The next Delmarva Birding Weekend has evolved into a Delmarva birding week. Hundreds of nature enthusiasts will flock to the beach from Wednesday, April 21 to Monday, April 26, to enjoy a full array of mid-Atlantic birds as the region welcomes warblers, tanagers and other spring migrants and prepares to say goodbye to its loons, falcons, and waterfowl as they head northward. Registration for the expanding event is now open at delmarvabirding.com.
With registration quickly filling for many of the trips already unveiled, organizers added eight more trips, from Wednesday to Monday, to accommodate stir-crazy patrons eager to get outside. These include a Delaware After Dark trip along the Delaware Bayshore, additional walks through Blackbird State Forest and Saint Jones Reserve, a trip to woodlands around Phillips Landing near Laurel, and a birdwatching stroll through the Delaware Botanic Gardens, plus additional Shorebird Explorer, Harriet Tubman Byway and Smith Island trips.
Excursions still include an Ocean City Sunset Park and Berlin Heron Park trip, the Chincoteague Bay Landings trip, a Warblermania walk near Nassawango Creek Preserve and a paddling trip from Porter’s Crossing to Snow Hill.
With COVID-19 protocols in place, nature lovers can register for just one field trip or multiple field trips each day. While several trips have sold out, the sheer number of offerings leaves plenty to be enjoyed.
Guided by local fun-loving birders with decades-long experience, the walking tours, boat trips, and canoe and kayak paddles will accommodate visitors from the curious nature lover to fowl fanatics. Every year, birdwatchers from surrounding states descend on Delmarva for the event.
“The April weekend is spectacular,” said Scott Thomas, Southern Delaware Tourism director. “Imagine hiking a trail at Redden State Forest to be met with one of the most beautiful crimson reds you’ve ever seen in the form of a summer tanager. Or spend an afternoon at Prime Hook or Bombay National Wildlife Refuges followed by happy hour in Lewes. That’s what the weekend is all about.”
Social events for new and experienced birders are scheduled throughout the weekend. These socially distanced tally rallies held at local breweries, bars and restaurants allow participants to add to the species checklist and swap nature stories with new friends.
Indeed, participants recount the event in terms of experiences rather than simply observing birds – a majestic bald eagle soaring over the marsh, a tri-colored heron in breeding plumage catching fish, or the eerie hoot and shadow of a barred owl at dusk. An outdoor experience is the true draw.
The Delmarva Peninsula is one of the country's premier birding areas, thanks to an extensive variety of habitat protected by coastal parks, refuges and wildlife management areas. More than 400 bird species have been recorded in the region and previous weekend tallies have topped 200 species.
Participants should feel even better knowing that they’ve helped Delmarva's birds by promoting birding and habitat conservation. Birders, both novice and experienced, make an important statement about the economic value of birds and their habitats through the money they spend in local hotels, restaurants and shops. Participants are encouraged to remind local businesses that they are here to enjoy Delmarva’s natural areas and the birds that inhabit them. This is more important now than ever.
“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,” said guide and organizer Dave Wilson. “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.”
Wilson added that most trips are not physically taxing and the event provides a rare opportunity to tally 100 species in a day in places that are normally inaccessible to the public.
Sponsors for the events include the Dogfish Inn, Southern Delaware Tourism, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and the American Birding Association. Special thanks also go to the private property owners who allow access to their properties for this weekend.
For more information and to register, go to delmarvabirding.com.