Cape May Greenways

Cape May Greenways

The Cape May area has miles of scenic trails and byways that run through forests, farmland, state and county parks, wildlife-management areas, historic towns, and the dunes of preserved beaches.

Birds and other wildlife abound. In fact, the Cape May peninsula is one of the top birding spots in North America. Cape May Point State Park, for example, is a major migratory route, especially in the spring, when many sea and shore birds come through. At the end of the summer, dragonflies and monarch butterflies can be seen as they make their way to cross the Delaware Bay.

Three blazed trails will lead you through a variety of habitats in the Cape May Point State Park. On the wheelchair-accessible Red Trail, viewing platforms overlook ponds where wading birds, ducks, swans and, sometimes, osprey come to feed and breed. The Yellow Trail is 1.5 miles long with views of wetland marsh and coastal dunes. The Blue Trail is the longest of said trails.

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In Cape May Point State Park, you’ll also find a 157-foot lighthouse, built in 1859, with 199 steps you can climb to take in a view of the cape. As a reminder of its days as a military base, the park also has a bunker. It now stands as a monument to the strategic defensive role the area played during World War II. At low tide, you can still see the gun turrets.

At the more-than-200-acre Cape May County Park, you’ll discover a zoo that’s home to more than 500 animals representing 250 species, and the admission is free! At Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, free family nature walks are available on Saturdays throughout the summer.6-2-15 Osprey shutterstock_262753520

Birding is always excellent at Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, especially from spring through early fall. In spring, when they are heading north, birds will rest and feed there after crossing the Delaware Bay. In summer, a number of species come to breed. Because of this, pets are not permitted on the beach from April until September. This is also a good place to see dragonflies and butterflies, including monarchs. Higbee has more than two miles of nature trails with viewing platforms.

For fishing enthusiasts, Cape May Point State Park waters are home to weakfish, bluefish, flounder, tautog, and striped bass.

For more information and an interactive map of Cape May County greenways, visit www.gardenstategreenways.org.

 

 

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Get to know the Gateways of Lewes

Gateways of Lewes

The “Gateways of Lewes” are six roads forming a continuous network of greenway leading into the town and out to the ocean. The Gateways also provide an active and enjoyable way to explore the more than three centuries of Lewes history. You’ll definitely want to make a day of traveling these trails by boat, car or bike, leaving plenty of time to take in the natural beauty and interesting stopping points.

The “Gateways from the Land”—Kings Highway, Savannah Road and New Road—run generally east to west, perpendicular to the coast, passing through numerous historically significant areas, including downtown Lewes. The “Gateways from the Sea”—Pilottown Road, Gills Neck Road and Cape Henlopen Drive—run approximately north to south, parallel to the coast. This route follows the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the beach.

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Canoeing at Trap Pond State Park near Lewes.

Among the interesting places you’ll find along the Gateways from the Land are the Lewes Presbyterian Church (est. 1692) and churchyard, the Zwaanendael Museum (built in 1932 to resemble the ancient City Hall in Hoorn, Holland) on Kings Highway, and Bethel Cemetery and the War of 1812 Memorial Park just north of the Canal Bridge on Savannah Road. Along the Gateways from the Sea are the Cannonball House (with a War of 1812 cannonball embedded in its foundation), historic Victorian homes of Delaware River and Delaware Bay pilots, the Lightship Overfalls (a floating lighthouse built in 1938), and Canalfront Park.

At the end of the Gateways from the Sea greenway is the 5,193-acre Cape Henlopen State Park. There, you can hike a three-mile paved loop trail, six miles of beach along the Atlantic Ocean, or the 1.6-mile crushed-gravel Walking Dunes Trail, which ends at the 80-foot-high Great Dune. They’re called “walking dunes” because they actually move slowly across the park.

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(Image source: Delaware State Parks)

In the park, you’ll discover a World War II observation tower that was part of Fort Miles and used to spot enemy battleships. It’s a shorter climb up one of the former military bunkers in the park, but the view is still impressive. Be sure to visit the Seaside Nature Center to check out the live Osprey Cam.

Visit www.delawaregreenways.org for more information.

Birding on the Delaware Bay

Did you know the Delaware Bay is one of the most significant shorebird migration sites in the world? In fact, the region prides itself on having the second-highest concentration of shorebirds in North America! On any journey, it’s not unusual to spot shore birds such as Osprey, Red Knots, Gannets, and Egrets. The ferry is a favorite among birders as a place to see many of these East Coast migrating birds.

Birds

Ospreys

blog ospreyWe have an osprey family builds their nest in the same exact spot every year at our Lewes Terminal. The family has left for the winter, but they should be back next year and we have live camera coverage when they are in Lewes. The best view to catch them is from the second deck of the ferry as you approach the Lewes dock. 

Bald Eagle

You can catch Bald Eagles all year near the Delaware Bay! Theyblog bald eagle are seafood lovers who catch their prey with their talons while swooping down near the water. Their wingspan can stretch to over 7 feet and can live to roughly 20 years old!

Fun Fact: Bald Eagles have been known to fly across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Europe! Talk about a long journey!

Red Knot

blog red knotThis medium-sized shorebird breeds in the far north of Canada, Europe, and Russia. The oldest recorded Red Knot was 15 years old. The Red Knot population along the Delaware Bay is slowly decreasing because of the limited food source our waters provide them. Their preferred food source is horseshoe crab eggs but it has become increasingly harder for these birds to find enough to sustain their hunger.

Piping Plover

These birds blend into the sand so they can be hard to spotblog piping plover.png along the shoreline. Plovers eat freshwater and marine invertebrates that wash up on shore. Generally, Piping Plovers arrive on breeding sites in early spring and begin nesting and egg-laying around May. Each mother will typically lay 3 to 4 eggs per season.

Fun Fact: Did you know that nesting piping plovers are federally protected? That means there’s no touching allowed!

Local Birding Spots

Delaware Bay: On the ferry!

Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park is a perfect spot for birders to experience a unique perspective, with 360-degree views from their lookout tower. This park is directly left of the Lewes Terminal and includes paths for biking and walking, with wetlands, beaches, and wooded areas. Cape Henlopen is also a direct path for birds to migrate to in the spring. It is not uncommon to see multiple nests along the walking trail.

New Jersey: The New Jersey Audubon Society is a great resource for all birders, offering nature lovers the opportunity to hone their skills with birding programs, maps and more. In Cape May, Higbee Beach remains a gorgeous location for birders to watch migrating birds. The fields, trails, and swamps are where you will find most bird watchers. This one and a half mile stretch of beach on the Delaware Bay is comprised of 6 different locations, with Hidden Valley being one of the most popular bird watching sites. 

Birding Tips

1.) Bring Binoculars on board with you! Keep a lookout on the second deck while you travel with us. Our captains will announce when they see wildlife while crossing.

2.) Do not disturb the nests and make sure to watch these beautiful birds from a distance.

3.) Feel free to take photos! Captains will announce when we are approaching the Lewes Terminal so you will have time to get your camera out to take a peek at the Osprey Nest (when the Osprey family is in town).

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry provides one of the best views for nature lovers to experience wildlife from a new vantage point. This is a great activity for families with children young and old! With unique views on either side of the Bay, you’ll have to join us on board to experience them all! For more information and fun facts regarding Delaware Bay wildlife check out our website!

5 Things To Love About Ferry Travel in May

There are plenty of fun reasons to ride the Ferry every time of the year, but with Mother’s Day, Memorial Day weekend, and the sun finally bringing some warmer weather, there are so many things to love about a May ferry cruise. Here’s five reasons why you should hop on the Ferry this May:

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1. Warm Weather

The cold of winter is finally gone, and the April showers are over. It’s finally time to go out and enjoy the sunshine and the bay breezes without a big bulky winter coat. There are so many great places on the Ferry to get some sun and enjoy the weather.

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2. Wildlife

Spring is a time when many birds, and a lot of the local marine life, are either migrating or nesting. What this means for us is that we get to see a colorful menagerie of birds, dolphins, whales, and much more from the Ferry!

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3. Biking

Now that the sun is finally shining, it’s time to take your bicycle out of the garage and onto the Ferry! There are fabulous bike trails located within just minutes of both Ferry Terminals, and the May weather is an excellent time to explore them. Also, bikes ride free on the Ferry with a foot passenger ticket!

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4. Fun & Food at the Ferry Terminals

May is a great time to enjoy many of the happenings and community events going on at our Ferry Terminals. Plus, with the opening of our On The Rocks Dockside Grill, you can sit down and have a delicious meal while you’re there.

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5. Day Tripping

As the weather begins to improve, and the calendar starts to make its way toward summer, the cities surrounding the Ferry begin to open their doors for shopping, sunbathing, food, and many other great local events. The Ferry is a fun way to explore the other side of the Delaware Bay, while also getting to take a fun, relaxing cruise.

Young Birders Share Sightings

ABA Campers Host Free Bird Talk Program

 Exciting news for Delaware Bay birders and the Cape May – Lewes Ferry! The American Birding Association (ABA) Summer Young Birders Camp will be offering a special program for all ferry passengers on the 6:00 PM departure from Cape May on Thursday, August 14.

The Birding Talk program will have two stations, one at the bow and one at the stern of the boat. Passengers will learn about the natural history of the bay, and identify and discuss birds and other wildlife they will see on their ferry passage. This program is FREE of CHARGE to all passengers with their ferry ticket.

The Delaware Bay has tremendous biodiversity, with a wide variety of habitats and animal species. The ferry route from Cape May to Lewes is on an important East Coast migratory bird route. The peninsular portion of Cape May County also acts as a “bird funnel”, making the ferry route and the areas close to our terminals great places to view and identify a wide variety of birds. The Lewes and Cape May areas are some of the best places to view birds in the entire US!

Get ready for lots more local bird talk as the American Birding Associatin (ABA) moves its national headquarter to  Delaware City in  the historic Central Hotel, which overlooks the Delaware River and Pea Patch Island. Pea Patch Island is the site of Fort Delaware, used during the Civil War as a prison camp for Confederate soldiers. You can explore Fort Delaware with the Delaware City – Salem Ferry www.decitysalemferry.com, also operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

The ABA camp is based this summer at Cape Henlopen State Park http://www.destateparks.com/park/cape-henlopen/ in Lewes, DE, and runs through August 17. To learn more about the ABA and their mission “to inspire people to protect and enjoy birds” please visit: www.aba.org.