‘Oktobirdfest’ on Eastern Shore provides novice bird-watchers with upcoming socially distant activity

A socially distanced bird-watching weekend is coming up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This photo shows royal terns in foreground, Western willets and marbled godwits behind.

Just one of the birds you might see during Oktobirdfest are sanderlings.

If you go to Oktobirdfest, you might see these birds: a caspian tern, double-crested cormorant and royal tern.

An American oystercatcher hunts amid a number of dunlins.


Looking for a socially distant, outdoor activity in October?

If you’re up for a drive east, you can link up with Delmarva Birding Weekends for their upcoming “Oktobirdfest.”

It runs Oct. 9-11 with trips to Maryland shore towns like Ocean City and Berlin, and other scenic locations in Sussex County, Delaware and Worcester County, Maryland.

Dave Wilson, one of the weekend’s organizers, said last year was the first year for the fall birding weekend, which complemented the spring and winter weekends.

Together with his guide, Jim Rapp, Wilson said it made sense to create “Octobirdfest,” which combined bird-watching with a “tally rally” at local breweries.

This year, the event is back, but in a slightly subdued way due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, COVID-19 concerns don’t bother the birds, so there’s still plenty of amazing bird-watching ahead.

Wilson said this time of year is particularly rewarding because you have a unique combination of birds in the region. Wilson said birds like plovers have arrived after breeding near the Arctic Circle, and join the resident tricolored herons, egrets and little blue herons. You can also see birds of prey such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons.

In addition, October is still early enough that some birds haven’t migrated south yet.

“They’re just spectacular birds, really good stuff to see,” Wilson said.

Wilson also said the trips are not exclusive for expert bird-watchers.

“Most of our birders are beginners,” Wilson said. “There are no snotty birders or anything like that, we’re there to have fun and spend time out doors.”

All events during the three-day weekend will have proper social distancing measures in place as part of their coronavirus restriction plans. It also includes hand sanitizer and mask-wearing requirements when groups cannot stay more than six feet apart.

Masks will be required for all events except for on-water paddling tours.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


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