Delmarva Birding Weekends has joined Lower Shore tourism offices and seasoned boat captains in the coastal bays, Chesapeake Bay and on the Choptank River to offer a new slate of birding boat trips this summer.
From Friday, June 18 to Saturday, Oct. 2, Sunset Seabird Safaris will traverse the bays behind Ocean City down to Chincoteague Bay. Departing from the West Ocean City Harbor, the three-hour evening tours begin with the northern bays, rife with shorebirds, American oystercatchers, skimmers and terns.
After cruising south past the gauntlet of nesting ospreys, Capt. Ricky will pause at a remote Sinepuxent island to look for nesting brown pelicans. The sojourn ends at sunset at South Point Spoils where participants can witness the feathered embrace of the full complement of colonial nesting birds including cattle egrets, glossy ibis, and tri-colored, little blue, and black-crowned night herons.
Starting Wednesday June 9, the boating bonanza is consummated with baby pelicans near Smith Island. The full-day Smith Island Pelican Tours depart the dock at Crisfield for Smith Island where skiff captains embark with participants on short jaunts to nearby bay islands to see the northernmost breeding colony of brown pelicans on the East Coast. In addition to a tour of the Smith Island Cultural Center and Martin National Wildlife Refuge, this trip includes a crab cake lunch and locally made Smith Island cake at Drum Point Market in the village of Tylerton.
Starting Thursday, July 1, Delmarva Birding Weekends and Harriet Tubman Tours will lead birding excursions along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Caroline County, Md. During the first two hours of the guided, self-driven tour, attendees will learn about the many daring escapes led by the famed freedom seeker and human rights activist known as The Moses of Her People, Harriet Tubman. In Caroline County, Harriet Tubman found shelter and assistance as she traveled along the Underground Railroad to Delaware.
The driving route courses through the farms, forests and significant Underground Railroad sites of Caroline County until the group arrives at River Run Cruises in Denton, Md. From there, participants will explore the upper reaches of the Choptank River during a two-hour cruise aboard a pontoon boat. Downriver, landings and points along the Choptank served as sites for perilous escapes by boat. The shallow waters of the Upper Choptank provided crossings for freedom seekers heading north toward Sandtown.
All tours are professionally guided. They do not enter the breeding islands, as this would greatly disturb the birds and jeopardize breeding success. Guests can also schedule personalized private group tours.
Guides Dave Wilson and Jim Rapp have been engaging in bird conservation in the coastal bays for more than 26 years including working with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Audubon Maryland-DC, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Sponsors for the events include the Dogfish Inn; Maryland’s Coast, Worcester County Tourism; Southern Delaware Tourism; the American Birding Association; the Boardwalk Hotel Group; Jolly Roger Amusement Park; the Maryland Coastal Bays Program; the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays; and Somerset County Tourism.