Whether you’re a veteran bird watcher who can spot the difference between a Yellow Warbler and an American Goldfinch or simply an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys a scenic morning walk, consider birding on the Middle Peninsula.
The options are endless in Mathews, Gloucester and Middlesex for solo outings, but if you’d like to be part of a group, check out the Middle Peninsula Bird Club on Facebook, which offers an open invitation to join.
Susan Crockett organizes the outings for the club, which meets two mornings a month for bird outings that generally begin at 8 a.m., sometime earlier during the steamy months of summer.
Crockett enjoys what she calls the “team sport” of birding. “You help each other out,” she says. “If you go with a group, you’re going to see more birds. You’re going to hear more birds. Everybody’s eyes move in a different direction. And there’s always somebody in the group who know more than you, so you learn as you go.”
Crockett shared with us some of her favorite spots to bird on the MidPen along with some helpful websites and tips to get started.
The Department of Wildlife Resources lists Virginia birding and wildlife trails, including several in the coastal region. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds and its eBird for Virginia page along with Audubon’s Guide to North American Birds are good places to see what you might see!
-Enter Beaverdam Park at the northern entrance of Fary’s Mill Road. It would take an entire day to complete the nine miles of trails. It’s lovely walking around the lake, which contains multiple species of ducks in the winter months.
–Machicomoco State Park, is a new gem for birding, with 148 species already recorded. “They haven’t been open a year so that’s a lot,” Crockett says. You’ll find multiple habitats there and endless options to explore.
–Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve in Mathews is home to rare shore birds. Crockett calls the pristine beach “a birding hot spot.” You’ll see gulls, wading birds, waterfowl, marsh birds and songbirds. Check the tides before you go.
–New Point Comfort Preserve attracts migrating land and water birds; look for the fiddler crabs from the boardwalk, too.
–Gloucester Point Beach Park on the York River is full of diverse species depending on the season. Double-crested Cormorants are ample as are Rock Pigeons and Red-Winged Blackbirds.
–Brent and Becky’s Bulbs gives the club access regularly. The Gloucester business is located along the Atlantic Flyway, which annually attracts thousands of birds migrating south for the winter.
–Holly Point Nature Park at the Deltaville Maritime Museum located on the Chesapeake Bay is another eBird hotspot. If you’re lucky, you’ll spy a bald eagle.
–Stingray Point Marina in Deltaville is home to several species of waterfowl. While most of the land in Middlesex County is privately owned, several public boat ramps there along the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers offer opportunity for birding.
You’ll want to carry binoculars when you go birding. Wear good walking shoes and dress for the season. Remember a hat, sunscreen and bug spray. Downloading the Audubon app is handy, though cell service can be spotty depending on where you bird.
The Middle Peninsula Bird Club also offers outings on private properties. Crockett sends out regular emails of upcoming outings. Either join the Facebook group or email her at [email protected] to be part of the fun.