(Feb. 1, 2018) More than 300 people spotted 108 bird species, in addition to harbor and gray seals, during Winter Delmarva Birding Weekend, held Jan. 26-28.
“Pretty much every [trip] was sold out,” said Dave Wilson, organizer of the event with Jim Rapp.
The 2018 winter event featured nearly a dozen trips taking place in Worcester County and Sussex County, Delaware, where bird enthusiasts had the opportunity to view snowy owls, herring gulls, wild turkey, hawks, snow bunting, mourning dove, red-winged blackbird, sparrows, great cormorant, razorbill, crows, golden-crowned kinglet, woodpeckers, common loon, ducks, barn owl, mergansers, white-winged scoter and snow geese.
“One of the coolest things is the relationships we have with local [land] owners,” Rapp said. “Some of these places you can’t go on your own. They are private property.”
Delmarva Birding Weekend kicked off last Friday morning with a driving and hiking tour of the Chincoteague Bay Wilderness Landings. It featured unspoiled historic areas through remote saltwater and marsh landings within 16,000 acres of protected property on Chincoteague Bay.
On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, bird watchers checked out a 60-acre nature park and a 150-acre private farm.
Berlin Falls Park featured a number of duck species including mallards, northern shovelers, a ring-necked duck, buffleheads, hooded mergansers and a ruddy duck. A great blue heron, Canada geese and a belted kingfisher also made appearances in the area.
Then, bird watchers took a trip to Golden Quarter Farm along Ayers Creek to check out the forest, ponds, fields and creek.
Carolina chickadees, bald eagles, an American black duck, turkey vultures, a mallard, hooded mergansers, a bufflehead, black vultures, a great blue heron, white-throated sparrows, a northern mockingbird, yellow-rumped warblers, and northern cardinals were all spotted on the property.
“There is a unique wetland feature at the farm,” Wilson said. “Hooded mergansers and wood ducks communally nest in a pond during the spring here.”
On Saturday, more than 125 people took a three-hour boat tour around the mouth of the Delaware Bay checking out seals, snowy owls and gulls aboard the Thelma Dale V out of Lewes.
Participants also had the opportunity to end their Friday and Saturday nights at local establishments to discuss their weekend adventures.
“People enjoy the social nature and going out to the bar to swap stories and talk about the day,” Rapp said.
Bird watchers gathered at Burley Oak in Berlin on Friday night and met up at Irish Eyes in Lewes on Saturday evening.
A remote, duck-filled, 50-acre freshwater pond next to the forests and marshes of Newport Bay in Berlin and a driving and hiking adventure through Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware, were birding-watching options on Sunday. The park is located where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic and has a pitch pine forest, tidal marsh, forested wetland, dunes and beach habitats with a wide array of birds.
“Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Rapp said. “Everyone sees something they haven’t seen before, which is part of the reason people continue to come back and participate each year.”
Those who missed the fun last weekend, can check out the 23rd annual Spring Delmarva Birding Weekend, slated for April 26-29.
For more information, visit delmarvabirding.com.