Each spring, Delaware’s coastal wildlife refuges become the center of the world – the bird-watching world, that is.
Throughout the state’s scenic bayside sanctuaries, blue skies fill with flocks of shorebirds and songbirds, seeking sustenance during their long flights across the hemisphere. By the water’s edge, masses of sandpipers and redknots feed on the eggs of prehistoric horseshoe crabs, perpetuating a life cycle that has existed for millennia. All along the coast and in Delaware State Parks, birdwatchers are blessed with an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color and life, from bald eagles to soaring hawks.
Nature’s spring rituals inevitably inspire an assortment of birdwatching events in Delaware, along with an always-enjoyable lineup of nearby spring festivals that have more to do with the balmy days than the hungry birds.
For a quick overview of the options, scroll through the overview of Birding in Delaware. Then it will be time to grab your binoculars, create your travel itinerary and explore some of the other spring activities in Delaware. See you this spring!
Top Delaware birdwatching events:
During the annual Delaware Bird-A-Thon (May 2-10, 2015), visitors can spend a few hours, an afternoon, or all day enjoying nature and watching migratory birds in the name of bird conservation. Structured much like a walk-a-thon, the fundraiser challenges participants to count the number of different bird species seen (or heard) in a 24-hour period. This is a great way to add a sense of purpose and fun to your trip to one of Delaware’s stunning National Wildlife Refuges, such as Bombay Hook or Prime Hook.
Birding Field Trips
The Delmarva Ornithological Society also sponsors regular “field trips” to top birding areas, hosted by an expert guide. See the society’s Field Trip Schedule for more.
Delmarva Birding Weekend
One of the most popular birdwatching events in the mid-Atlantic region is the Delmarva Birding Weekend (April 23–26, 2015). Participants can take part in a number of excursions during the daytime, nighttime, aboard a boat, or even while canoeing or kayaking. With over 20 different programs and excursions, each visitor can custom tailor their trip to their own individual desires.
Brandywine Creek State Park Monthly Birdwalk
Here’s a chance to visit one of the state’s most beautiful parks and get up close with the flora and fauna. The Birdwalks are held at 8 a.m. on the last Saturday of every month from Feb. 28-March 28, and are led by an expert volunteer birder from the Museum of Natural History. All you need are your eyes, ears and a comfortable pair of hiking boots. No pre-registration required, and cost is free.
Resources and travel ideas to create your own Delaware birdwatching adventure:
• See the lineup of Top Birding Sites in Delaware and the species you will find.
• The Delaware Birding Trail is a great way to explore the options. Available as a free map and guide, it’s a comprehensive resource for anyone planning a birding trip in Delaware. The map is distributed at 13 sites across the state, and it can be requested online.
• Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge offers visitors a 12-mile wildlife drive, five walking trails (two of them handicapped accessible), three observation towers, wildlife photography, a variety of nature and educational programs, and interpretative displays. Scroll through their Plan Your Visit webpage for area information.
• Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge features observation decks, pull-offs, and canoe and 6 miles of hiking trails to help you observe the natural wonders. Explore the changing landscapes, including vernal pools, emergent marshes, shrublands, upland forests and forested wetlands. See more on Prime Hook’s Visitor Activities webpage.
posted on: Monday, Feb 16, 2015 11:09 AM
by: Delaware Tourism Office
Admittedly, it can be tough summoning the courage to step outside when it’s cold. Plainly, there are days when a warm fire is preferable to an outdoor excursion. But there are times when it just feels good to get out and go, especially after a couple months shut inside.
Luckily, we’ve done the legwork for you and found a few things to do outdoors in Delaware during the winter season that are guaranteed to get the blood flowing and put some spring back in your step. As an added benefit, many are just plain fun, and thoroughly conducive to keeping fitness levels up through those long winter months.
Delaware is blessed with some great skating options, including the new Riverfront Wilmington Ice Skating Rink, which has the added benefit of being located close to the plentiful shopping and restaurants in the area. If an outdoor excursion seems extreme, consider the indoor skating available at the University Of Delaware Ice Arena, or The Pond, both in the Newark area. Farther downstate, check out the Centre Ice Rink at Delaware State Fair, on the grounds of the Harrington Raceway and Casino.
Who doesn’t like sledding? Here’s a sampling of Delaware’s most thrilling and popular slopes:
• Rockford Park, Wilmington (just below Rockford Tower and the tennis courts)
• Monkey Hill by Brandywine Zoo, Wilmington (North Park Drive, adjacent to the Zoo)
• Rockwood Park and Mansion (just north of Wilmington on Washington Street Extension)
• Big Hill at Brandywine Creek State Park (Off Del. 100 in North Wilmington, on the right as you enter the main parking lot)
• Bear Mountain at Glasgow Park (U.S. 40 and Del. 896, near the East entrance)
• Pike Creek Golf Course, Pike Creek (near Skyline Grill, off Skyline Drive)
• Pike Creek Christian School, Pike Creek (Polly Drummond Road)
Sometimes, the best hiking can be found on a brisk winter day, far removed from summer’s sweltering peak. The Delaware Outdoor Trail is a great tool for finding scenic spots to wander, or you may want to consider some of the special organized hikes that state parks sponsor in the coming days:
• Sweetheart Hike at White Clay Creek State Park (February 14, 2015): Enjoy a crisp brisk hike and cocoa in front of a blazing fire on the Sweetheart Hike.
• Bridge Walk and Coin Beach Hike (February 15, 2015): Explore the outdoor wonders of Delaware Seashore State Park with a hike at Bridge Walk and Coin Beach.
• Barnes Woods Winter Hike at Trap Pond State Park (February 21, 2015): Discover the winter beauty of Trap Pond State Park with a hike through historic Barnes Woods Nature Preserve.
• Fresh Pond Tract Hike (February 22, 2015): Learn about the coastal wildlife of Delaware Seashore State Park with a hike at Fresh Pond Tract.
Fans of fly fishing swear by its therapeutic properties, so why not give it a try at a special “Introduction to Fly Fishing” event in the moonlight at the Judge Morris Estate (February 23, 2015).
Delaware is known for having some of the best bird watching in the world, thanks to its location on the Atlantic Flyway. Check out the special programs at Delaware’s costal refuges for some spectacular views of nature:
• Free Wildlife Drive through Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (February 14 – 16, 2015): Spot snow geese, a variety of waterfowl, bald eagles, hawks, and great blue herons at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
• Beginner Birders at Lums Pond State Park (February 14, 2015): Learn how to identify a variety of feathered friends.
Another winter event that truly shows the magic of the Delaware seashore is Seals on the Beach (February 28, 2015), at Cape Henlopen State Park.
RIDE THE STEAM TRAIN
The Wilmington & Western Railroad is an all-time family favorite in Delaware, and the special Festival Express event (February 28, 2015) gives riders a chance to enjoy a 40-minute round-trip tour through the towns of Yorklyn and Ashland aboard a vintage 1929 Pennsylvania Railroad railcar.
posted on: Friday, Jan 16, 2015 1:10 PM
by: Delaware Tourism Office
The fall season at the Delaware beaches can easily be described as a fitness paradise - no gym pass needed. The conditions are near perfect with no humidity, sunny skies and 70 degree weather – glorious!! What could be better then lacing up your favorite sneaks and heading out for a magnificent run?! Leave your iPod at home - the peaceful sounds and sights of leaves falling, the ocean pounding against the beaches and dogs running free (in complete heaven) on the sand – might be the most perfect way to spend an hour and get fit at the same time.
The Delaware Junction and Breakwater Trail is a favorite place for a long run. The 5- mile trail (or six if you start in Rehoboth) will take you on a journey though corn stalks, farm life, lush trees, foot-bridges that overlook breath-taking wetlands, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see a couple of peaceful, doe-eyed deer. It’s a must for a fall exercise experience!
posted on: Thursday, Sep 6, 2012 6:23 PM
by: Delaware Tourism Office
Kids and parents know that when the air turns crisp and the days get shorter school is right around the corner. But these changes also signal the return of a favorite pastime for families and friends: Hunting season in Delaware is just a few weeks away, and it’s time to fish out the gear and get ready.
Opening day of dove season, on Sept. 1, is always the starting gun for the rest of hunting season and the dog’s first workout to loosen the cobwebs and get back in gear in preparation for the seasons that lie ahead.
Early duck season comes next, and here it’s always a fertile one: Delaware is in the Atlantic Flyway and located on a coastal flat that contains some of the most productive marshes in the country. Theoretically, a hunter can bag up to six ducks per day, which with any luck can be accomplished in a couple of hours or all day depending on many factors such as location, weather and habitat.
After the ducks comes the long-awaited Canada goose season, which is special to my son and I because hunting on opening day is a tradition. We have hunted together on the opening day of goose season since he was a young boy. Now he is my guide, caller and hunting companion. There is nothing better than the banter we share as we sit in the blind and wait for the sunrise.
To be outdoors, watching the beauty and bounty all around you, is absolutely awe-inspiring. One of my favorite parts is following the dogs’ eyes stalk the bird, and then watching them work to fetch the fowl. This is all part of the experience of hunting.
Snow Geese are in at the same time, but, as most hunters know, they also have an extended season. They are a hit-or-miss species that can wipe out a cornfield or marsh in a matter of days.
Shotgun deer season usually begins in the second week of November. With plenty of good habitat around, the butcher shops are often loaded with Delaware’s venison.
While Wild Turkey and small game can also be bagged in Delaware, the above seasons are the ones that put tourists on the scent to travel and hunt in the First State.
The state’s public land and stewardship provide many opportunities for access to some of the finest hunting land in Delaware. We are also home to two National Wildlife Refuges that provide public hunting access. And the Del. 9 corridor, which runs along the East Coast of Delaware, offers a scenic byway dotted with wildlife areas and access to view the birds that make their way to Delaware each fall.
If you are into hunting, give Delaware a try - you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
*Featured guest blog post by Linda Parkowski – Director of Tourism, State of Delaware.
posted on: Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012 1:26 PM
by: Delaware Tourism Office
It may sound pretty pretentious for us to put Delaware down as fisherman’s dream, but it’s true. From the Atlantic Ocean to fresh water ponds, there are tons of locations in Delaware to reel in the big catch.
Some of the best ways to fish in Delaware is either by charter or surf fishing. There are a multitude of fishing charters and marinas from Fisherman’s Wharf in Lewes (offerings charter boats and sightseeing vessels) to Delaware City Marina in northern Delaware (offering floating docks, fuel service and much more). If you find yourself to be more on the beginner side of being a fisherman, don’t worry! The charters have all you need and will instruct you. Some will also take visitors out on guided tours of the Atlantic coastline. Now, if you are more of a landlubber, then surf fishing would be the way to go. Some of the most popular places to surf fish in Delaware are either Cape Henlopen State Park or Delaware Seashore State Park. Pull up a chair, cast out your line, and wait for a great fight with one of the many different species of fish that are waiting for you in the Delaware Bay or Ocean.
If salt-water fishing is not for you, Delaware also has many different outlets for fresh water fishing. Some of our most popular places to fresh water fish are Moores Lake in Dover, Concord Pond in Seaford (which is one of the largest fishing ponds in Delaware) and Brandywine Creek State Park in Wilmington.
For our Trout fans, there are all sorts of spots along the Delaware River for fly fishing as well as White Clay Creek State Park, which is the First State’s premier fly fishing location.
Delaware is known for many great attractions and events. When you combine a fishing trip with the various other activities offered in the state, then Delaware truly becomes a fisherman’s dream come true. For ideas on a fishing trip to Delaware, go to http://www.visitdelaware.com/things-to-do/fishing.
posted on: Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012 2:04 PM
by: Delaware Tourism Office