Birding by boat on First Street

July 4, 2021

There’s a new excursion on Cape Water Taxi and Tours! Capt. Maddy Voshell has studied wildlife conservancy and ornithology, and she invites you to join her for Birding by Boat on the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, which she calls First Street in Lewes.

Capt. Maddy, the first and only female captain, and captain trainee Tom Tyndall took the helm last Sunday morning as we departed at 10:30 a.m. under glorious sunshine and an easy breeze. Guests can bring their own beverages and binoculars, and learn about the many species that can be found in and around our treasured Cape Henlopen State Park.

We soon spotted osprey nests, about 12 of which line the canal. We were excited to see lots of babies in one nest. Many ospreys are banded, so naturalists know they winter south. Maddy informed us, “One 24-year-old was spotted as far away as Venezuela.”

Blue herons, “our modern-day dinosaurs,” said Maddy, appear as elegant statues lining the marshes. As one soars above us, we learn their wingspan measures taller than most people. Next we see cormorants, black-crested night herons, and a bald eagle.

The boat travels at a slow pace, allowing everyone to move about if they desire. I spy a woman at the stern with a camera boasting a long lens and can’t resist asking, “Is this how you spend your retirement days?”

She laughs and introduces herself as Mary Beth Aring, then offers to show me some of her shots. Struggling with my iPhone, I ask her if she would send me a few pictures for this column. She shared the heron and osprey photos.

Next we see willets, clapper rails, and glossy white ibis, which gleam in the sunlight. Maddy explains that we won’t see seaside sparrows, but we will hear their songs as they hide in the marsh.

Soon we are admiring the back porches of the homes in Cape Shores. One guest shares that her Uncle Joe is just ahead sitting on his dock. We yell in unison, “Good morning, Uncle Joe!” He grins and says, “Come on back!”

As the boat makes its way back to the dock, Maddy spots a piece of Styrofoam, and we stop so she can remove it from the water. A few minutes later something else is bobbing up and down, and she grabs a net and scoops up a discarded can of sunscreen.

Suddenly an osprey appears directly overhead with a fish in its talons. Immediately, a bald eagle tries to steal it. We enjoy watching the struggle and seeing the osprey win!

Both Capt. Maddy and Tom grew up in the area. Tom was raised in Laurel and served as a police officer in his hometown and Georgetown. He has a commercial fishing license and is part owner of an oyster farm. He enjoys his time on the water just like Maddy, who says she will “never want a desk job.”

To learn all about the various tours offered, go to You must make a reservation; seating at tables is assigned and distanced. Clean restroom is on board.

I learned many new things on the trip, including there’s no such thing as seagulls, just lots of gulls.


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