rally- 5:00-7:00pm- Birders will gather at Burley Oak Brewing Company in Berlin to tally the bird totals from the first two days of Delmarva Birding Weekend and enjoy great beer and conversation. Bring your binoculars and scopes because at 6:30 the group will migrate across the street to do some twilight birding on a private property featuring large ponds, wetlands, thickets, and forests.
– Ayers and Trappe Creek Sunset Paddle- 6:30-830pm- $50 per person- This guided kayak tour by Ayers Creek Adventures takes you through the salt marshes of the Ayers and Trappe Creeks near Berlin that gives you the chance to see the spectacle of dozens of species settling in for their nightly roost. Bald eagles, osprey, herons, egrets, hawks, and gulls are just some of the birds you’re likely to encounter. Come for the bird watching, but stay for the post-paddle bonfire,
Saturday, April 25
– Assateague Coast to Coast- 8-11am- $25 per person- This 3-hour guided hike from the beach to the bay on Assateague Island National Seashore will take you in search of barrier island birds, including egrets, herons, willets, towhees, warblers, and vireos.
– Shorebird Explorer- 2-4pm- $30 per person- This boat tour of Ocean City’s Skimmer Island and the north shore of Assateague departs from the dock at Talbot Street. If you’re in search of coastal species- such as terns, piping plovers, purple sandpipers, and brant- then this is the trip for you. Don’t forget to stick around for the Tally Rally at M.R. Ducks at the conclusion of the trip.
– Ocean City Tally Rally- 4-6pm- After all the action of Saturday winds down, meet at the legendary M.R. Ducks for delicious food and drinks while you help the Delmarva Birding Weekend guides tally up all the species seen throughout the day.
– Assateague at Dusk-6:30-9:00pm- $25 per person- Take a nighttime trip along Assateague’s “Life of the Dunes Trail” to listen for rails, chuck-will’s-widows, and owls as you are serenaded by the soothing sounds of ocean surf and maritime pine trees under the beautiful Assateague sky.
Sunday, April 26
– Meandering Meadows- 8-11am- $25 per person- Wander around 150 acres of meadows and forest along the Ayers Creek in Berlin as you search for prairie warblers, yellow-breasted chats, indigo buntings, and wood ducks. Cost is $25 per person.
– Newport Farms Diversity Walk- 8am-noon- $25 per person- Pines, oaks, fields, and marsh spread as far as the eye can see on this 2000 acre farm outside of Berlin. Take a 3-hour stroll through this private and protected land for the chance to see nesting bald eagles, wood ducks, and wading birds.
Also, don’t forget that Delmarva Birding Weekend coincides with the 45th Annual Ward World Championship Carving Competition and Art Festival at the Ocean City Convention Center. This weekend-long event brings the world’s best bird carvers to the beach as they display their mastery and compete for over $60,000 in prize money.
For a full schedule of events for the 20th Annual Delmarva Birding Weekend, directions, and other information about the event, please visit: http://www.delmarvabirding.org/