A white-winged scoter is among the colorful birds birders can spot near the Delmarva beaches. Photo: Frode Jacobsen/Delmarva Birding Weekend

Delmarva Birding Weekends Spotlight Waterfowl, Seals & Harriet Tubman

Heading for the Maryland and Delaware beaches may not be top of mind this time of year, but the amazing wildlife viewing opportunities more than make up for the less-than-ideal beach weather. The Delmarva Birding Weekends series is underway now, and amateur and pro photographers alike are having great luck capturing unusual waterfowl and seals. Last weekend alone, birders recorded 58 bird species spotted during the event.

Next up, grab your binoculars and pack the heavy coat for Wintering Delmarva Dogfish BirdINNg weekend, coming on Jan. 25-28.  Part of Delmarva Birding Weekends, the upcoming event gives participants the opportunity to encounter numerous wintering bird species, including the sought after King Eider sea duck, as well as a host of other wintering avian species.

Delmarva Birding Weekends continues its partnership with the Dogfish INN located in Lewes, Delaware, which will serve as a basecamp for out of town birders.  And just like its’ namesake craft beer and spirits, the inn has an offbeat style, and is a gateway to coastal Delmarva. 

The weekend is highlighted by guided field trips to some of Delmarva’s best birding locations including the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Henlopen State Park, both the Ocean City and Indian River inlets, and more. Many types of birds including eagles, egrets, waterfowl, owls can be spotted during the trips—and even seals often make an appearance, as they did in the water in Lewes last weekend.

The Wintering Delmarva Dogfish BirdINNg weekend will commence on Thursday Jan 25th with Birding the Harriet Tubman Byway.  Joining this expedition will be Harriet Tubman Tours, so attendees can learn more about one of Maryland’s most stalwart residents and beacons of freedom, Harriet Tubman. While visitors learn more about the famed abolitionist there will be plenty of birding along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.  Fun fact:  Harriet Tubman would mimic the call of the woodland residing barred owl to alert those escaping slavery that she had arrived.   

This trip will also include birding within the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which hosts the largest population of breeding bald eagles on the East Coast outside of Florida.  

Two boat tours, dubbed Scoters, Seals & Slightly Mightys, are scheduled for both Friday, January 26th and Saturday the 27th.  Birders and wildlife enthusiasts will search for more seafaring wintering species including harlequin ducks, scoters, loons, and razorbills as well as both grey and harbor seals. Seals are winter migrants to the coastal waters of Delmarva and this trip provides one of the better opportunities to view them as they haul out on rocks.

Trips are rain or shine and cancellations are not accepted after January 15, 2024.

For more information on trip registration and meeting locations, visit the Delmarva Birding Weekends official website.