A Return Visit to Bombay Hook

I have yet to find a bad month to visit Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, but I’m setting a new goal to go more often this year, maybe even every month, and share the photos and notes with the blog. There are always interesting things to notice — the birds and different species.

Bombay Hook NWR protects one of the largest remaining expanses of tidal salt marsh in the mid-Atlantic region. The refuge, located along the coast of Delaware, is mostly marsh, but also includes freshwater impoundments and upland habitats that are managed for other wildlife.
I first wrote about Bombay Hook October 2013, based on a visit I’d made the year before, also in late October.

Just two weeks ago, we saw a number of birds, including a juvenile bald eagle, great herons, swans innumerable, shoveler ducks, pin-tail ducks, and a variety of other birds I don’t know the names of. Although the scenery was the bleak winter-scape (although no snow). I experienced some serious zoom-lens envy — my camera is a nice one, but my zoom lens is nothing like what some of the other bird-enthusiasts there have. Size does matter!

The refuge offers visitors a 12-mile wildlife drive, five walking trails (2 handicapped accessible), three observation towers, wildlife photography, a variety of nature and educational programs, and interpretative displays. The visitors center is closed on weekends during the winter months, although the bathrooms are available (good news to the morning visitor who’s just enjoyed 2 large mugs of coffee).

According to the refuge’s website, there are quite a few birds you can expect to see in the winter months:

In January, there are several varieties of hawks: red tailed, marsh and rough-legged are commonly observed. Bald eagles begin working on their nests. And of course, there are several herds of whitetail deer, which often are seen on the fields at dusk.

During February, the Bald eagles are busy laying and incubating their eggs. Large flocks of Pintail ducks arrive with the first mild weather of the month — we saw quite a few, but not “large flocks” but perhaps the warm weather trigger hadn’t really occurred yet. It was still pretty cold while we were there.

In March, the spring waterfowl migration peaks, so yeah, I plan to head back, probably around mid-month! (Maybe I’ll take my bike and bike around the 12-mile road.) Ducks, snow geese and Canada geese are abundant. Looking down into the water and the ground, woodchucks and turtles emerge from hibernation. And woodcock courtship flights occur.

Ironically, it was on our way back home that we noticed a large flock of swans hanging out in the middle of a field of winter wheat, well outside of the wildlife refuge. So of course, I pulled off the road, dug out my camera, and snapped some photos! They are beautiful (the swans, not the photos as much).

Know before you go: It’s a good time to visit, just about any time of the year. But there are some months that you need to plan ahead. Check the website or call to find out about refuge road closures during bad weather and hunting season. During summer months, visitors should bring insect repellent and wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants.

Getting there: 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, Smyrna, DE 19977

Dogs: Yes, but leashed.

Hours: The wildlife drive is open from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset daily. The visitor center is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. year round. During spring and fall weekends, the visitor center is open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Website: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/bombay_hook/

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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Email [email protected] if you’re interested in being a guest-blogger!