Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge & Maryland Eastern Shore Trip Report, February 3-5, 2017

Ten members of the Fredericksburg Birding Club gathered at noon on Friday for lunch at the Cambridge Diner where Bev and Jim Arnold, our leaders for the weekend, went over the trip itinerary.  After lunch, we spent the early afternoon in Cambridge birding several spots on the Choptank River where we spotted Common Goldeneye, Surf Scoter, and Long-tailed Ducks.  At the end of Oakley Street we were treated to a waterfowl show with close up looks at hundreds of Canvasback and Lesser Scaup, with a sprinkling of Ruddy Duck, Mallard, and Wigeon, among others.  From Cambridge we drove to Blackwater NWR and birded the wildlife drive till dusk.  Highlights included Northern Shovelers, Ring-necked Ducks, Common Mergansers, a group of 30 White Pelicans, and thousands of Snow Geese.  We also picked up a small flock of Dunlin, several Killdeer, and both adult and immature Bald Eagles.  After a quick check in at our hotel, we ended our day with an excellent dinner at the High Spot Gastropub in downtown Cambridge.

After an early morning breakfast, Saturday began with a drive down Egypt Road that rewarded us with one of our target birds – Horned Lark!  We continued with another drive around the wildlife drive at Blackwater NWR and a stop at the new visitor center.  A Coopers Hawk was spotted uncharacteristically perched on the ground in the reeds, and at the visitor center we picked up Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a Northern Harrier hunting over the marshes.  From there we went looking for eagles along Decoursey Bridge Road and Bestpitch Ferry Road.

A surprise find of Eastern Meadowlark put smiles on everyone’s faces.  After a picnic lunch at the Harriet Tubman Historical Site we made our way south to Hooper Island where we saw several thousand Redhead, more Surf Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Horned Grebe, Common Loon and Red-breasted Merganser.  We ended our day with dinner at the acclaimed Old Salty’s restaurant.

Sunday began with breakfast and an early morning check-out followed by another look at the Choptank River in Cambridge.  We then began our drive home with a stop at the Pickering Creek Audubon Center north of Easton and a final stop at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, MD where we looked for the Orange-crowned Warbler reported to be overwintering there.  The warbler was a no show, but a nice group of Northern Pintail ducks, and the cute Brown-headed Nuthatch were enjoyable consolation prizes!  Our trip ended with a late lunch at the Cracker Barrel on Kent Island.

Trip Participants

Bev and Jim Arnold

Dave and Georgia Patton

Scott Byrd

Brenda Chase

Alton Dick


Maureen Hamm

Sally Knight

Species Tally – 74

Tundra Swan

Snow Goose

Canada Goose

American Black Duck


Northern Pintail

Northern Shoveler


American Wigeon



Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Long-tailed duck

Surf Scoter

Common Goldeneye


Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Common Loon

Horned Grebe

American White Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel



Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Forstern’s Tern

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Blue Jay

American Crow

Fish Crow

Horned Lark

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Northern Mockingbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Common Grackle

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

Leave a Reply