With over 400 different bird species on the peninsula, its no wonder that Delmarva is a destination for bird enthusiasts from around the country and sometimes the world.
Salisbury, MD - Last night at the Salisbury Zoo, 25 families gathered for their annual Bunk With The Beasts event. After signing up, families had the zoo entirely to themselves pitching their tents within the perimeter.
Participants took part in several zoo and camping themed activities including a live animal presentation with Lara Nagle, an Education Technician at the zoo. Leonara Dillon the Education Curator at the zoo led the children in an animal enrichment craft project. Friends of the Salisbury Zoo board President Jeff Gleason and Vice President Sharon Benchoff along volunteer Linda Lyons kept things running smoothly.
The pinnacle of Bunk With The Beasts is a guided night hike. Being able to walk through the zoo after hours is a rare treat. We we able to see many of the zoo's crepuscular (animals that are most active during dusk and dawn) and nocturnal animals in full effect. Endangered wolves howling, a bobcat making his rounds, and an ocelot purring. It was an incredible experience!
The Salisbury Zoo is a hidden gem open 7 days a week from 9-4:30. The animals are spectacular, the facility is huge and staff is friendly and knowledgable.
TIP - The next big events at the Salisbury Zoo are 'Halloween Happenings' and 'Night of the Living Zoo' in October. Do yourself a favor though and keep an eye on their calendar for more of these special events.
Last night we had the unique opportunity to go on a full moon paddle with Lisa Daisy from EcoBay Kayaking Adventures. We met her and the rest of the tour at the James Farm Ecological Preserve in Ocean View, Delaware at 8:45pm for the second paddling session of the evening. (There's also a 6pm if you're interested) Twilight now, Lisa took us on a short walk through the woods to Pasture Point Cove. As the water came into view the sky was showing the most amazing shades of orange and blue as the last of the suns rays left us. The water was placid and warm with a slight breeze. Truly perfect conditions.
As we pushed our kayaks off the beach we noticed that we shared the waters edge with thousands of horseshoe crabs scurrying about doing the mating dance. Out in the cove we were joined only by our fellow paddlers and the brilliant full moon. I have to tell you, it was a magical experience. Lisa guided us out of the cove and around a point sharing information about the local ecosystem.
And then, some headlamps appeared neat the dock as we pulled back ashore; it was Dennis Bartow from the Center for Inland Bays and his volunteer horseshoe crab counting team who were painstakingly going along the shoreline counting each individual crab, one square meter at a time and logging it.
The busy-body crabs gave them a run for their money as the scurried in and around the counting frame. It's this sort of experience that makes this place so unique-- exceptionally friendly and knowledgable people in a pristine environment. The incredible scenery and good vibes had us floating back to the car.
PS Delmarva, we love you!
Photos by Ryan Brooks (who braved taking his camera on a kayak in the middle of the night...good on ya!!)
These two species, the horseshoe crabs and red knots' interdependent relationship has become a Delaware Bay attraction for tourists, hobbyists and scientists alike as it hosts the largest staging area for shorebirds in the Atlantic Flyway and is the second largest "fueling" site in North America, according to the Ecological Research & Development Group (ERDG).
Visit the shores of the Delaware bay from now until mid-June to catch a glimpse of this remarkable relationship...low tide is usually the best time to see the most crab action.
Remember to Just Flip 'Em when you see a horseshoe crab stranded on its back. They don't bite or sting! Promise!
This map shows where horseshoe crabs have been sited around the world. Map courtesy of horseshoecrab.org.
Photos by Ryan Brooks
What has ten eyes, blue blood, uses its gills to swim, has outlived the dinosaurs, and is related to scorpions and spiders. No it's not your baby brother; it's the horseshoe crab. It's the mating season and the local population are hard at work making babies along the edge of the water along our local beaches. Timed with the full moon and high tide, they roll around together then the ladies come right up to the waters edge to lay their eggs, up to 20,000 in each nest! When the eggs are exposed during low tide, thousands of shore birds stop off on their migration from South America to Arctic to fuel up on those delicious little eggs before they continue north.