The 2018 Delmarva Birding Weekend is inviting hundreds of nature enthusiasts to the shore April 26-29 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 opened April 18 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 the hottest 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 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 could add several warbler species to their list, and a shorebird-laden boat trip behind Assateague and Ocean City in the afternoon can increase that tally for the weekend to more than 100 species. Loons in breeding plumage are a big draw on the trip.
Several field trips regularly sell out, so interested birders are being encouraged to register soon.
Guided by local birders with decades-long experience on the peninsula, the walking tours, boat trips, and canoe and kayak paddles will accommodate visitors from the curious nature-lover to fowl fanatics.
“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.”
The guided trips will feature jaunts through private lands and Maryland’s Chincoteague Bay through what are considered some of the most pristine habitats on the East Coast.
“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.
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 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,” organizers said. “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 important now more 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.
For sponsor and registration information, field trip descriptions and other resources for Delmarva Birding visit www.delmarvabirding.com. To become a sponsor, or for additional information, contact Jim Rapp (443-614-0261) or Dave Wilson (443-523-2201) at Conservation Community Consulting at email@example.com.