Delmarva Birding Weekend set for April 25-28


The 2019 Delmarva Birding Weekend invites hundreds of nature enthusiasts to the shore April 25-28 to enjoy the full complement 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 event is now open at www.delmarvabirding.com.

Nature lovers can register for just one field trip, or multiple field trips each day of the four-day event. On Thursday, they can get an early start to the weekend with shorebirds along the Delaware Bayshore at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and the Mispillion Harbor or check out sites near Assateague and Ocean City, Md.

On Friday, they can start the morning at Redden State Forest, and enjoy a songbird and shorebird spectacle at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, or a new private property in northern Worcester County, Md., in the afternoon. The day could finish with a paddle along Ayres Creek.

Exploring the bald cypress swamps by kayak around Snow Hill, Md., on Saturday morning promises colorful warbler species, and a shorebird-laden boat trip behind Assateague and Ocean City in the afternoon can add to the avian extravaganza. Loons in breeding plumage are a big draw on that trip, organizers said.

Most trips regularly sell out, they warned, so interested nature lovers are being encouraged to register soon.

Guided by local birders with decades-long experience, the walking tours, boat trips, and canoe and kayak paddles are designed to accommodate visitors from the curious nature lover to fowl fanatics. Every year, birdwatchers from surrounding states flock to the event, organizers said.

“This is one of our biggest nature-oriented weekends,” said Lisa Challenger, tourism director for Worcester County, Md. “People go crazy over the number of eagles and herons, but they will see a lot more than that birding with our guides around Assateague Island and our cypress swamps near Snow Hill. Delmarva Birding Weekend trips are so good that the governor issued a tourism award for them last year.”

“The April weekend is spectacular,” said Southern Delaware Tourism Director Scott Thomas. “Imagine hiking a trail at Trap Pond to be met with one of the most beautiful yellows you’ve ever seen, in the form of a prothonotary warbler. Or spend a Friday afternoon at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge followed by happy hour in Rehoboth. That’s what the weekend is all about.”

Social events for new and experienced birders are scheduled throughout the weekend. The “Tally Rallies” are held at local breweries, bars and restaurants, and 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,” organizers noted.

The Delmarva Peninsula is considered 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 Birding Weekend tallies have topped 200 species.

“If boasting that many species isn’t enough, 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,” they added.

“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 Jim Rapp. “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.”

Co-organizer Dave Wilson added that most trips are not physically taxing and that 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 Worcester County Tourism, Southern Delaware Tourism, the Boardwalk Hotel Group, Jolly Roger Amusement Park, the Delmarva Almanac, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Somerset County (Md.) Tourism, My Backyard, Redfin.com and J&L Ocean Dream rentals. Organizers also offered special thanks to the private property owners who allow them access to their properties for the weekend.

Additional sponsor and registration information, field trip descriptions and other resources for Delmarva Birding are available at www.delmarvabirding.com. To become a sponsor or for additional information, contact Jim Rapp at (443) 614-0261 or Dave Wilson at (443) 523-2201 at Conservation Community Consulting at conservationcc@gmail.com.