Delmarva Birding Weekends is partnering with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and its harbor-front hotel, the Dogfish INN, to host the 2021 “Winter Delmarva Dogfish BirdINNg Weekend.” Hundreds of nature enthusiasts are expected to flock to the coast Jan. 29-31 to enjoy a fusion of birds, boats and beer.
While the celebrated event still boasts its popular seal and birdwatching boat cruises and strolls through some of the most pristine habitats on Delmarva, the Dogfish INN in Lewes is seeing to it that a warm bed and craft beer are an integral part of the mix this year.
Nestled along the canal in historic downtown Lewes, just a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf, the Dogfish INN is “the Mother Nature basecamp for coastal Delaware,” providing beer lovers and adventure seekers alike with fun-filled opportunities to explore the area’s many splendors, organizers said.
For Winter Delmarva Dogfish BirdINNg Weekend participants, the Dogfish INN will offer a special lodging package that includes a custom Dogfish Head X Patagonia beanie, a slew of off-centered swag, and a 10 percent discount at the brewery’s Rehoboth brewpub, Brewings & Eats, and Milton-based Tasting Room & Kitchen.
With COVID-19 protocols in place, field trips include forays into Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Henlopen State Park, the inlets at Indian River and Ocean City, Md., Heron Park in Berlin, Md., and nearby Newport Farms. Small group “Scoters, Seals & Slightly Mightys” boat tours in Lewes aim to dazzle onlookers with incredible opportunities to view sea ducks, as well as harbor and gray seals.
Bird and nature lovers can sign up for a trip or two during the award-winning weekend at www.DelmarvaBirding.com.
Dogfish Head founder and brewer Sam Calagione said the brewery’s nature-centric mindset made this partnership an easy marriage.
“Mother Nature is at the heart of everything we do at Dogfish, because without the natural agricultural ingredients with which we craft our recipes, our beers would not exist. That’s why we are continuously seeking new ways to protect and give back to the Earth, especially in our local community. In fact, our motto here at the Dogfish INN is, ‘Welcome to Lewes. Mother Nature, Let’s Do This!’
“In coastal Delaware, we are surrounded by opportunities to explore the great outdoors, and we are lucky enough to have one of the world’s best birding scenes,” he added. “Through our partnership with Delmarva Birding Weekends, we are hoping to not only encourage folks to get outside and experience the goodness just beyond their doors, but to inspire them to do their part to protect the planet we call home.”
Now in its 26th year, Delmarva Birding Weekend organizers point to local wildlife as the event’s economic engine.
“Folks all over the East Coast are starting to realize how spectacular the winter birding is here on Delmarva,” said event organizer Dave Wilson. “Hailing from all over the East Coast, our guests travel here to pair local outdoor experiences with local food and craft beer. It makes perfect sense to unite with Dogfish to bring it all together.”
Indeed, 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 a year. More than 100 species were tallied in 2020 during the winter weekend, and dozens of seals flaunted their flippers on the Lewes breakwaters.
Guided by local birders with decades-long experience on the shore, the walking tours and boat trips accommodate visitors from the curious nature lover to fowl fanatics. Last year, birdwatchers from more than a dozen states flocked to the winter event.
“Delaware is teeming with bird species in winter,” said Southern Delaware Tourism Director Scott Thomas. “And Delmarva is a great place to experience them, with the combination of wildlife refuges, local fare and accommodations like nowhere else.”
Melanie Pursel, the director of Worcester County (Md.) Tourism concurred.
“We enjoy such an abundance of bird species in the colder months that it just makes sense to market winter birding experiences,” she said.
Much of that fare will be available both Friday and Saturday nights at Irish Eyes in Lewes, when guests can enjoy Dogfish Head beer specials as part of the “tally rally” to count the weekend’s species and relate tales of the day’s exploits. Mask-wearing and social-distancing will be the rule at the rally.
Afterwards, those staying at the Dogfish INN can enjoy the short walk along the harbor back to their “off-centered” rooms, where the Winter Delmarva Dogfish BirdINNg Weekend perks keep flowing. The INN’s Cowboy Cauldron outdoor fire pit is a spot for recounting the day’s events or just counting stars.
To book the INN’s special, Winter Delmarva Dogfish BirdINNg Weekend package, type “Delmarva Birding Weekend” in the special requests section during online booking for the inn, or call (302) 644-8292. Field trips and events must be booked separately through Delmarva Birding Weekends.
After the feathers have settled and the birding and imbibing are done, outdoor enthusiasts can start recharging their engines for the next birding extravaganza March 5-7. Details and Dogfish Head deals will be divulged in February.
Other sponsors for the Winter Weekend include Southern Delaware Tourism, Worcester County Tourism, Jolly Roger Amusement Park and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays. Event registration and sponsorship information can be found at www.DelmarvaBirding.com and the www.dogfish.com/inn.
“We purposefully host the event on the weekend between the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl,” said Wilson, “so we hope you’ll get off the couch, bundle up and get outside. Eagles and ravens are best seen outdoors!”