BERLIN — The 2021 Delmarva Birding Weekend has evolved into a week-long event with hundreds of nature enthusiasts flocking to the shore April 21-26 to enjoy the full array of mid-Atlantic birds.
The region will welcome warblers, tanagers and other spring migrants and say goodbye to its loons, falcons, and waterfowl as they head northward. Registration for the expanding event is now open at www.delmarvabirding.com.
With half of the 21 trips filling within three weeks of the March unveiling, organizers added eight more trips from Wednesday, April 21 to Monday, April 26 to accommodate stir-crazy patrons eager to get outside. These include a Delaware After Dark trip along the Delaware Bayshore, additional walks through Blackbird State Forest and Saint Jones Reserve, a trip to woodlands around Phillips Landing near Laurel, Del. and a birdy stroll through the Delaware Botanic Gardens, plus additional Shorebird Explorer, Harriet Tubman Byway, and Smith Island trips.
Spring Birding Weekend staples still include an Ocean City Sunset Park and Berlin Heron Park trip, the Chincoteague Bay Landings trip, a Warblermania walk near Nassawango Creek Preserve and a paddling trip from Porter’s Crossing to Snow Hill.
With COVID-19 protocols in place, nature lovers can register for just one field trip, or multiple field trips each day. While several trips have sold out, the sheer number of offerings leaves plenty to be enjoyed.
Guided by local fun-loving birders with decades-long experience, the walking tours, boat trips, and canoe and kayak paddles will accommodate visitors from the curious nature lover to fowl fanatics. Every year, birdwatchers from surrounding states descend on Delmarva for the event.
“This is one of our biggest nature-oriented weekends,” said Melanie Pursel, tourism director for Worcester County. “People go crazy over the number of warblers and shorebirds, but they will see a lot more than that birding with our guides around Assateague Island and our cypress swamps near Snow Hill. Newport Farms and Ayers Creek are especially beautiful this time of year.”
“The April weekend is spectacular,” said Southern Delaware Tourism Director Scott Thomas. “Imagine hiking a trail at Redden State Forest to be met with one of the most beautiful crimson reds you’ve ever seen in the form of a Summer Tanager. Or spend an afternoon at Prime Hook or Bombay National Wildlife Refuges followed by happy hour in Lewes. That’s what the weekend is all about.”
Social events for new and experienced birders are scheduled throughout the weekend. These socially distanced “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.
According to event organizers, participants traditionally 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.
The Delmarva Peninsula is one of the country’s premier birding areas, thanks to an extensive variety of habitat protected by our 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. 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 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 Dave Wilson. “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.”
Wilson added 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.