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Maryland Coastal Bays Birding Weekend a Wildlife Spectacle - April 20, 2011

Hundreds of northern gannets – huge seabirds with nearly 6-ft wingspans – plunge, head-first, into the surf, feasting on schooling fish. Thousands of double-crested cormorants nestled side-by-side, raft on the surface of saltwater. Prehistoric-looking brown pelicans take up residence. Tiny, brightly-colored prothonotary warblers flash like yellow jewels in the sun. Striking black and white common loons dive for their last fish before heading north to nest. Where can you see such wildlife spectacles? Right here, along Maryland’s Atlantic beaches and our coastal bays.

 

When can you see such wildlife spectacles? Right now!

 

Spring migration offers opportunities to see songbirds arrive to nest in our diverse habitats, and to catch a glimpse of ducks and loons that winter here, but will leave within weeks to head to their breeding grounds far north. Over 350 species of birds can be seen in our coastal bays and surrounding habitats during the course of a year. Spring migration is one of the best times to see this tremendous diversity of bird species – some arriving, some departing, and some just passing through.

 

If you are just beginning to learn about birds, the Delmarva Birding Weekend offers a chance to enjoy spring migration with friendly, enthusiastic, experienced guides. If you are an expert birder, the Delmarva Birding Weekend offers access to private properties and local hot spots that may yield a few new birds to add to your list. During the 2010 event, nearly 200 species were spotted in the extensive variety of environments, including barrier islands, tidal wetlands, cypress swamps, upland fields and primeval forests. Over 40 trips are offered throughout the weekend.

 

Each spring, hundreds of people flock to our area for the Delmarva Birding Weekend to celebrate our feathered friends. When traveling, birders bring binoculars, of course, but they also bring bucks – generating much-appreciated revenue for our local towns. Birding and birders are good for the economy.

 

The Delmarva Birding Weekend has a lot to offer local residents, too. Saturday afternoon, join us on the Shorebird Explorer boat trip. For only $25, you can enjoy a 2-hour boat tour around Skimmer Island and the north shore of Assateague for a look at loons and oystercatchers. Get an up-close look at the recent restoration efforts on Skimmer Island – using dredge spoil to provide critical nesting habitat for royal terns and black skimmers. If you’re lucky, you might also spot endangered piping plovers, just beginning to scrape nests in the sand and lay their eggs.

 

The Delmarva Birding Weekend celebrates the spring migration of thousands of warblers, shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors. The Weekend combines boat trips, paddling treks, and expeditions on foot, and takes place April 28-May 1, 2011. And if you want to get to know some birders better, trip participants can socialize at Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats Friday, April 29 in Rehoboth, DE and at The Angler in Ocean City, MD on Saturday, April 30.

 

For those of you looking for another bird spectacle the last weekend in April, stop by the Roland E. Powell Convention Center and join thousands of people who migrate to our area for the Annual Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival – an opportunity to see over 1,400 bird carvings and participate in educational talks and activities at the Kid’s Corner.

 

Spring migration – right here, right now. Don’t miss it.

 

Check out Delmarva Birding Weekend on Facebook or visit www.delmarvabirding.org for more information.

 

Carrie Samis is Education Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

 

 

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