I’ve lived on the Shore for twenty years – about 80 percent of my life. Over all this time, I’ve gained quite the inside knowledge to our humble peninsula’s attractions and the possible answers to the ever-present question: What keeps bringing people back year after year? Others who have spent a majority of their lives here, as well as people who have only visited once or twice, could go back and forth for hours over just what that ‘special something’ is that makes Ocean City and its surrounding areas so great.
The thing is… I’ve cracked the case. End all the discussions and beachside arguments, because the definitive answer as to Ocean City’s biggest allure is this: it’s absolutely beautiful.
It’s not really such a secret, but sometimes we forget how amazing Ocean City’s natural environment really is. Luckily, when we take the moment to remember and decide we want to fully experience all the wonders this area has to offer us, there are people who are ready, willing, and excited to lead the way.
The folks behind the upcoming Delmarva Birding Weekend are just the type. A dedicated group of nature lovers, they’ve been visiting the Shore since 1995 – that’s more than two decades of appreciating Ocean City’s organic charm. Whether they’re a dilettante or a real connoisseur, nature enthusiasts from the area flock to Ocean City every April to enjoy walking tours, boat trips, and canoe and kayak paddling lead by experienced local birders.
Fortunately, binoculars aren’t just springtime fashion anymore!
Due to the weekend’s overwhelming popularity, the Delmarva Birding Weekend (DBW) has expanded to include a Winter event! For the first year ever, birdwatchers will have the chance to see the splendor of Ocean City and its winged inhabitants from January 27 – 29. According to Worcester County Tourism Director Lisa Challenger, “we enjoy such a big difference in bird species in winter and spring, it just made sense to open up two weekends.”
Experienced birdwatchers will have the opportunity to be lead by experienced guides on boat cruises and treks through some of Delmarva’s most beautiful and exclusive habitats in order to spot any number of ducks, raptors, shorebirds, falcons, razorbills, and eagles… oh my! With all there is to offer, it’s not just about glimpsing these local birds – the Delmarva Birding Weekend is about experiencing nature and taking in all the wonders it has to show us.
Even if you’re like me and your birdwatching experience has always been limited to wondering how approximately three million geese can possibly fit on the pond by your house, you have nothing to worry about in terms of being fresh to the art of birding. The weekend’s guides are reportedly both patient and fun loving, and the excursion is not physically burdensome by any means. It’s the perfect opportunity to not only kick off a new past time, but to learn more about the beaches, marshes, and forests we’ve always been surrounded by here in Delmarva. Both experienced birders and amateur admirers of our feathered friends are welcome on the trip, which includes exclusive strolls through private areas that are usually unavailable.
During the Weekend, our guests will hike on private farmland and woodland that are normally off-limits to birders, and our waterborne trips go where the birds are,” said Jim Rapp, DBW guide and organizer. He also points out that, “It’s our vast shallow bays and large tracts of protected marshes and bald cypress forests that make the Delmarva Peninsula one of the finest birding regions in the nation.”
It’s exactly that quality of Delmarva that makes the birding weekend so intriguing. We have such a vast array of natural habitats, which are all protected by local wildlife management areas and environmental refuges. It makes us not only an attraction for thousands of tourists each year, but also for more than 400 recorded species of bird, many of which can only be seen in winter months.
The birding weekend a great way to experience the beauty of Delmarva, it’s also a means to help preserve it. Birders are some of the best promoters of habitat conservation. By spending money at local hotels, restaurants, and shops in Ocean City and throughout the peninsula, DBW participants remind businesses of the economic value of our local natural areas, as well as the birds that call them home.
So instead of hibernating this Winter and praying for warmth, take some time to remind yourself that our little Eastern Shore is beautiful year round. It’d be such a shame to close ourselves off from nature as it continues to unfold outside our windows. After all, that’s what makes Ocean City so great! We’re lucky enough to live in or near such a magnificent, well-protected natural habitat. It’s time to get out there and experience it.
The featured image for this article is credited to Nico Sarbanes.