Nature lovers flocking to the shore Jan. 25-27


The 2019 Winter Delmarva Birding Weekend is inviting hundreds of nature enthusiasts to the shore Jan. 25-27 to enjoy memorable winter experiences, including a near-shore maritime boat cruise; waterfowl, seal and eagle-watching trips; and jaunts through what are considered some of the most pristine habitats on the East Coast, in Delaware and Maryland.

Since the launch of the site earlier this month, trips have been filling at a record pace, organizers said this week. Remaining trips still have spots available on the Saturday boat cruise out of Lewes; Friday’s Assateague and Prime Hook trips; Saturday’s Assateague and Surrounds trip; and the Sunday trip to look for snowy owls and sea ducks at Cape Henlopen.

People can sign up for a trip or two on the award-winning weekend at www.DelmarvaBirding.com.

This fall, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an acclaimed 2018 Transactional Tourism Award for the event. Organizers said they have again planned an exciting schedule of field trips to showcase Delmarva’s diversity of winter wildlife.

“This event is so popular,” said guide and event co-organizer Jim Rapp. “Folks all over the East Coast are starting to realize just how much nature is still thriving on the Delmarva Peninsula.”

Harlequin ducks, eiders, purple sandpipers, falcons and more than 25 species of duck, goose and swan are on full display in the Mid-Atlantic for about four months each year. More than 108 species were tallied in 2018 during the winter weekend, including snowy owls, which are again dotting the region in covert locations in 2019.

Organizers said seals are a huge draw, too, for the Lewes boat tour, with harbor and gray seals traversing the ocean and inland waterways regularly. Winter is a true Arctic experience on the peninsula, they said.

Guided by local birders with decades-long experience on the shore, the walking tours and boat trips can accommodate visitors from the curious nature lover to fowl fanatics. Last year, birdwatchers from more than a dozen states flocked to the winter event.

“We enjoy such a big difference in bird species in winter and spring that it just makes sense to host winter birding trips,” said Worcester County Tourism Director Lisa Challenger.

The Delmarva Peninsula, they said, 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 some Weekend tallies have topped 200 species.

Birders, both novice and experienced, can make a statement about the economic value of birds and their habitats through the money they spend in local hotels, restaurants and shops.

In addition to the winter weekend, on April 25-28, the Spring Delmarva Birding Weekend will celebrate the migration of the spring suite of warblers, shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors. Registration for the spring weekend is expected to be online by Feb. 1. Event registration and sponsorship information can be found at www.DelmarvaBirding.com.